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SPECULATION: Old Public Safety Complex

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Will his fifth try be a charm? Another LaSalle Square idea pitched

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE -- Once again there would be heads in beds at the old police-fire headquarters at LaSalle Square if a new plan to reuse the building becomes a reality.

But rather than dozing firefighters or prisoners asleep in the police cellblock, those heads would belong to guests in a hotel, or residents of apartments or condominiums.

Developer Vincent J. Mesolella Jr. yesterday presented his fifth proposal for the site to the Providence Redevelopment Agency: a $25-million to $30-million conversion of the building to residential use or possibly a combined boutique hotel/residential use.

Either concept would entail the demolition of a large part of the building that faces Greene Street, rehabilitation of the rest, and construction of a 10-story tower on the parking lot on the Broadway side of the building.

After peppering Mesolella with questions about his likely financing sources and other issues, the Redevelopment Agency board of directors unenthusiastically approved his concept.

Redevelopment Agency Chairman Henry E. Kates asked other directors if anyone objected to Mesolella's ideas, and when nobody responded, he told Mesolella, "You have tacit approval to move forward."

But Thomas E. Deller, the Redevelopment Agency executive director, quickly interjected that Mesolella should "sit tight for a couple of weeks" while the directors consider the legal aspects of Mesolella's working relationship with the agency.

"This has been [unresolved] so long, we need to do this right," Deller said. He added, "I think this is heading in the right direction."

The unspoken subtext is whether Mesolella still has an enforceable development agreement for the city-owned site. Mesolella insists that he does, and last year he alleged that the Redevelopment Agency had violated its agreement with him.

He indirectly threatened to sue the Redevelopment Agency if it does not convey the property to him.

This year the Redevelopment Agency hired the law firm Partridge Snow & Hahn to give advise whether the agency is still bound to do business with Mesolella or is now free to advertise for competing development proposals.

Mesolella's designs on the site date to the 1990s, when he and partners struck a complicated package deal with former Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. to build a public-safety complex nearby and an all-suite hotel on the site of the police-fire headquarters.

The Redevelopment Agency entered into a formal development agreement with Mesolella's partnership for both projects.

The public-safety complex was built, but then Mesolella persuaded Cianci to let him pursue a hotel project at the site of the Fogarty Building on Sabin Street and do something else with the police-fire headquarters. Cianci held sway over the Redevelopment Agency, which acquiesced to the switch.

As the hotel at the Fogarty Building site became a political cause c

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This thread about the last proposal at the Old Public Safety Complex is just over a year old. With the announcement that Proc. Group has purchased the rights to develop the property, I went today and took some pictures of it. I guess until Proc. Group makes an official announcement, we can speculate on what we'd like to see. We've heard that we may see two towers with an office component here ranging from 150-210 feet.

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe001.jpg

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe002.jpg

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe003.jpg

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe004.jpg

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe005.jpg

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe006.jpg

UP-2005-0826-PubSafe007.jpg

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So are we talking demolition here, or refurbishing?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Only time will tell.

I remember when it was being sold as a potential movie studio or something. That place, and the armory. I wonder what the NIMBY's would have said about that.

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So are we talking demolition here, or refurbishing?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The initial TPG thought was demolishing and building new. I hope the plans evolve from any 2 tower approach to a single tower of twice the height...you know, 250-330 feet. Again, with any significant skyline impact, the larger the Downcity becomes...and that is a good thing for increased activity.

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Only time will tell.

I remember when it was being sold as a potential movie studio or something. That place, and the armory. I wonder what the NIMBY's would have said about that.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Cianci wanted to sell it to a movie co so that they could blow it up, like they tried to do with the old Jamestown Bridge. But there were no bites.

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This rumor about the twin towers, is it credible? I'm thinking that Blue Cross may be interested because they have already met with the mayor concerning their desire to stay in the city if they can locate all their offices into one location. They previously made public comments concerning their interest to possibly move out of the city.

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I have pictures taken inside this building ( after everyone moved out ) that I can post once I return to providence.

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Nice to see a public garage mandated. Hopefully Dunk patrons can stop getting gouged (of course, if you're going to see American Idol, you should be gouged).

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Now we just need someone to update The Regency Plaza and downtown will be really turing up.

I'd love to see the city take back Fountain Street through there.

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I'd love to see the city take back Fountain Street through there.

Why! All it did was add another choice for drivers coming off the service road who were headed downcity.

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Did anyone else read in East Side Monthly that there is rumor that the Old Public Safety complex will be demolished in a movie? Not sure if this was April Fools or not, but it appeared in a section with other presumably factual items.

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Did anyone else read in East Side Monthly that there is rumor that the Old Public Safety complex will be demolished in a movie? Not sure if this was April Fools or not, but it appeared in a section with other presumably factual items.

If memory serves me correctly, didn't the city and Cianci try to sell the rights to blow up the building to Hollywood, with no takers?

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Cianci wanted to sell it to a movie co so that they could blow it up, like they tried to do with the old Jamestown Bridge. But there were no bites.

yes :)

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