Greater City Providence

Johnson & Wales parking garage proposal

Johnson & Wales
Johnson & Wales owned surface lot at the corner of Richmond and Pine Streets

Word about a new parking garage being built by Johnson & Wales University came out of this morning’s Economic Outlook Breakfast:

I contacted the University for more details but there aren’t too many yet. What we do know now is the plan is for an 800-car parking garage to be built this fall on university owned land at the corner of Richmond and Pine Streets. That parcel is currently home to a surface parking lot which serves Johnson & Wales as well as a 3 story building which houses the Mirabar nightclub. The Providence Assessors Database lists that building as owned by JJD Realty, Inc. I asked, but I don’t know if Johnson & Wales seeks to buy that building for their garage or to build around it.

Mirabar Nightclub on Richmond Street

The garage will provide parking for University staff and students, no word on if public spaces will be available. Also, no word on the design of the building at this time.

The garage will theoretically allow the University to move cars out of lots further west on Pine Street, freeing those parcels for planned redevelopment along with the parcels of 195 land the University is set to acquire.

Related to that expansion on the western end, the University also announced at this morning’s breakfast that they were planning a new Physician Assistants program. This may be located in a new building in the 195 land area.

Update: Bit more info, the garage will occupy 3/4 acre, the garage will be 5 levels high, and the construction is expected to take 12-14 months. A very rough measurement of the entire existing parking lot using a Google Maps tool shows that the it slightly over an acre, including the Mirabar building.

Update 2: Ted Nesi tweets that the Physician Assistants program building will not be on 195 land because they need to build it ASAP.

WPRI just reported that building is due to be under construction by October of this year. They will not be able to secure their 195 land prior to that.

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.


  • Any word on if there will be some sort of retail or even small offices on the ground floor. This area needs good mixed-use development and not just a parking garage to be walked by as fast as possible. As far as I’m concerned, if this is not mixed-use, then it is just poor planning. This is especially so for Providence, which desperately needs mixed-use in it’s downtown core if it wants to become a livable city.

  • So is did they buy out Mirabar :)? Good thing I worked there when I was still young n fresh

  • A reliable, but unofficial. source says the Mirabar building has been sold to J&W. That removes the last outside physical obstacle to construction of the parking garage.

    And, yes, let’s all campaign for ground floor retail!

  • J&W has been trying for years to buy the Mirabar building but apperently John Dorr’s price has always been too high. Mr Dorr has been holding out for years. Last I heard (several years ago) he was asking about $1 mil

  • As far as I am aware, there has been a long-standing battle over land ownership on this parcel, though the building itself is not changing hands.

    It is a bit of a misnomer to say that the existing surface parking lot services the Mirabar building as well. For the last several years, the land owner has restricted the parking to JWU use only. Many an evening, the lot can be seen nearly empty while the surrounding clubs (including Mirabar), are hopping. In fact, in recent years, Mirabar has been unable to use surrounding parking lot space for their annual block party.

    Further, the building has undergone extensive renovations to add new points of ingress/egress to make up for the fact that JWU will no longer let a side door (that opens into the surface parking) be used for anything other than an emergency exit.

    I honestly don’t see Mirabar going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Very interesting proposal. Because well over a decade ago in a Technical Writing course at JWU my group had proposed a parking garage on one of the parcels on Pine St.

    We had proposed a slightly bigger (8 to 9 levels) with smaller capacity (500).

  • 1. Does J&W anticipate sufficient income from this garage to pay the construction and operating costs? Or do they believe that they can not advance their educational mission or attract the right employees unless they provide “Free” or subsidized parking?

    2. Is a garage owned by an educational institution exempt from property tax?

  • They said the garage would be for students and staff, I do not know if they currently charge them for parking, Brown and RISD do.

    A garage should be taxed (I mean by law, not my opinion, though apparently Brown has some parking which may not be being taxed), I don’t know where this falls into the agreement the City recently reached with the University though. It may be part of that agreement, it may be in addition to that agreement.

  • I made the mistake of going to Mirabar this past weekend (god bless it). I asked the bartender if JWU bought them out yet. He answered right away “haven’t signed anything yet, but if we do then we will just move locations.”

  • I think the salient points (brought up by others) are, 1 – will they pay taxes & 2 – Will there be street level retail, 3 – Will the Mirabar relocate to some god-awful corner of Providence outside of the Downcity area (Thinking old MB @ HArris Ave).

  • Instead of encouraging more cars on the road J&W should encourage the use of public transportation. There’s enough pollution in the city. Just what the city needs, another eyesore. Go J&W!!! Idiots.

  • Ron, J&W isn’t building this garage to expand their parking capacity. They are building it to consolidate their parking so that they can build on their existing surface lots. Multiple surface lots are much more of an eyesore than a single garage structure, especially one with a thoughtful, contextual design such as this one.

  • Pretty sure Providence is one of the cleaner cities around too btw.. An issues that is improving even if I’m wrong

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