By Tom Shevlin
The Armory Antiques Center could get a new lease on life if City Council members vote to approve a proposed lease agreement next Wednesday.
Appearing on the council's Jan. 9 docket is a request by the city manager to authorize staff to negotiate a lease agreement with CHT, LLC for the leasing and management of the first and second floors of the Armory.
The proposed use would be as an antique center on the main floor, and offices on the second floor.
Terms of the agreement include an initial span of three years, at a per annum rent of $60,000, or $5,000 per month.
It's a similar agreement to one that was rejected last year by the former property managers.
Owned by the City of Newport, the Lower Thames Street Armory Building was neglected for decades before finally undergoing significant upgrades over the past two years.
In recent years, the building housed an antiques center in the main drill hall.
As City Manager Jane Howington noted in a memo to councilors, the center has been managed by various entities, the latest being the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation (RILF). "Recently the RILF informed the City they would like to transition out of the antique center management to more fully focus on their main mission," she wrote. "As a result, the City issued a request for proposals for the management of the antique center. Three proposals were submitted. All three responders were qualified to operate the center as per the RFP specifications and provided all required documentation. The proposed lease terms of CHT, LLC were most advantageous to the City."
If approved, CHT, LLC would be created as a new entity with a management team comprised of Anthony Zaloumis, the longtime proprietor of the former Newport County Antiques and Consignments in Portsmouth; current Armory antiques dealer Cynthia Lee, and Hammish Gunn of Middletown's Finer Consigner.
If approved, in addition to the required $5,000 monthly rent, the managers will be required to provide the city with 2.5 percent of all gross sales above $300,000, assume responsibility for all utilities on the two upper floors, and would be required to sublease an office space to the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation at a rate not to exceed $700 per month.