It has been almost one year since Newport Harbor Corp. sold the Newport Yachting Center and its property to the Peregrine Group, and Newport Waterfront Events still is without a permanent home and living in the unknown.
Michele Maker Palmieri, who ran Newport Waterfront Events for many years for Newport Harbor Corp, took over the company and started Waterfront Productions, LLC.
Waterfront Productions is now the parent company for Newport Waterfront Events and RI Waterfront Events.
Palmieri and her small team worked to keep all of the concerts and festivals in Newport with their attempt to move to Fort Adams State Park. From October 2014 through February 2015, Palmieri worked with Newport City Council, Fort Adams Trust and RI DEM to move the events there.
After months of workshops and city council meetings Newport City Council did finally approve a proposal in February that allowed Newport Waterfront Events to host up to 10 concerts at Fort Adams in May and June.
The process of getting approval from Rhode Island and Department Of Environmental Management turned out to be a longer process than expected for Newport Waterfront Events, once approval is obtained from the state and RIDEM, Newport Waterfront Events then has to go back to Newport City Council for a special event permit for each date they would need.
Newport Waterfront Events missed out on booking many musicians at Fort Adams State Park due to the amount of time the process took to get approval from the City Council, Fort Adams Trust and RI DEM.
The end result: Newport Waterfront Events hosted one event at Fort Adams State Park (Chowder Cook-Off), managed two concerts during the Volvo Ocean Race Newport Stopover and brought four events (Reggae Festival, Latin Festival, Oktoberfest, and J. Geils Band) to India Point Park in Providence.
According to a Providence Journal story on Thursday, September 3rd, “Waterfront Events scouting new permanent venue in Providence “, Waterfront Events is now considering a permanent location in Providence, including Station Park in the Capital Center District, and the I-195 land now under discussion as the potential new home for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The What’sUpNewp Crew caught up with Palmieri on Thursday;
Understand the difficulty of setting up and breaking down for each event is not ideal. Are you also looking for a permanent venue anywhere else in Rhode Island? Newport?
Michele Maker Palmieri:
Newport was original home of Newport Waterfront Events and we had hoped all the annual events that were hosted at the Newport Yachting Center for decades could move to another Newport venue but we were faced with many obstacles and challenges during that process this year. As a result we were forced to look outside of Newport to sustain our business this year and Providence was very open to having these events in the City. We were fortunate to be able to move Reggae Festival, a few concerts, and Oktoberfest to the Providence waterfront, and introduce a new cultural festival as well- Festival Latino de Providence happening this Sunday.
If you find a permanent venue outside of Newport, do you still plan on hosting or trying to host events in Newport and/or at Fort Adams State Park?
Sure, we are open to producing other events in Newport if the operational/financial model and timing make sense.
Is or has anyone from Newport City Council or RI DEM (for Fort Adams State Park) reaching out to you (like they are in Providence) to try to keep events somewhere in Newport?
We have not heard from anyone on the City level at this point (Editor’s Note – see response from City Council member regarding this statement below). We have had discussions with the Fort Adams Trust since the announcement of the Newport Yachting Center sale, and we were fortunate to have worked with them, Sail Newport and the RIDEM to produce the Volvo Ocean Race concerts in May, and of course Chowder Cook-Off in June. We have had some follow up conversations with the Fort Adams Trust this summer but we have not discussed plans for 2016 other than holding a date for the Chowder Cook-Off in June.
Is Newport in danger of losing events hosted by Newport Waterfront Events/RI Waterfront Events forever if things like the paperwork process or support from neighbors/city council doesn’t change?
Unfortunately, yes that is possible. NWE/RIWE is a seasoned, professional event production company with a portfolio of reputable events that have decades of success,and significant economic impact to the surrounding areas. We are looking for an opportunity to set up a new venue, call it home, and offer a quality outdoor entertainment series -but it has to make sense operationally and financially wherever we go.
The What’sUpNewp Crew reached out to every Newport City Council member for comment on the future of Newport Waterfront Events in Newport and these comments, one response has been received.
Councilor-At-Large John Florez responded on late Thursday night that he had spoke with Michele from Newport Waterfront Events on July 27th and also shared the following;
“I have been in communication with Michelle more recently than that (February). The City Council did approve the concert series. I’m proud to have voted in favor of them staying right here in Newport. However, the State had the final say, it was the DEM who did not grant final approval. At that point there was nothing that could have been done on a local level.”