After several months of speculation, confusion, and questions, the Office of the City Manager released a statement on Friday, February 1st at 5 pm regarding the potential sale of the Armory on Thames Street in Newport to the National Sailing Hall Of Fame.
Earlier this week an Executive Session meeting scheduled for Newport City Council to discuss the potential sale of the publically owned property was canceled.
The Newport City Administration has been discussing for several weeks the National Sailing Hall of Fame’s (NSHOF) acquisition of the Armory property on Thames Street. The acquisition price has been derived in consultation with two different appraisers who have done independent fair market analyses on the property to determine its fair market value price. The value takes into consideration the extensive repairs that need to be done to the exterior of the premises. The market value price also takes into consideration the fact that the building is encumbered with historical covenants with the State Historic Preservation Office on any exterior work to the building. Those covenants stay with the building regardless of who owns the property.
If the sale discussions with the NSHOF were to come to fruition, they would include, among other details, the City retaining the Maritime Center located in the basement of the Armory facility as well as the small beach area that borders the Center immediately on the west. The Maritime Center is an important City public asset and will remain so under any circumstance. The City would continue to operate that facility as a public maritime facility. The Armory building, with the exception of the Maritime Center, would be placed on the real estate tax rolls. The NSHOF is not an organization that would be exempt from local real estate taxes.
The sale discussions with the NSHOF do NOT include Ann Street or the Ann Street Pier. If, at some time, the City is able to construct the Ann Street Pier extension, it will result in a magnificent public attribute that will enhance the public boating experience along with the Maritime Center.
The NSHOF has presented a plan to operate a museum on the first floor of the Armory which is the street level on Thames Street and which is currently occupied by an Antique Center. The NSHOF would also occupy the small office suite on the second floor of the building which is currently unoccupied and in a state of disrepair.
If the City Administration and NSHOF are able to come to terms, the terms will be presented to the City Council in a public forum and the Council will discuss the issues and determine how to proceed.
Office of the City Manager
February 1, 2018
As Newport This Week first reported on January 11th, an agreement to relocate the National Sailing Hall of Fame to the Newport Armory on Thames Street could be finalized by February. Talks of the National Sailing Hall Of Fame moving from Annapolis, MD to Newport have been in talks since October of last year. Newport This Week also reported that the possible sale price for the property for the National Sailing Hall of Fame has not been revealed by City Officials but they were told by the Gary Jobson, President of the National Saling Hall Of Fame, that the sale price was around $2 million.
[Read Newport This Week‘s full story here – City Closing in on Sailing Hall of Fame]
Before the talks of the National Sailing Hall of Fame moving from Annapolis to Newport, there were no reports or rumors that the City was looking to sell the Armory. Leases for the current tenants of the property reportedly ended at the end of 2017 and all are currently on month-to-month lease agreements.
According to their website, The National Sailing Center & Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit educational institution dedicated to preserving the history of the sport and its impact on American culture; honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing; the teaching of math, science and American history; inspiring and encouraging sailing development; and providing an international landmark for sailing enthusiasts. The NSHOF is partnered with US SAILING and the U.S. Naval Academy, and is associated with the Herreshoff Marine Museum, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and yacht clubs throughout the country in its efforts to recognize role models of outstanding achievement.