KINGSTON – The University of Rhode Island recently terminated a lease agreement with the Hellenic Society Paideia to construct a Hellenic cultural center and outdoor amphitheater on the university’s Kingston campus.
On June 11, Robert A. Weygand, URI’s vice president of administration and finance, sent a letter to Ilias Tomazos, president of Paideia, advising him of the termination of the ground lease.
“We know that you have spent many hours and significant effort to attempt to meet the requirements we outlined in our meeting on Dec. 17, 2012 and formalized in our letter of Jan. 18, 2013.”
In December and formalized in the January letter, URI granted Paideia a one-time extension to submit a proposal detailing the organization’s plans to complete a proposed cultural center and outdoor amphitheater at the university.
The university extended the deadline for the project proposal to April 30.
After waiting seven years for Paideia to obtain proper building permits, the university sent a letter to the group in November terminating the 2005 agreement to build a multi-million dollar building, complete with outdoor amphitheater and classic Greek architecture, next to the school’s Fine Arts Center.
Tomazos and Paideia pleaded for more time to obtain the proper funding to construct the center.
Tomazos sent a letter to Weygand dated April 30 and addressed issues raised by the university in January and requested an emergency meeting prior to May 10.
According to the April 30 letter, the plans for the entire Hellenic Studies center have been completed and were submitted to URI, the state fire marshal and the Rhode Island Building Code Commission on April 12, and the group applied for the appropriate permits.
Tomazos indicated that the estimated cost for the remainder of the project is $1.7 million. He wrote that the foundation for the building and the theater has been completed under the original foundation permit and all work completed to date was paid for in full.
Tomazos contends as of April 30, Paideia has approximately $2 million worth of completed work and professional services “on the ground.”
Still, months later, in the June 11 letter, Weygand said Paideia did not meet the requirements set out by the university in January in order for the university to consider extending the ground lease.
The requirements included the submission of a financial plan that “encompasses full and complete funding for the entire project.”
According to Weygand’s January letter, the project was estimated to cost between $4 million and $6 million. A minimum of $2 million must be deposited by April 30 and the letter stated, “Fundraising pledges for this purpose will not be an acceptable financial mechanism but a traditional construction loan…will be acceptable.”
For the rest of this story, pick up the July 10 issue of the Narragansett Times.