Greater City Providence

ProJo property tour

Providence Business News reports on the properties that ProJo parent Belo is selling in the capital city. Through the magic of Google Street View, let’s take a little tour of the properties up for sale.

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First up is the ProJo headquarters building on Fountain Street, built in 1934. The PBN story says that the Fountain Street building is 160,000 square feet, however a slimmed down Providence Journal only needs 60,000 square feet of that space. It is unknown at this time if the ProJo intends to maintain their headquarters in the Fountain Street building and lease back the space from a future owner, or if they will seek to move to new smaller offices. This will determine how much the building is worth to a future owner.

One thing that could change with a new owner of the Fountain Street building is the one story garage addition at Emmettt Square.

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This garage was originally attached to the building for delivery trucks to pick up papers. With printing now taking place on Kinsley Avenue, this garage is no longer needed. Removal of this garage could help open up Emmett Square for proposed changes which would formalize the square, detangle traffic in the area, and allow for better pedestrian crossings between Downcity, the mall, Capital Center, and points to the west.

Next up is the Parkade Garage on Washington Street:

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Here you can see that the Parkade currently has a vacant retail space at the corner of Union and Washington Streets. Most recently this was occupied by Groundwork Providence, it has been vacant for more than a year however. With a little vision, one could see that this retail space could be extended further along the Washington Street frontage at the ground level of the garage.

Directly behind the garage and back in the Emmett Square area is the surface parking lot at the corner of Fountain and Eddy Streets.

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This is the one remaining undeveloped parcel fronting Emmett Square and the one remaining surface parking lot in the so-called Greater Kennedy Plaza area. One thing that I’ve wanted for Downcity is a Marshall’s or a TJMaxx. Both have urban locations in Boston and I think this location would be ideal for a Providence stores. Now that we have JCPenney’s in the mall, the need for a discount department store is not as great as it was before, but more variety in our retail scene still would be welcome. This near Kennedy Plaza area means that most people in the city could reach it by bus. A department store at this location could feature parking above.

PBN says that 73 Matthewson Street is among the other properties that are up for sale.

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The Google tells me this is the parking lot behind the Cosmopolitan Building (the building Murphy’s is in). I had assumed this was owned by the Cosmopolitan. The AS220 Print Shop on Matthewson is at 95, so 73 would seem to be here. Who knew? I would assume that this will continue to be surface parking as this seems to be where the residents of the Cosmopolitan park.

Across from this lot is another lot that ProJo owns (see some sort of pattern here?):

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This lot runs the whole block on one side of Matthewson Street between Washington and Fountain, you can see the ProJo headquarters in the background there. Guess who parks here? ProJo employees. This large parcel in the heart of Downcity would seem to have a lot of potential for redevelopment. This giant parking lot is terrible urbanism.

This all amounts to a lot of property Downcity with a lot of development potential. The assessed combined value of these properties is $33.2 million and Belo Corp. is attempting to sell them as a package deal. The economy being in the toilet and questions about where ProJo’s headquarters will be have an impact on the final value of the properties.

Also for sale is the ProJo property on Kinsley Avenue:

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Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.

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