State looks to sell Board of Elections building in Providence

Politics

R.I. Board of Elections (file photo)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The state is looking to offload 50 Branch Ave. in Providence, as the building’s current occupant – the R.I. Board of Elections – continues with a controversial move to Cranston.

The State Properties Committee on Tuesday approved a preliminary proposal to put the deteriorating building up for sale. The building for years has been the headquarters for the Board of Elections, which last year voted in favor of moving to 2000 Plainfield Pike in Cranston.

The move, however, has come with controversy. Two companies – including one owned by former Providence Mayor Joseph Paolino – filed a lawsuit in R.I. Superior Court challenging a deal made between the state and the company that owns the Cranston properties.

Paolino claims the deal was made through an unfair bidding process. He confirmed Wednesday the lawsuit is ongoing.

Despite the legal challenge, however, the Board of Elections recently held its final meeting at 50 Branch Ave. and is continuing with its move to the Cranston property, which is expected to be completed Feb. 10.

R.I. Department of Administration spokesperson Brenna McCabe said Wednesday the State Properties Committee vote did not approve a sale to any specific buyer, and the state must first complete an appraisal of the building before advertising a public sale.

The Branch Avenue property was built in 1940 and has an assessed value of $988,400, according to the Providence Tax Assessor.

Eli Sherman (esherman@wpri.com) is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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