In 2004, the WLT Board of Directors voted to expand the mission of the Westerly Land Trust. The additional purpose is to focus resources on the redevelopment and enhancement of commercial properties in the Downtown, particularly those in areas of historic significance to the Town. The concept behind this effort is that it reflects the flip-side of the land conservation coin. The developmental stress on open space in outlying areas, with scenic, recreational and environmental significance, will be diminished if the urban core of Westerly is made a more attractive, convenient, fun, and densely populated place in which people want to live, work, shop and play. The Westerly Land Trust’s Urban Program is designed to achieve this result.
Current holdings include:
61/85 Main Street: The former Shell gas station (61 Main St.) was purchased December 8, 2005. It is hoped that the property will be combined with adjacent properties in a mixed-use re-development. The former Garcia auto dealership (85 Main St.) was purchased June 29, 2006. These properties, along with adjacent parcel owned by Watch Hill Properties, currently house theWashingtonTrustCommunitySkatingCenter. The capital investment for the rink was made by the Royce Family Fund, and the facility is managed by the Ocean Community YMCA. The Washington Trust Company provided funds to support the skating center’s operation.
5 Canal Street: The former United Theater was purchased February 3, 2006. This building and adjoining space is undergoing extensive renovation designed to transform it into a multi-use arts complex. As currently envisioned, the restored complex will include a 336-seat main theater with a fully rigged proscenium stage; a 50-seat, “storefront” theater; and a third, reconfigurable auditorium on the second floor. Offices, rehearsal space, studios, dressing rooms, and a ground floor café will also be included. With the financial assistance of the Royce Family Fund, we have hired a full-time consultant to assist us in completion of the United Theater restoration, including fundraising.
7 Canal Street: The former Montgomery Ward building was purchased January, 2009. A portion of the building is currently leased to PEG (Public, Education & Government) RI-TV and to the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly. Another part of the building will be integrated into the neighboring United Theater arts complex.
145 Main Street: This property was acquired from Richard and Linda Brown on August 31, 2005. The former Ayers Auto location currently serves as space for summer storage of the skating rink. It is not considered likely that the building could be rehabilitated for other purposes.
177 Main Street: The parking lot located between Soucy Tire and Amanda’s Pantry, adjacent to the PawcatuckRiver, was purchased March 29, 2005. The southern portion of this parcel is the site of our new Community Garden, funded by KeepSpace Westerly.
35 Railroad Avenue: The Westerly Land Trust acquired this property in 2004 in order to preserve the historically rich Knickerbocker Café as a cultural resource for musical performances and other community events