Hammetts Wharf on schedule for May 2020 opening

The 9 million project will include an upscale 84-room boutique hotel, a 4,000 S.F. waterfront restaurant and 3,000 S.F of retail space fronting America’s Cup Avenue. The project will also create permanent public waterfront access.

Newport will welcome a new restaurant, hotel, and several retail stores when Hammetts Wharf opens downtown next year.

During a recent tour of the property, Colin Kane, Principal of the Peregrine Group, told What’sUpNewp that construction of the property (yes, that once homed the Newport Yachting Center/Newport Waterfront Events) is on schedule, despite a very rainy spring, and is scheduled to open in May 2020.

Peregrine Group/Scott’s Wharf LLC acquired the Newport Yachting Center and its wholly owned marina and parking operating entities from the Newport Harbor Corporation in December 2015.  This purchase included 3.4-acres of land that host The Mooring, Smoke House, and The Bohlin, more than two hundred existing surface parking spaces, and the full-service marina.

Newport Harbor Corporation continues to be a tenant/operate The Mooring, Smoke House, and The Bohlin.

Ground was broken on the 9 million Hammetts Wharf construction project, which includes a 84-room boutique hotel, 4,000-square-foot waterfront restaurant and 2,5000-square-foot retail space, on October 23, 2018.

In July 2018, the Board of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation approved a .5 Million TIF for the project which would be paid out over 10 years. According to Appleseed, a third party economic impact analysis firm, at that time this project will create over 80 permanent jobs once the hotel and its associated businesses open. The project is expected to add .7- million annually to Rhode Island’s GDP impact and generate .7 million in new hotel and other tax revenue over a 12-year period.

The Origin of Hammets Wharf

According to Hammetts Wharf website, “Newport native Albert Hammett founded Hammett’s Wharf in 1850, where he operated a successful lumber and hardware business. For fifty years, Mr. Hammett employed hundreds of locals and became a pillar of his community. The revival of Hammetts Wharf in the Spring of 2020 will write the next chapter in Newport’s history, but it’s purpose will be the same. Once a central gathering place for builders, Hammetts Wharf will become a place for visitors throughout the world to gather and enjoy the wonderful amenities that Newport can offer”.

A historic map showing Hammetts Wharf in Newport, RI circa 1865

Looking At The Property

While the ground floor of the hotel will be parking, the retail space and restaurant will occupy the first floor space, while the hotel will occupy the second and third floor.

The sidewalk in front of the property will be widened onto Hammetts Wharf property to create more space for pedestrians to walk by and around the property. The front of the property will also be carefully landscaped and will include a small park, “landing space”, for people to enjoy.

Rendering of the front of Hammetts Wharf Hotel and America’s Cup Avenue

Looking at the back of the property (below), the hotel will take up the top two floors on the left and right of the property, while a hotel deck is on the first floor on the left and the restaurant, and it’s outdoor dining, can be seen on the right.

The arched walk-through invites pedestrian traffic to walk from the front to the back and provides entry to the waterfront. On the ground level, there is permanent public waterfront access.

Rendering of the rear/waterfront side of Hammetts Wharf Hotel
View as of June 23rd

The Restaurant

Many, including us, have thought or believed that the 4,000-square-foot waterfront restaurant would be run by Newport Restaurant Group, seeing that they are already tenants of Peregrine Group.

Kane tells us that’s not the case and at this time says that he has been in talks with three or four different options for the restaurant and that it’s likely to be a regional restaurant group that comes in, “but it’s not Legal Seafood”, Kane says.

Future home of the restaurant at Hammetts Wharf

Hammetts Wharf website states that the restaurant will work “closely with local fisherman, but local farmers play a large part in our restaurant, too”.

Peregrine Group will soon submit an application to Newport City Council for a Class BT – Class B Tavern (Hotel) Liquor License. Tavern licenses (also referred to as a Class B-T) are for operations with reasonable sleeping accommodations as well as kitchens properly equipped and in use, they are tied to the property and can not be transferred or sold.

Castle Hill Inn, Chanler At Cliff Walk, Forty 1 North, Vanderbilt, Hotel Viking, Mainstay Inn, Newport Marriott, Ocean Cliff, The Port, Salt Water, Surf Club, and Gurney’s Newport Restort & Marina all operate under a Class BT License.

The Hotel

Main Street Hospitality will operate the hotel at Hammetts Wharf. This is their first entree into Rhode Island for the Massachusetts based company, which operates five properties in the Berkshires.

The 84 efficiently designed rooms will include private decks for guests, an in-house fitness center, seasonal valet parking, and flexible gathering spaces for groups of twenty to forty. Reservations are set to open in January 2020.


Kane was confident that they’ve found their tenants for their 2,500-3,000 square feet of retail space. Those are expected to be announced as Hammetts Wharf nears completion.

Utilities & Upgrades

A new gas service line is being run to the property from the existing gas main that’s located in front of the Post Office on Thames Street this week, causing some temporary lane changes at night.

Another utility project that Kane is excited about is the burying of all of the utility lines along Scott’s Wharf and the property. Kane sees it as a great opportunity to beautify the area and protect the infrastructure from any future storms.

Kane tells What’sUpNewp that there will be an area that will serve as a park on the Scott’s Wharf/America’s Cup corner of the property and that along with the large public platform, that there will be a public right of way on the waterfront side of the property.

Current view of public walkway and view of waterfront. Restaurant will be on the left, hotel on the right.

Looking Ahead

While the hotel may look far from being done at this moment, you can expect to see closure (walls/ceilings) of the property in August/September, with the property full closed in by late fall. During the closure process, Hammetts Wharf may look like a “big blue box” due to the temporary finish on the building (seen below), Kane says, but the hotel will look like a complete building by Christmas/end of year.

A sample of the final look of the building (the brick front) has been built with windows, stone, brick behind the building to test the windows, structure to weather, etc. The blue is what will temporarily be placed on the outside of the building later this summer and fall.

When complete, Kane expects that Peregrine Group will employ nearly one hundred full time employees between Hammetts Wharf, the marina, and property.

With parking under and behind Hammetts Wharf, as well as their parking lot across from Hammetts Wharf (next to Smoke House), Kane says they will have plenty of parking spaces available for their employees and guests.

After the completion of the Hammetts Wharf property, the next phase will be landscaping the parking lot and area in between Hammetts Wharf and Smoke House, followed by an update to the landscape and lighting of The Mooring parking lot. Both properties will remain parking lots, but Kane believes they can both be made to look a little more approachable/better to look at from America’s Cup.

A reconfiguration of the marina, Newport Yachting Center, will be the final step of the complete property upgrade. “Boats have gotten much bigger since this marina was built,” Kane tells us. The work to the marina will look to make sure their is enough space to safely fit boats of all sizes.

Speaking of the marina, The Newport International Boat Show will continue to call the property and marina home for the foreseeable future, seeing just a 12% reduction of hardscape (tent space) when construction is complete.

“The City (of Newport), Behan’s Bros and our neighbors have been extremely professional .  It’s a great City”, Kane said.

The 84-room hotel will be built on the same lot where Newport Yachting Center tent once stood. It will feature a 4,000-square-foot restaurant, 3,000 square feet of retail space and 1,000 square feet of office space.

NEWPORT — The groundbreaking for the new 84-room Hammetts Wharf Hotel on America’s Cup Avenue will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 23, beginning at 10 a.m.

“We’re excited,” said Colin Kane, one of the principals of developer Peregrine Group along with Sam Bradner.

Kane said Monday he had been waiting to finalize a date for the ceremony so Gov. Gina Raimondo could attend.

“The governor and her team played a big part in making this project happen,” he said.

The Rhode Island Commerce Corp. board voted in July to approve .5 million in tax breaks, known as tax-increment financing, to close a gap in the financing for the project. The tax reductions will be spread over 10 years and applied only after the hotel owners pay taxes each year.

Kane said Monday the project will require an almost 9 million investment by Peregrine, which is based in East Providence.

Construction will continue until May 2020, with interruptions for winter weather and for the Newport International Boat Show that will take place in September 2019.

“We’ll be opening in time for the high tourist season in 2020,” Kane said.

Research of the property showed it historically had been called Hammetts Wharf since colonial times and was the site of multiple businesses over the years, including Hammetts Lumber, he said. There was no apostrophe in the name and the developers will keep it that way, he said.

Peregrine’s affiliate company, Scott’s Wharf LLC, purchased the 4-acre property just north of Perry Mill from the Newport Harbor Corp. in November 2014 for an undisclosed price, ending the concerts, comedy shows and festivals that formerly took place at the Newport Yachting Center.

The hotel will sit on a 1.7-acre parcel of the property where the entertainment tent formerly was located. The developers have argued the hotel and surrounding landscaping now are replacing two large, unattractive parking lots.

The rest of the downtown Peregrine site also includes a marina, The Bohlin banquet and wedding venue, Mooring Restaurant and Smokehouse Cafe. All those business will remain.

Architect Douglas Kallfelz of Union Studio Architecture & Community Design in Providence designed the coming hotel that features a building with three defined segments and an archway on the first floor on America’s Cup Avenue. The archway will lead to a terrace that will be open to the public. The deck will provide a view of the waterfront.

Over the past summer, Kane and Bradner worked with the state Coastal Resources Management Council on guidelines that require coastal developments to include sea-level rise and other climate-change projections in their applications.

Peregrine has installed a stormwater treatment system on the site that prevents untreated water from discharging into the harbor.

“We’ve made some other engineering modifications in connection with handling stormwater, but no building design changes were required by CRMC,” Kane said.

“We’ve been through so many agencies,” he said.

It was about three years ago when he and Bradner began talking to nearby residents and businesses about the proposed hotel, Kane said.

After hearings before the city’s Planning Board, the board members recommended approval in July 2017 under the city’s comprehensive land-use plan, but said public access to the waterfront should be protected.

The city’s Zoning Board of Review approved the project in November 2017 after multiple hearings. At that time, the developers explained why a smaller hotel on the site would not be financially feasible.

The plans also call for a 4,000-square-foot restaurant, 3,000 square feet of retail space and 1,000 square feet of office space.

The project has 166 parking spaces, including 60 spaces beneath the hotel, but the parking is on two separate lots, one on the other side of Commercial Wharf. That required a variance from the zoning board and caused a lot of discussion.

The board said the owners must designate 87 of those parking spaces: one for each hotel room and three for employees. However, if the hotel is not fully booked, the parking spaces can be provided to other guests.

Board members granted the plan’s approval under the condition the owners file an agreement in the city’s land evidence office that allows the public “perpetual” access to the waterfront over the hotel land on a public walkway.

The walkway must be open to the public from dawn to dusk June 1 to Oct. 15, and from 8 a.m. to at least 5 p.m. in the remaining months. After initial concerns, the local Friends of the Waterfront group did not formally object to the project after the developers agreed to establish the public pedestrian path, with hours similar to the existing public harbor walk.

Kane and Bradner also have said they would create a seasonal skating rink just to the north of the hotel, continuing the years-long tradition of having a skating rink on the Newport Yachting Center property.