What were the specific goals of this creative economy project? Describe the community development challenge or opportunity that your project was designed to address:
Goals for this project included:
1. Create a WaterFire Providence's first permanent, visible "home" in the community in order to help sustain the organization's long term cultural and economic impacts for Providence and RI.
2. Develop a social enterprise platform for the organization that will allow it to create new, diversified revenue streams
3. Preserve an important historic structure that had been vacant and rapidly deteriorating and becoming blight on the neighborhood.
4. Bring art and vibrancy to an underserved neighborhood much the same way the WaterFire event has helped transform downtown Providence for the past 23 years.
If the goals change over time, please describe how:
We initially purchased the building and planned for it to be WaterFire's headquarters and production facility; however, over time we identified a need for and interest in also developing the space into a multi-use arts venue that can host events, exhibitions and performances.
Who was involved in this project and what did they do? (be sure to include the partners from outside of the creative sector and how local voices were included):
Partners/Stakeholders/Project Catalysts include:
1. ArtPlace America - WaterFire Providence received a large creative placemaking grant in 2012. The organization had requested funding to help purchase a building but ArtPlace declined saying that our community should support this investment. This was a major catalyst and door opener for the project.
2. City Councilwoman Sabina Matos / Mayor Angel Tavares / City Council President Michael Solomon - Elected officials were early, active champions for the project.
3. City of Providence / Providence Economic Development Partnership awarded a grant of $250,000 to assist with the purchase of the property.
4. State of Rhode Island General Assembly $250,000 Community Service Grant to assist with the purchase of the property.
5. RI Department of Environmental Management with grants to hire an environmental engineer to undertake Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental assessments and site testing.
6. US Environmental Protection Agency - Three $200,000 brownfields remediation grants totalling $600,000, the most an organization can receive on a project in a funding cycle, to clean up the industrial property.
7. Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) provided a recoverable grant for project pre-development expenses.
8. Champlin Foundations with an early $265,000 grant for a new roof to stabilize the building and a second $250,000 grant to the capital campaign for building support.
9. RI voters through the Creative and Cultural Economy Bond - In November 2014, RI voters approved Question 5 - The Creative and Cultural Economy Bond for $30,000,000 of which $3,162,600 was designated to the WaterFire Arts Center. WaterFire Providence was 1 of 9 leading performing arts nonprofits that developed the concept, presented it to then Governor Chafee, shepherded it through the RI General Assembly to be place on the ballot and ran a grassroots voter campaign to get the bond approved.
10. US Department of the Interior and Bank of America (investor) - Federal Historic Tax Credits
11. US Treasury / LISC (allocating agency)/ Bank of America (investor) - Federal New Market Tax Credits
12. State of Rhode Island Office of Historic Preservation- State Historic Tax Credits
13. Nonprofit Finance Fund provided a bridge loan on our capital campaign for the project.
14. Russ Morin Catering is the WaterFire Arts Center event manager/catering partner who provided a loan guarantee to the Nonprofit Finance Fund.
15. Barbara Sokoloff Associates is a mission based funding consultant who helped us put together the complicated funding package for the project.
16. Donors and foundations supported the project from the very beginning and continue to support the project throughout its life.
How does this project relate to a larger community development strategy?
The WaterFire Art Center project meets the objectives of the City of Providence’s Comprehensive Plan. Specifically, the neighborhood plan for the Valley neighborhood identifies the former American Locomotive site – where the property is located – as a mixed use development representing the transition from industrial to mixed use. Objectives SE-4 and BE-3 of the Comprehensive Plan call for adaptive reuse of industrial buildings and high quality mixed use developments. Objective BJ-1 aims to retain and expand businesses. Objectives AC-4, AC-6 and PS-1 of the Comprehensive Plan express the City’s desire to establish Providence as a tourist destination, enliven the public realm with art installations and support public art in public spaces. WaterFire’s development of this property will complement the significant investments made at the adjacent ALCO campus as well as further along Valley Street and elsewhere in the neighborhood.
What projects or places, if any, inspired your approach to this creative economy project?
While WaterFire Providence believes that its project will be unique in the region and possibly in the country, first and foremost it will be WaterFire Providence's "home." There are several projects that have influenced our thinking about what the WaterFire Arts Center can also be including MASSMoCa and Basilica Hudson.