Snakes and Snake-Killers in the Providence Fruit Building Thing

While we try to understand how a city can issue a Demolition Permit for an historic building, let’s take a look at the June 20, 2006, minutes of the State Properties Committee meeting at which the Purchase & Sale Agreement and the deed were approved, during which Chairman Jerome Williams repeatedly expressed concern that the building not be razed:

Chairman Williams understood the historical restrictions, however; he is concerned that if the State Properties Committee approves the sale of the property at four million five hundred thousand and 00/100 ($4,500,000.00) Dollars and then Carpionato Properties, Inc. is allowed to demolish the building, the State of Rhode Island will clearly not have received fair and equitable compensation for the subject property.

To these queries, Mr. Kelly Coates, Senior Vice of Carpionato Properties, made the following statements:

… that the exact legal language states that anything done by Carpionato Properties, Inc. is subject to the approval of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. Therefore, any plans for the property will require its consent and language to that effect is contained in the Purchase and Sale Agreement.
* * * *
… that a development plan has been reviewed by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and they have executed the same. Mr. Coates indicated that a substantial amount of time has passed since the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission’s execution of the agreement, however, that signed development plan is also an exhibit to the Purchase and Sale Agreement. Mr. Coates reiterated that any work done by Carpionato Properties, Inc. relative to this property is entirely at the discretion and mercy of the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission.

And Attorney Thomas V. Moses, representing Carpionato Properties…

…once again, reiterated the significant restrictions placed upon Carpionato Properties, Inc. relative to the development of the property.
* * * *
indicated that approval of Carpionato Properties, Inc.’s development plan is contingent upon its incorporating the existing structure.

While they were presumably not under oath at this meeting, are Mr. Coates and Attorney Moses permitted to overtly dissemble in this way?
Snakes will be snakes. The more edifying concern is whether members of the State Properties Committee, supposedly one of the snake-killing branches of our government, have verified for themselves that the requisite condition was a part of the Purchase & Sales Agreement by … um … reading the documents that they were asked to approve.
The name of Michael D. Mitchell, legal counsel to the state, is mentioned repeatedly in these and other minutes of meetings of the State Properties Committee at which the disposition of this property was discussed and eventually approved. Can we know, please, what role he played in this unfortunate little drama?
ADDENDUM
Commenter “Brassband” adds the Attorney General to Rhode Island officials m.i.a. in this matter:

I will reiterate — it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to assure that all of the actual conveyancing documents are proper. The statute requires him to approve all deeds “as to form,” and there can be no proper transfer of the state’s interest in real estate if that is not accomplished.
The question is; who from the AG’s office approved the deed? If the answer is “no one,” then why wasn’t that issue raised before Judge Silverstein last week?

RI General Law 37-7-3 states:

The deed shall be executed on behalf of the state by the acquiring authority, approved as to substance by the director of administration, and approved as to form by the attorney general.

Minutes of the June 20, 2006 meeting confirm the presence of Committee members Mr. Robert Griffith representing the RI Department of Administration and Genevieve Allaire Johnson, Esquire, representing the Attorney General’s office. Additionally, in attendance were Marlene McCarthy Tuohy and Kevin Nelson from the RI Department of Administration.
Interestingly, the minutes state that Michael D. Mitchell “from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation” was in attendance at this meeting, though the RI Bar Association Directory presently lists him as Deputy Chief of Legal Services for the RI Department of Administration. Either Mr. Mitchell wore two hats at the time or he changed jobs in the interim.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
brassband
brassband
13 years ago

I will reiterate — it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to assure that all of the actual conveyancing documents are proper. The statute requires him to approve all deeds “as to form,” and there can be no proper transfer of the state’s interest in real estate if that is not accomplished.
The question is; who from the AG’s office approved the deed? If the answer is “no one,” then why wasn’t that issue raised before Judge Silverstein last week?

Will
13 years ago

Brassband is absolutely 100% correct. If there was legal language missing from that document that was supposed to have been in there to protect the building, it’s entirely on the AG or his representative to have done so.
While some blame could perhaps be placed on Carpionato Properties, for what was essentially a sin of omission, not commission, I just don’t see any legal recourse at this point. The state, through the AGs neglect, simply dropped the ball. Best I can tell, they got away with buying that building on a huge markdown fair and square. Like in a criminal case, it’s not the responsibility of the prosecutor to find evidence to exonerate the accused.
BTW I am very much into historic preservation through the PPS and other groups, but I have to agree with my friend Dave Brussat of the Projo that the building, even if it had been rehabilitated, just wasn’t a beautiful building to begin with. While I definitely think we have to go the extra mile to preserve our architectural heritage by doing everything legally permissible to save old buildings with architectural or other merit, this simply was not one of them. You have to choose your battles.

johnpaycheck
johnpaycheck
13 years ago

wait till the property gets sold for $14 million by carpinionto…that will be the last laugh. pick up a quick $10 million on the state.
the projp is awol on this one. cant figure out why.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Ms. Chartier,
I have information regarding Mr. Mitchell I am sure you would be interested in.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.