The University of Rhode Island’s Providence campus would move out of the historic Shepard Building to an unknown location under state plans to sell government real estate released on Friday evening.
The state Board of Elections would be moved out of its current Providence headquarters on Branch Avenue, and the state Medical Examiner’s Office would move from its laboratory on Orms Street in the next two years, according to the proposals from an ad hoc committee charged with finding state savings. The recommendations do not say where either of those agencies would go.
The real estate sales are part of a wider effort by a group of state officials and groups with business before the state, known as the Efficiency Commission, to come up with at least $10 million in money-saving ideas for the budget year that starts July 1.
By putting more than a dozen state properties on the market — including the Shepard Building, BOE headquarters and morgue — the Efficiency Commission estimates revenue of $16 million to $25 million over the next two years, plus savings of another $2.5 million by reducing annual operating costs.
Those figures do not include the cost of finding new homes for the current occupants.
Other properties on the state for sale list include a vacant warehouse on Colorado Avenue in Warwick that the Department of Transportation once hoped to turn into a materials testing lab, but abandoned when the cost rose. There’s also a storage facility in Coventry, a commercial building in Providence, a vacant prison building at the Adult Correctional Institutions, a juvenile corrections building in Cranston, a medical building in Pawtucket and six vacant group-home buildings across the state.
The plan also mentions, farther down the road, selling part of the Zambarano Hospital campus in Burrillville.
The recommendations include $4.5 million in operational changes, including staff consolidation, shifting costs onto municipalities and getting rid of unused or overly expensive phone lines.
The plan would fold the Office of Postsecondary Commissioner into the Department of Education, consolidate lead-paint regulators, reduce the number of teachers at the Rhode Island Training School and move the Coastal Resources Managment Council into the Department of Environmental Management offices.
The plan identifies $6 million to $10 million from property sales next year, and $800,000 in savings from managing fewer buildings. The larger profit from property sales, $10 million to $15 million, would come in 2021.
In many cases, savings would come from reorganizing state office buildings to accommodate workers now in leased office space.
The Department of Administration’s Powers Building across the street from the State House could hold 180 more workers, the plan estimates.
The Shepard Building, a former department store on Washington Street, houses URI classes and Department of Education offices. While state officials have given little idea where the URI classes or state medical lab might relocate,the state last week received five bids to house the Board of Elections.
They were from 545 Funding LLC, Mutual Properties 14 Thurber LLC, One Jake’s Way LLC and Paolino Properties, according to state purchasing documents. No further details about the bids were available.