The Armory building is in the process of being sold to the National Sailing Hall of Fame (“NSHOF”) which has been based in Annapolis for the last 13 years. Since 2008 the NSHOF has had the benefit of a 50 year lease for $1.00 per year on waterfront property owned by the State of Maryland with a condition that the organization would construct a clubhouse and museum on the property. The SHF has failed to keep its promises to the State and to date is unable to comply with the construction requirements. At its last review in February, 2017 the State Properties Commission in Maryland made it clear that if the NSHOF does not meet compliance at the time of the next review they could forfeit the lease.

Coincidently around the same time discussions commenced between the City of Newport and the NSHOF regarding the potential purchase or lease of the Armory property on Thames Street. Apparently no one in the City administration reviewed the history of this organization and the red flags that were flying. A simple on-line search on the Capitol Gazette would reveal the problems and the comments from public officials and reporters including, “There’s a sucker born every minute”, referring to the City of Newport. This is the group that Newport’s administration is fervently moving to sell the property to and returned to the tax rolls. This sale, or any sale of the property for that matter, is not in the best interest of the city.

In 2003 and 2010 prior administrations adopted the Newport Comprehensive Waterfront Plan which is filed with the Coastal Resources Management Council as mandated by law. That Plan states the Armory should be retained by the City in perpetuity, never to be sold. And in the foreword of the Plan it states, “It appears that the city has taken its priceless harbor and waterfront for granted and perhaps lost sight of the basic fact that Newport’s harbor and shoreline is the fundamental economic engine that drives our local economy

The potential sale of the condominium would result in an annual tax payment to the city of approximately $16,500.00. The tenant occupying the area pays in excess of three times that amount to the City each year as rent for the space. The sale will result in a net loss of revenue to the City of $37,500 annually. Armory Antiques has occupied the street level floor of the building since 1995 and the business provides an income to approximately 150 families, many of them senior citizens. We are a retail business which is open year round and with over one hundred thousand annual visitors, many who return year after year and we are a catalyst to the downtown retail area. The sale of the property would force our business to close permanently resulting in a large economic void on Thames Street.


This Letter To The Editor was submitted by Debra Vivace of Newport. The views and opinions expressed within are not necessarily reflecting those of What’sUpNewp’s ownership, contributors, or advertisers. Have a view or opinion that you’d like to share? Email it to Ryan@whatsupnewp.com.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.