Site Tour: AS220 Mercantile Block

In Development by Jef Nickerson11 Comments

mercantile_1915
Mercantile Block in 1915

The other day I got to take a tour of the Mercantile Block which is being renovated by AS220. The building will include a renovated retail spaces for Wheels and the locksmith which are current tenants of the building, as well as a restaurant space and a relocated AS220 print shop all on the ground floor. There will also be indoor parking for 20 bikes on the first floor.

The second floor will feature office space and the AS220 Fab Lab. The 3rd and 4th floor will feature residential artist studios.

[edit: the AS220 print shop and the Fab Lab will actually have space on the 1st and 2nd floors.]

AS220 Mercantile Block

The Mercantile Block actually consists of 2 buildings on Washington Street which were renovated and merged into one in 1901. Inside you can see the echo of the two buildings with a brick party wall between the two and a slight difference in elevation on some floors.

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

The ground floor facade has been tortured over the years. Little remains of the original, what does remain will be restored and the building will be brought to its historic look though research of historic photos. The ground floor facade will feature a lot of mahogany.

AS220 Mercantile Block

The project qualified for historic tax credits. In addition to restoring and recreating the Washington and Martha Street facades, the internal stairwells are being restored.

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

Approximately between each row of columns will be where the residences are situated. 22 units with one on each floor being handicapped accessible.

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

Much of the flooring will actually be restored. In some areas, former mercantile functions of the building have left the floors unsalvageable and in other areas, asbestos tiles made the floors unusable, in those areas, replacement flooring will be installed in a way to indicate that it is new.

AS220 Mercantile Block

View down to Washington Street:

AS220 Mercantile Block

The Martha Street (back alley) side of the building will also be renovated to as close to historical accuracy as possible. The facade near Wheels was actually covered over and much of the old detail was able to be determined under the coverings.

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

Martha Street will be rebuilt, however it will have no outlet since it has been abandoned at the far end in anticipation of the Hotel Sierra project. There is the possibility of Martha Street being activated for outdoor sales and such. The restaurant will pass through from Washington to Martha and outdoor seating on Martha is possible.

The brick will be cleaned and repointed and should look much like the brick seen hear on the left on the Dreyfus Hotel building:

AS220 Mercantile Block

AS220 Mercantile Block

The basement will feature offices, music rehearsal spaces, and other uses. Headroom in the basement just met minimal height to allow for occupancy, but the floors were lowered to give a more comfortable headroom. Up to a foot of dirt was removed and some large boulders had to be dealt with.

AS220 Mercantile Block

Bottom of the column is the original floor elevation.

AS220 Mercantile Block

The facade facing the proposed Hotel Sierra will have all the windows filled in in anticipation of hat building’s construction (someday). Hopefully in the interim AS220 will do some more mural painting on this facade.

AS220 Mercantile Block

The project is scheduled to be complete next October, though some of the new ground floor retail locations will begin opening sooner (Wheels closes in January for renovations).

AS220 Mercantile Block

About the Author

Jef Nickerson

Twitter

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.

Comments

  1. Pingback: Bike Providence » downtown INDOOR bike parking?

  2. LOVE the old shot of Washington Street before the streetscape was demolished for a bus terminal (and then eventually parking), and the Dreyfus was still in its original Second Empire form.

  3. I’d love to “borrow” this write up and these pics for archiving on ArtInRuins, if that is ok, Jef. I haven’t been able to be as out and about as you have been. Thanks for the diligence!

  4. Author

    Sure.

    I’m hoping to be able to set up another tour once the inside starts taking shape. This was one of the first opportunities post asbestos abatement to get into the building. If I get in again, I’ll send you an email, maybe you can join me.

  5. Author

    The AS220 Fab Lab will eventually be moving into the Mercantile Building.

  6. Pingback: AS220 Mercantile Block Sneak Preview | Greater City: Providence

  7. Pingback: The New New Parkade | Greater City: Providence

  8. Pingback: Mercantile Block Unwrapped | Greater City: Providence

  9. Pingback: Parkinglotification | Greater City: Providence

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.