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R.I. state budget won’t include funding to redevelop Cranston Street Armory

Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi made the final decision to not include “any money” for the armory in the House Finance budget package, according to sources close to him

Governor McKee's proposed budget included funding for the planned redevelopment of the Cranston Street Armory, which became an around-the-clock temporary warming station for Rhode Island homeless population this winter.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — The proposed redevelopment of the Cranston Street Armory won’t be getting any funding from the state’s budget, Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi told the Globe.

“There’s no real plan embedded yet by this administration,” said Shekarchi.

For decades, the urban castle that is the Cranston Street Armory has largely sat vacant, held by the state, and plans to redevelop the historic site were merely long-sought-after dreams of nearby residents and local businesses.

After years of back-and-forth with historic preservation committees, community members, and an outside development firm, the state released the final report detailing the plans for redevelopment from Philadelphia-based firm Scout Ltd. — and its $56.8 million price tag — earlier this year. It included an indoor soccer complex, state offices, and a small business incubator.

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Scout’s employees claimed that the redevelopment of the 165,000-square-foot facility at 340 Cranston St. would need $36.6 million from the state’s capital budget, spread out over three years, up to $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds allocated to the state, and up to $13 million in state and federal tax credit financing.

“A significant amount of these resources will expire by fiscal year 2024 and action must be taken now to align the redevelopment of the Armory while capital is available to this project,” the Scout report, which was released in April, said.

But Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi made the final decision to not include “any money” for the armory in the House Finance Committee budget package, according to sources close to him.

The proposal also called for up to $4 million from the city of Providence as an in-kind and infrastructure contribution, and $750,000 from a federal historic preservation program.

Earlier this year, Mayor Brett P. Smiley released the city’s 2023 legislative priorities, which included some public funding for the proposed redevelopment, which he called necessary for the “blighted” building.

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“I will certainly look upon the plan that Scout is working on. I happen to think it has a lot of merit,” said Shekarchi. “But I have not been to the facility. I have spoken to some of the Scout people. And I think the idea has merit. It certainly deserves more review.”

Governor Dan McKee’s administration transformed the armory into an around-the-clock “warming center” for the homeless in December. Homeless individuals who sought services at the armory vacated the property in mid-May.



Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.