PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The deal to give $2.7 million in tax breaks to a proposed downtown microloft-style hotel is getting a second chance, after a majority of Providence City Councilors petitioned to bring the tax treaty out of committee.
Members of the Council Finance Committee voted last week to “indefinitely continue” the tax stabilization agreement (TSA) for the Hotel Hive, rather than sending it to the full council with their approval or disapproval.
But eight councilors have now signed what is called a “discharge petition,” which allows them to force the bill from committee and onto the floor for a full council vote.
The vote is scheduled for Thursday’s City Council meeting. The councilors who signed the petition are Michael Correia, Nicholas Narducci, Mary Kay Harris, Helen Anthony, Seth Yurdin, John Igliozzi, Sabina Matos and Nirva LaFortune.
The move is rare — the city clerk says a discharge petition was last used in 2014 — and it resurrects the plans that developer Jim Abdo said he halted last week after the committee’s decision.
“I think this is good news,” Abdo said in an email to WPRI 12. “It says to me that certain members of the Providence City Council understand the importance of this project to both the city and the state.”
“It sends the right message to others who may want to invest in Providence’s future,” Abdo continued. “That Providence is open for business and that city leadership will partner with those who wish to bring their development dollars to the capital city in a responsible way.”
The Hotel Hive would be built in the historic, vacant buildings at 203 Westminster that used to house the Providence Journal and the Kresge department store.
Abdo, a Washington, D.C.-based developer, bought the buildings last year and is planning to turn them into a second location of the Hotel Hive, the first of which is in D.C. The downtown hotel would include a rooftop bar, main floor bar, pizza joint and other amenities, according to Abdo.
Abdo is asking for a 20-year property tax deal on the $39 million project, which would save him $2.7 million over the two decades. He would still pay $5.7 million in taxes during that time.
Opponents of the project argued the developer didn’t need more taxpayer financing to build the hotel, especially after receiving $6 million in tax increment financing from the state. Abdo also expects to receive federal historic tax credits.
But supporters, including the Providence Preservation Society, said it was important to revive the historic buildings, which have been sitting vacant downtown for years.
Abdo said last week he would not build the hotel without the city tax deal, even if it meant sitting on the property.
“We like the city, we like the asset,” Abdo said. “We’re patient, and if it means we have to wait ten years, we have to wait 20 years, so be it.”