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Efforts to save Armory continue

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Neighbors won't give up on armory

The West Broadway Neighborhood Association has been trying for years to find a way the city or state could make use of the Cranston Street Armory.

BY KAREN A. DAVIS Journal Staff Writer | January 10, 2005

Despite the failed passage of statewide bond issue that would have allowed for renovation of the Cranston Street Armory, residents in the West Broadway neighborhood are continuing their push to find new uses for the historic structure.

In November, voters rejected a measure that would have allowed for $15.3 million to be used to renovate the armory and pay for other preservation projects.

Officials and advocates lobbying for the proposal, and for another that would have renovated state property at the Pastore complex in Cranston, argued that the state could save taxpayer money by using its vacant or underused buildings and getting out of many of its leases.

The state's leases of more than 58 properties are costing the millions of dollars.

Beverly Najarian, director of the state Department of Administration, has estimated that the state could have saved more than $100,000 a year by voting for the Cranston Armory proposal and $1.5 million a year by using the Pastore complex.

Najarian has said the money saved would more than cover the cost of paying back the bonds.

"We're real, real sad that the bond didn't pass," said Kari N. Lang, director of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, which has been lobbying for years for the preservation and reuse of the castle-like structure off Cranston Street.

"We just don't think the wording was clear enough that [we] were losing a cost-saving opportunity that was pretty huge," Lang said.

Lang said she wants a larger coalition working to save the armory, to meet more regularly and try to obtain financing.

The West Broadway Neighborhood Association is holding its annual meeting at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the armory.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 97-year-old structure was home to the Rhode Island National Guard.

After learning of the guard's plans to vacate the building in 1996, the neighborhood association began lobbying state and city officials to preserve it and find ways to use it. Residents consider it a neighborhood asset and a landmark.

A plan to have Hollywood filmmaker Michael Corrente convert the massive structure into a soundstage for film, video and television failed several years ago because of a lack of money.

Other ideas to locate the state archives and other offices there have not come to fruition.

From The Providence Journal

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Nice article! It would be a shame to have a building like that waste away or torn down. I see that the state and hollywood tried to get something started with it, why not retail (or would that be a traffic nightmare for the neighborhood?). I would imagine that would make one heck of a shopping experience.

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There's really not enough support for retail in that neighbourhood right now, it is a rather economically depressed area. Retail in the city as a whole is still trying to make a comeback. I don't think the building is in any danger of being torn down at this point. I don't know why there are no proposals for housing there, the area is sort of a new frontier of housing with many homes in the area being bought up cheap and renovated.

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