Greater City Providence

Rumormill: J&W to ProJo?

Ian Donnis on his Not For Nothing blog drops a little rumor in his first of a series of posts on the News Apocalypse.

Btw, a ProJo source called me yesterday, confident in the belief that J+W had bought the Journal Building and its related properties. Lisa Pelosi, speaking for J+W, says it ain’t so.

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money behind Lisa’s comment. Though J&W from all I’ve heard has weathered the economic downturn better than most colleges, and though their near future plans seem to have them refocused on expansion here at home in Providence, the Journal Building’s location seems to not fit in with those plans.

As reported in the Providence Journal in June and discussed on UrbanPlanet Johnson & Wales is looking toward the land soon to be made available by the removal of Route 195 to form a more cohesive Downcity Campus on the border of Downcity and the Jewelry District (Providence Journal Graphic ).

Far from buying up buildings on the far side of Downcity, Johnson & Wales (according to the June ProJo article) will be getting rid of a couple properties on Westminster Street as they expand into the 195 land. Of course things could have changed, though J&W has reportedly weathered the economy well, a change in strategy from new construction toward collecting existing buildings is not out of the question (total speculation here). What if J&W were to change the ProJo Building into a dorm like RISD did with the Old Hospital Trust Building at 15 Westminster Street? Would something like that be a welcome addition to the area, or should we hope for more for the future of the ProJo Building?

* Oh, and I’m looking forward to more of Ian’s News-Apocalypse series.

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.


  • On the plus side: more people on the street over there. On the minus side: yet another large piece of property off the tax rolls.

    My suspicion is that the ProJo building is too far away from the rest of the campus for them to want to use for a dorm anyway.

  • 1) This is very plausible, at least in the context of what JWU has done in the past: both the acquisition of pre-existing buildings and properties far away from their main campus (examples: the Minden Hotel, and the ENTIRE HARBORSIDE CAMPUS) have been part of their MO.

    2) In terms of the 195 land, I don’t ever expect them to give up their pursuit of it: in some of the earliest public airings of the highway relocation plan in 1992, a JWU rep is on record asking if the school could acquire some of the freed-up parcels. However, one possibility is that they have been informed (maybe through an advance copy of the plan for the highway land, due to be released next month) that their chances of getting some are middling to low, resulting in their looking into alternatives.

    Of course, assuming they have the money, it’s not necessarily an either-or situation.

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