$400K in Grants & Crowdfunding - Questions Emerge About Central Market & West Park Food Hall

Friday, March 08, 2019

 

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Eat Drink RI's David Dadekian and Director of Development Katie Kleyla

Questions are being raised about more than $400,000 in grants and crowdsourcing funds for two proposed food markets in Providence -- and no one is answering inquiries about the status of more than $120,000 that was raised via Kickstarter. 

Proposals to build a "Central Market" at the former location of Shooters in India Point in Providence -- and the "West Park Food Hall" in Smith Hill -- by Eat Drink RI have garnered more than $400,000 in grants and crowdfunding. The “Central Market” concept dates back to 2014 and “West Park Food Hall” to 2017, and both locations remain vacant with uncertain futures.

Now, a split between Eat Drink RI -- and its former director of development -- has raised concerns about the prospects of the West Park Food Hall, after $123,000 was crowdsourced in a Kickstarter campaign. 

Eat Drink RI's David Dadekian and Director of Development Katie Kleyla jointly announced the crowdfunding campaign in 2017 for the proposed Smith Hill to be located at 233 West Park Street.  Now, Dadekian has told backers he is no longer with the project -- and Kleyla, who has left Eat Drink RI, has not responded to emails and calls about the future of the project that raised $123,656 to date -- surpassing its "$119,000" goal. 

Despite Dadekian's claims that he is no longer involved, the corporation filed for the food hall in Providence is under his exclusive control and he is the single shareholder.

Dadekian sent out an email this week to supporters distancing himself from the West Park Food Hall project

Thank you for your support of the West Park Food Hall Kickstarter campaign. After receiving some messages from backers I feel it is incumbent upon me to let everyone know that I and Eat Drink RI haven’t been part of that
project since September 2018. My former partner, Ms. Katie Kleyla, took over the entire scope of that project last fall, including any Kickstarter funding. Any and all inquiries and correspondence should be sent to her. Eat Drink RI continues to pursue the Central Market project at India Point with the state’s Division of Environmental Management. Thank you again.
DD
Eat Drink RI
Food will help Rhode Island grow. ®

As recently as October of 2018, Dadekian was still filling documents with Rhode Island state officials asserting his legal control of the "West Park Food Hall" company -- a month after his email claimed he left the project. 

Kleyla did not respond to numerous emails and phone call inquiries about the status of the company and the use of funds raised by the crowdfunding.

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Eat Drink RI's Dadekian on Food Hall -- and Central Market

In 2017, Eat Drink RI was at the forefront of the announcement of the West Park Food Hall. 

"We split about six or seven months ago, you'll have to ask [Katie]," said Dadekian when reached by phone on Thursday, about the future of the project. "I know nothing, I honestly haven't heard anything."

"It was all Katie," said Dadekian, who said he could not comment on the fundraising -- or the future of the Food Hall with Kleyla leaving the Eat Drink RI infrastructure. 

The last "update" on the Kickstarter account was a post from July 20, 2018, announcing a "Kickstarter BYOB & BBQ," with Chris Kleyla of The Statesman in Bristol.

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2014 Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship recipients Amy Berhardt and David Dadekian flank Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, at the award announcement

Dadekian, who received $300,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation in 2014 as part of an "Innovation Fellowship," said that money went to planning -- and that the fate of the proposal, five years later, rests in the hands of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

"The [Rhode Island Foundation] grant went to planning, legal, architecture," said Dadekian. "It was a huge boon."

Chris Barnett with the Rhode Island Foundation said that Dadekian provided a report following the grant; Dadekian did not respond to request to provide the report. 

In 2014, Dadekian said, “My plan is to create a centralized culinary hub for Rhode Island, a complete business-to-business and business-to-consumer center, as well as being a destination for visitors to Rhode Island. This culinary hub would be integral to the way Rhode Islanders eat and create a model for wider emulation in other regions of the country.”

"I wish I had more to tell you, but you'll have to ask [DEM]," said Dadekian of the future of the Central Market. 

Michael Healey with RI DEM provided the following on Thursday. 

"The India Street site is a complicated redevelopment and Mr. Dadekian’s proposal is still under evaluation. I will circle back to you when we’re closer to a final decision," said Healey. 

Regarding the status of the more than $120,000 raised via the Kickstarter campaign -- no one is talking.

 

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