Cranston Street Armory

7/18/2023 Update:

Governor McKee announced on Monday, July 17 that the state would no longer move forward with development firm Scout, Ltd. to rehabilitate the long-vacant Cranston Street Armory, citing financial risks. PPS is deeply disappointed that this opportunity to work with a community-approved firm on a vitally important building has been squandered. The Armory has been mostly empty for over twenty years at the cost of the taxpayer for capital maintenance. This project would have revitalized the building with minimal physical changes and reduced financial investment from the state over time. PPS will continue to advocate for the adaptive reuse of this iconic building, and will share information on any future developments.

4/06/2023 Update:

There is no argument that the Cranston Street Armory, located in the West End, is one of the most architecturally, historically, and culturally significant structures located in Providence. Despite its popularity, this state-owned building has been empty for decades. Along with countless other stakeholders, PPS has been working for nearly a decade on a community-engaged process to reinvigorate interest in the building and find it a new and appropriate future.

Last year, the State signed a development agreement with PPS-and-community-approved developer Scout Ltd, of Philadelphia, that would see the state’s financial investment in the Armory decrease over time. Scout has plans to further involve the community in planning mixed-use development for the Armory, bringing us closer than ever to seeing an actively used Armory in our future.

For all this to happen, the Governor’s budget needs to add an amendment of $20 million no later than mid-May, and we need your help.

Please contact the Governor’s office at (401) 222-2080 or and ask that a Governor’s Budget Amendment of $20 million be added before mid-May to support the Cranston Street Armory redevelopment project. It is important that they hear from people from around the state, so please tell them what town you live in and then ask a friend in another town to call them.

2/24/2023 Update:

The Cranston Street Armory, an architecturally, historically, and culturally significant State-owned building in Providence’s West End neighborhood, has been mostly vacant for over 20 years. PPS and other stakeholders have worked with the Department of Admin and DCAMM for YEARS on a community-engaged process to find a new use that would benefit the surrounding area as well as the entire state. Last year, the State signed a development agreement with Scout Ltd, a Philadelphia based developer, that would see the state’s financial investment in the Armory decrease over time. The use plan would be beneficial to many, many people as well.

This year, the state designated the Armory as a warming center for the state’s growing unhoused population, especially needed in light of the recent cold weather. Everyone invested in the building’s future was happy to see it used for that purpose, including immediate neighbors and the WBNA. Now, however, Housing Secretary Pryor may be planning to delay the redevelopment in favor of on-going housing for the unhoused. As recent events have shown, the Armory is a decent emergency shelter, but is not suitable as a long-term solution for this issue.

At a meeting on February 23, “Secretary Pryor confirmed that there would be no permanent shelter at the Armory, and he and others present reflected the state’s enthusiasm for the Scout development of the Armory…,” according to a press release sent out by Council President Rachel Miller. Read more here

We urge Secretary Pryor and Governor McKee to find suitable shelter for our unhoused community members AND move forward on the development agreement with Scout.

December 2021 Update:

We need your help!

For over 6 years, we have worked alongside other advocates and State agencies on a community-driven plan to put the Armory to full-time use. While the State continues to meet capital maintenance needs, various administrations see it either a burden or an asset. Just a few months ago, the State selected Scout Ltd as the developer. In front of the State now is a simple predevelopment services agreement that will allow Scout to investigate all sources of investment capital.

A series of events unfolded that derailed the process. Chief among those was the departure of Governor Raimondo and her director of administration. A new Governor and director came aboard, and with them came different priorities, and a different perspective on the importance of this building to the neighborhood, City, and State.

We need your help to get this process back on track. Why do we support Scout and their proposed development plan?

1. We have spent almost a decade in the process to find an acceptable reuse for the armory.

2. Scout is a proven development firm They have the values and a project that mirrors our hopes for the Armory and surrounding Community.

3. Scout’s plans include minimal physical changes to the Armory.

The Department of Administration should execute the agreement and allow Scout to establish a budget and research available capital sources for this project.

We need your help. Please write or call the decision makers and urge them to sign the agreement.

Email Governor McKee or call him at (401) 465-6204.

Email Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio or call him at (401) 222-6655.

Email Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi or call him at (401) 222-2447.

October 2021 Update:

We are currently awaiting the State’s announcement for the chosen vendor to adaptively reuse the Cranston Street Armory. We understand that there have been delays due to changes in the administration. The Armory is presently being used for a temporary use.***

In 2019:

The State of Rhode Island held two public meetings that featured proposals for the renovation and reuse of the Cranston Street Armory. These proposals were received as part of the state’s Request for Proposals process this past March. PPS helped form and has served as a member of the Steering Committee for this process since its inception.

The development teams “[discussed] their visions for the property, including proposed uses, strategies for the integration of community-based businesses and public access, and project timeline.”

The Cranston Street Armory Reuse Plan is an ongoing process led by the State of Rhode Island and a Steering Committee made up of community members and other stakeholders, including PPS. The goal is to develop a roadmap for the State to work with private partners to return the historic armory to active use.

In 2019, the State of RI posted an RFP (request for proposals). This step brought to light potential non-profit and private sector partners with proposed uses for the building, which has been vacant for over 20 years. We agree with the State that a public-private partnership is the most practicable way to move forward with adaptive re-use of this massive and beloved structure — which was a previous Most Endangered Property.

More details and updates

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