NYT: Brown U. may move into former Providence power plant

January 8th, 2013 at 5:25 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The former South Street power station in Providence – known as the Dynamo House – has become a sad symbol of Rhode Island’s economic malaise.

There were high hopes in 2008 that Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse would turn the facility into a Starwood hotel with a museum, making it a symbol of the city. Instead, Streuver Bros. ran into financial problems as the Great Recession took hold and was forced to abandon the $150 million project.

Dynamo House now stands on the waterfront, empty and exposed to the elements. It’s on the Providence Preservation Society’s 10 Most Endangered Properties list, and it’s the local building that Greater City: Providence’s Jef Nickerson fields the most questions about.

But the 101-year-old facility’s prospects may be improving, Elizabeth Abbott reports for The New York Times:

[A] new investment group named Dynamo House Funding L.L.C., which is affiliated with the Baltimore-based Harbor East Development Group, has taken over Struever Brothers’ position in the property by acquiring the developer’s mortgage with Citibank. It plans to secure the building and make it fit for a different type of development [....]

According to James S. Bennett, director of economic development for Providence, “serious” possible tenants have looked at the building in recent months, though he declined to say who they were. Sources knowledgeable about the site said that Brown University might be interested since Dynamo House is in the city’s Jewelry District, where Brown has expanded in recent years.

Mr. Bennett said the city had made finding a new use for the building a priority, and would not consider the alternative: “It’s not going to be torn down,” he said.

Abbott is a former Providence Journal reporter, and her whole story is worth a read. The project could get a further boost if legislative leaders follow through on their pledge to bring back the historic tax credit program; Struever put part of the blame for the Dynamo project’s collapse on the credit’s demise.

For more on the rise and fall of the Dynamo House project, check out this UrbanPlanet thread.

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