Raimondo Administration Refuses to Answer Questions About Wexford Deal and Brown’s Rent

Thursday, December 15, 2016

 

View Larger +

Wexford project

The new $32 million subsidy for Wexford Life Sciences has raised significant questions. And just one of the concerns being raised is, “Are Rhode Island taxpayers financing a new building for Brown University?”

A simple question by GoLocal posed on Monday, “What is Brown paying per square foot in rent at Wexford?” has sparked a case of not-my-job, non-responsive emails, and "call those guys" from a range of state and contract public relation staffers.

Governor Gina Raimondo’s office kicked the inquiry to Commerce RI to answer the question; Commerce said it was the 195 Commission's domain; the 195 Commission would not answer the question, and Wexford had said they would not divulge the information.

Wexford President Jim Berens had told GoLocal that while he knows the rents that Wexford will be getting from Brown and CIC, that he was not going to share them.

“They’re not public information,” said Berens. He and his company are receiving tens of millions of dollars to subsidize his project. 

View Larger +

Brown University

Public Money But Not Public Information

The new Wexford project was trumpeted by a four-page press release from the state and three-pages of attachments distributed on Monday, but failed to provide any specific fiscal information on the deal between Rhode Island taxpayers, Wexford, and the two tenants.

On Tuesday, Commerce RI sent out a mass email promoting that the project would create "1,000 jobs over the next 20 years" — or 50 jobs a year.

With Rhode Island investing $32 million for a potential of 50 new jobs per year — the cost of job creation is costly.

In addition, a separate press release from Brown University stated, “Should the project proceed as planned, Brown would lease 50,000 square feet of space for a period of 15 years for its School of Professional Studies.” 

Are Rhode Island Taxpayers Subsidizing Brown University? Statements from Brown and Commerce Nearly Identical

On Wednesday, both Commerce and Brown continued to refuse to disclose the rent being paid and each issued separate and yet remarkably similar comments to GoLocal.

“Brown’s total investment in this project including lease payments, capital improvements, furniture, fixtures and equipment will be in excess of $35M. Our understanding is that this lease is in the market rate range for a transaction involving this lease term and tenant credit rating,” said Matt Sheaff of Commerce RI. 

View Larger +

"Brown’s total investment in this project — between lease payments, capital improvements, furniture, fixtures and equipment — will exceed $35M. This represents a market rate transaction consistent with what other tenants would pay over a 15-year term assuming a similar credit rating to Brown,” said Brown University’s Brian E. Clark, Director of News and Editorial Development.

According to CBRE, the leading commercial real estate firm in Rhode Island, the vacancy rate in the downtown business district ranges from 25% to more than 40%. In addition, the "average asking rent rate" is in the low to mid $20 per square foot range.

SLIDES: Raimondo Staff Salaries

 

Related Slideshow: 2016 Raimondo’s Staff Salaries

View Larger +
Prev Next

Curren, Meredith

Director of Appointments

$5,000

View Larger +
Prev Next

Rolfe, Catherine

Communications Associate

$36,471

View Larger +
Prev Next

Pellegrino, Angelika

Communications Associate

$36,471

View Larger +
Prev Next

Hytinen, Neil

Legislative Aide

$40,895

View Larger +
Prev Next

Abell, Octavia

Special Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff

$44,271

View Larger +
Prev Next

Gutierrez, Julia

Protocol Manager

$44,271

View Larger +
Prev Next

Casttriotta, Rebecca

Executive Administrative Asssitant

$47,228

View Larger +
Prev Next

Gering, Catherine

Appointment Special Assitant

$48,715

View Larger +
Prev Next

Natareno, Jason

Special Assistant to the Governor

$48,973

View Larger +
Prev Next

Allard, David

Outreach Manager

$52,272

View Larger +
Prev Next

Manning, Helen

Special Assistant to the Governor

$53,003

View Larger +
Prev Next

Harris, Kelly

Director of Scheduling

$56,694

View Larger +
Prev Next

Inman, Bradford

Director of Constituent Services

$56,694

View Larger +
Prev Next

Poddar, Keshav

Policy Analyst

$56,982

View Larger +
Prev Next

Abelow, Hannah

Policy Analyst

$56,982

View Larger +
Prev Next

Greene, Judith

Legal Administrative Assistant

$59,036

View Larger +
Prev Next

Fondreur, Jennifer

Office Manager

$63,793

View Larger +
Prev Next

Vota, Americo

Community Affairs & Outreach Advisor

$61,751

View Larger +
Prev Next

Desiderato, Ronald

Special Assistant to the Governor

$64,940

View Larger +
Prev Next

Wison, Dana

Executive Assistant to the Governor

$67,508

View Larger +
Prev Next

Nevins, Arthur

Education Policy Advisor

$69,144

View Larger +
Prev Next

Amol Gabriel

Director of Public Engagement

$82,572

View Larger +
Prev Next

Aberger, Marie

Press Secretary

$88,798

View Larger +
Prev Next

Hudson, Heather

Policy Advisor

$93,575

View Larger +
Prev Next

Iannazzi, Andrea

Special Counsel

$98,340

View Larger +
Prev Next

Raia, Mchael

Director of Communications

$122,186

View Larger +
Prev Next

Cheng, Eileen

Deputy Counsel

$122,186

View Larger +
Prev Next

Moses, Amy

Deputy Counsel

$126,951

View Larger +
Prev Next

Bucci, Matthew

Director of Governor's Office

$146,026

View Larger +
Prev Next

Vura-Weis, Lisa

Deputy Chief of Staff

$146,026

View Larger +
Prev Next

Gallagher, Kevin

Deputy Chief of Staff

$146,026

View Larger +
Prev Next

Richards, Claire

Executive Counsel

$155,385

View Larger +
Prev Next

Beane, Eric

Deputy Chief of Staff

$155,564

View Larger +
Prev Next

Smiley, Brett

Chief of Staff

$170,460

View Larger +
Prev Next

Cruise, R.David

Legislative Director

$178,899

 
 

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

 
 

Sign Up for the Daily Eblast

I want to follow on Twitter

I want to Like on Facebook

Delivered Free Every
Day to Your Inbox