PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The venue set to receive $15,000 to run Providence’s New Year’s Eve celebration has paid nine months worth of overdue rent to the city.
Skyline at Waterplace, a venue popular for weddings, political fundraisers and other events, was behind on rent after paying for “extensive” storm damage to the city-owned property, according to city spokesperson Patricia Socarras.
The overdue rent came up at a September meeting of the Board of Contract and Supply, where the board was considering whether the city should pay Skyline $15,000 to once again produce the One Providence New Year’s Eve celebration.
City Treasurer James Lombardi, a member of the board, flagged the issue.
“This vendor has been behind on rent,” Lombardi said at the meeting. “Can we make it contingent on the city being paid in full?” The board voted in favor of the condition.
The parks department sent the board a notice on Nov. 19 that Skyline subsequently paid its overdue rent through the end of November. On Monday, the board approved the contract for the New Year’s Eve celebration, a free event that includes a ball drop at midnight. (Skyline was the only bidder.)
“I think that any time a vendor is behind on an obligation, whether it be rent, taxes, permits, that we should be concerned and have them pay before they get a contract with the city,” Lombardi told WPRI 12.
In all, Skyline paid $70,282 in overdue rent, according to Socarras. The venue’s monthly rent is $7,809.
Reached by phone, Skyline CEO Michael Mota said the venue paid “a few hundred thousand dollars” to repair the water damage from a February storm, which he said the city was responsible for.
“We fronted the city the money,” Mota said. He said he is now working with the city to reduce the lease payments in light of the costs incurred by the venue.
“Skyline took on those repairs for the city, after which time the city worked with legal counsel to negotiate rent moving forward acknowledging that Skyline covered the cost of extensive repairs,” Socarras said.
The possibility of abating Skyline’s rent is expected to be discussed at the next meeting of the Providence Board of Parks Commissioners.
The parks commissioners have twice previously abated Skyline’s lease payments, according to meeting minutes from 2017 and 2018.
The board voted to forgive $23,118 in rent from Skyline last year, in exchange for the business spending $25,000 to assess water leakage issues.
In 2017, the board reduced lease payments by $35,000 to help pay for a new fire exit stairway.
Skyline renovated the long-vacant Waterplace Restaurant in 2016, opening for business in May 2017. The venue’s original opening date of October 2016 was delayed due to “time and cost overruns,” according to the meeting minutes.