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UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street

Update 06/22/2012: Union Studio Architects has updated the proposed 257 Thayer Street Building.

Union Studio proposal for 257 Thayer Street.

PBN: Thayer Street apartment project redesigned

“We worked hard to break the scale down into elements that were legible at the street,” said Union Studio principal Donald Powers. “There is a section that responds to Thayer, a section that responds to Euclid, Meeting and Brook. Probably the biggest change is to open up the building with views into the courtyard.”


ProJo: ProJo: Four-story apartment building proposed near Brown University

Gilbane Development Corp. wants to build a four-story apartment building off Thayer Street near the Brown University campus that could house more than 200 people.


See also:


Update: Renderings

gilbane-brown-student-proposal-large

Rendering: Click image to enlarge

gilbane-brown-apartments-site-plan

Site plan: Click image to enlarge


Update: 257 Thayer Street Information


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85 Responses to UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street

  1. Eric March 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm #

    I definitely don’t like the looks of this… By my count, we’d lose 10 multi-unit houses that are in good condition from all appearances. Also, would Ben & Jerry’s, Byblos and Princeton Review have to find new locations?

  2. Jef Nickerson March 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I still want to see what’s planned, but I’m never thrilled about the prospect of tearing down perfectly functional buildings. Especially when I know there were at least 2 responses to Brown’s RFP on this that did not include tearing down buildings.

  3. David Rocha March 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Yeah, I’m not sure if I dig this idea entirely. Are there any renderings of any of the options?

  4. Anthony March 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    There is a rendering on the Projo website now

  5. Jef Nickerson March 13, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

    Heavens to Betsy that’s ugly.

    Sadly reminds me of the unbuilt Belmote Castello on Federal Hill.

  6. JBouchard March 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Judging from the rendering and the seemingly narrow profile of the building (the Thayer Street frontage is the facade at left), there would be four houses removed as well as the structure at the corner of Thayer and Euclid. The structure used to house Esta’s (mystical shop with incidental XXX video store on the 2nd floor), recently a pizza cone place, and now something else. It was recently renovated too after being vacant for years.

    The building housing Johnny Rockets, Kabon-n-Curry, the space formerly known as Spikes (now Philly Cheesesteak? yuck), would remain…based on the rendering. The building immediately to the left is now Kabob-n-Curry.

    I’m not a fan of the building – but I am a fan of the “turret” on the corner – it reminds me of the building at the base of Thomas Street at North Main that houses Cafe Choklad. It’s ok… could be a lot worse (re: Brown’s Life Sciences building across the street).

  7. jencoleslaw March 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    that render looks like everything being built in the dc metro suburbs right now, to make it appear “walkable” but the massing is way too dense and there are never enough windows.

    Also, where are all the cars?

  8. Bret Ancowitz March 13, 2012 at 10:55 pm #

    That funny Jen. I was just thinking, “Hum, that looks like everything in D.C. built after 1990″ then saw your comment. Spot on.

    Remove the turret, and it looks frighteningly like Capitol Cove downtown, but less yellow. 8-|

    Thayer has long been crying out for more density and retail/residential options though. I personally liked the proposal a couple of years ago for a market and additional retail on Cushing that would expanded, not just replaced, offerings. The right idea, but arguably it was the wrong group that proposed it…

  9. Bret Ancowitz March 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm #

    By the way, during the bubble, banks were only backing condos and not rentals due to what was felt as the higher profit potential and less long-term downside of condo developments. In fact, the Capitol Cove folks said at a zoning meeting (when asked why they were planning condos and not rentals) that they would have loved to build them as such, but the banks would never lend them they money for anything other than condos…

    Now, with 2 apartment buildings proposed for Wayland Square, one now floated for Thayer, the anticipated Arcade conversion, and ongoing work on the former commercial buildings on Dorrance, it looks like the trend has come a full 180, no?

  10. jencoleslaw March 14, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    I’m all for density (it is our destiny!) but that’s just ugly and thick-looking. Thayer is a small street. the buildings are small, the street is small, everything is kind of small, so a 4 story apartment building with almost 200 apartments in it needs to be somehow more…delicate. It doesn’t fit in with the streetscape at all. I think the architect can do a much better design. And the city and Brown should require it.

    This looks like a monster suburban CVS. Just because it is built to the street doesn’t make it any less crappy looking.

  11. Towne Street March 14, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    It’s infuriating that existing buildings within a thriving streetscape must be flattened while numerous underutilized parcels with nothing but pavement are left to whither. What is it about bad urban renewal that developers find so appealing?

  12. Eric March 14, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    After seeing that rendering, I’m even angrier about this project. Looks like they picked “Generic Apartment Building #462B” from the catalog of inappropriate architecture. It’s a cash grab – plain and simple. These apartments will be average at best, but they will demand a premium for being “new,” and I’m willing to bet that most of the occupants will be college kids from out of state with mommy and daddy paying the rent.. Let’s bring affordable rental housing to places in the city that actually need it, please. How about one of the many vacant wastelands between Broad & Eddy?

  13. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 10:26 am #

    I hate that turret, without it I find the building much less offensive (aside from the offense of tearing down existing buildings). Were this proposed by Johnson & Wales (or Brown or whoever) in the Jewelry District/195 Land, I’d think, “meh,” be glad for the density, and that’s all. On Thayer, tearing down existing buildings, I hate it.

    I also hate the reflective roadway. ;)

  14. Eric March 14, 2012 at 10:27 am #

    Also, based on this rendering, am I to assume that Euclid and Thayer streets will be repaved with glass as part of this project?

  15. Liam March 14, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    This is bad bad bad. WAYYYYY too big and chunky for where it is, and too many perfectly nice buildings would come down in the process. I wouldnt mind something a little more commercial (and to the street) where the Estas Too building is right on Thayer, but this is just gutting the street of its personality. Dislike!

  16. Peter Brassard March 14, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    Jef, Did it say who the architect was when you found the rendering? Was it a local office?

    This kind of postmodern architecture is often used under the pretense that might be better accepted by the general public, since it recalls elements from earlier times. Also changing materials can be a way to distract people from focusing on the building massing.

    A 4-story building mass could work well at this location. This design with its articulation of the facade, windows, colors, and materials fails. It’s crude, clunky, and dated.

    More objectionable is the underutilized ground floor, which shows a single activated retail corner that breaks down to isolated residential or office windows and a driveway portal along the Thayer Street sidewalk. The majority of the Thayer Street frontage should be retail, not 25% or less that the rendering shows. If they have the full block frontage, driveway access could be located on a side street.

  17. jen coleslaw March 14, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Let me guess. It is just under the 40K sq ft threshold for City Plan Commission to see it? I am not thinking it would need a use change because it is already residential commercial on that street, but it would need to consolidate some parcels via zoning I guess…? Does anyone know?

  18. Towne Street March 14, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    The full article in today’s Projo states that it must be reviewed by both CPC and City Council.

  19. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 11:33 am #

    Peter:
    It is a Gilbane proposal, I don’t know if they have a preferred architect they use or staff architects or what.

  20. Jason March 14, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Yeah, that’s pretty awful. Scale is totally wrong. If there isn’t public retail for the whole first floor it’s a waste. Thayer can actually support street-level commercial activity. Students should be walking in small discrete doors that lead right to a staircase.

  21. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    East Side Monthly: New Four-Story Building Proposed for Thayer Street

  22. Peter Brassard March 14, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    The project is probably in the 22,000 sq ft range.

  23. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    The East Side Monthly article has much more information and photos, including a site plan. The retail situation is even worse than imaged with retail only on that rounded corner, the other storefront on Thayer Street is a “leasing office.”

    The interior courtyard appears to have a much nicer facade treatment than the street facing facades, they should turn it inside out. Of course Gilbane is proud of how the materials and details draw inspiration from the neighborhood. Sigh, why can they not understand that taking one element from each neighboring building and making a frankenbuilding is not appropriate or attractive?

  24. Peter Brassard March 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm #

    Link – plans and photos?

  25. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Peter: East Side Monthly.

  26. jen coleslaw March 14, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    here’s a worry i would have–Gilbane says he’ll be paying 2x the taxes the current buildings/tenants pay. But, what will happen to those businesses and tenants? I remember working on a project in Arctic Village in West Warwick–a developer was going to basically plow under an entire main street and rebuild, but none of the businesses could afford to relocate, or buy into the new building, even at “attractive” leasing rates.

    So while Gilbane may be paying 2x the property taxes, suddenly we may lose what…6? or more businesses paying business tax and providing jobs etc.

    and all for a wicket crappy building for students that will become trashy pretty quick.

    BTW, i have seen the buildings at VCU in Richmond (i knew they looked familiar!) because i have to pass them on my way to the state house. They don’t look so bad down there, but I have no idea what historical property was torn asunder in order for those full block buildings to go up…

  27. Michael March 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

    Some of the house around there are so trashy though. Are these houses that are in danger in good condition? And wouldn’t this project add a little density?

    And does it look like first floor retail in those renders?

  28. Peter Brassard March 14, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    My mistake, I misunderstood the rendering. The driveway portal is on Euclid. As indicated in the plan, they’re taking up most of the block and would be demolishing 8 or 9 houses. The project would likely be between 100,000 and 120,000 sq ft, not including below grade parking.

    There would be hardly any damage and possibly improvement to the Thayer Street retail frontage. They’re showing a leasing office plus corner retail as part of the new construction and three of the existing Thayer Street mixed commercial buildings are being preserved and I presume re-used for retail.

    This project would indeed increase the tax base and expand the city’s housing stock. It’s really unfortunate that the street facade is so lousy and not to mention expensive.

    Jef, I had missed the number tabs in the article that lead to the other images. It might help others to understand the project if you could post the courtyard and plan views.

  29. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    I know what would increase the tax base; building something like this on one of the 300 million surface lots we have throughout the city.

    This is proposed here because someone owns a bunch of houses on Euclid and now sees an opportunity to cash in, rather than maintaining or improving their existing properties. And Providence still makes it the easiest thing ever to just tear down a bunch of buildings if you want to. And hey, if the project doesn’t work out, then there will be lots of fresh parking for Thayer Street, I bet the CHNA would love a parking lot (am I being sarcastic, you decide).

    This is supposedly being built for grad students. Do grad students even want to live in the Thayer Street student ghetto? RISD put their grad housing downtown in 15West (and did not have to tear anything down to do it). I’ve never been a grad student, but I’d imagine if I was I’d prefer to be near the restaurants and culture and grown up drinking establishments downtown rather than hanging out on Thayer with underclassmen with fake ID’s.

    There is no end of surface lots and underused buildings waiting to be developed, and this is what Brown endorses.

    Brown, why do you make it so hard for me to continue to say nice things about you?

  30. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I’ve updated the original post with the site plan.

  31. Towne Street March 14, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I know this is speculative, but if they’re going to build a streetcar system that connects the Jewelry District, a place with abundant vacant lots, with College Hill, they should build it there and have the residents take the streetcar to campus.

  32. Peter Brassard March 14, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    I don’t disagree. If it is to be built, readers of this forum and others should demand at public reviews that no demolition should take place until the project is FULLY permitted.

    Beyond the purchase a collection of multi-family properties, Gilbane would have additional financial skin in the site with full architectural, engineering, approvals, attorneys, and building permit fees.

    The going rate for a surface parking space is $15,000 per space. If they spent $4 or $5 million to buy up the block and then decided to construct a parking lot, the spaces would cost between $40,000 and $50,000 each—not very cost effective. If other related fees were added, the costs for them to construct a parking lot would be ridiculous.

  33. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    If the Med School students are looking for housing they wouldn’t even need the streetcar.

    I suppose some Brown grads will opt to live in the Micro-Lofts at the Arcade.

  34. Bret Ancowitz March 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I think most of us got this rendering wrong looking at the site plan. The “damage” to Thayer is actually quite minimal and Euclid, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t miss the houses there (and their “upkeep”) and along Brook very much.

    The real hit to the streetscape would be to Meeting street, where all of the home/retail conversions housing Ben and Jerry’s, Byblos, Princeton Review, etc would all vanish. I would absolutely want retail in this building fronting Meeting St to replace or even exceed what’s available on Meeting right now, as Thayer, if anything, needs more, not less, retail frontage.

    I also agree x1000 that no demolition should take place until the project is 100% permitted. This has “Thayer Parking Trojan Horse” written all over it. Part of the approval, actually, shoudl be a ban for using it as surface parking for 100 years.

  35. Jef Nickerson March 14, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    I think we’re being too hard on the houses on Euclid Street. Sure most of them (all of them?) are full of students that don’t treat them well, but none of them appear to be on the verge of collapse, and a quick stroll down the street via Google Street View shows that none of them appear to have suffered any hideous renovations or additions. Some of them are even free of vinyl siding. Pretty much all of them have their yards completely paved, but that’s what a century long parking ban gets you.

    It was not too long ago that people wanted to tear down all the slums on Benefit Street and turn it into a giant helicopter pad and deluxe apartments in the sky.

  36. Peter Brassard March 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    infilled by ranch houses

  37. Town Designer March 14, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Looks like the architects are from Baltimore- hence the DC look – http://www.grantarchitects.com/
    Unfortunate urbanism, confused architecture.

    There is a decent building 3 blocks up on Thayer and Bowen that is 4-5 stories. It is a skillful composition using courtyards, smaller frontages on the street and setbacks. No retail, but it could have a great restaurant with outdoor seating. It is a Brown building.

  38. Liam March 15, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    This is a very nice rendering of a parking lot. I wonder if it will have an attendant or be self service.

  39. Jason March 15, 2012 at 11:24 am #

    Town Designer– Brown is renovating that space to get more beds and update the inside (which was crumbling).

  40. Ned Cummiskey March 15, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    As a salute to Waterfire there could be a permanent flame in the bowl on the roof.

    I like the trees also.

  41. Andrew I March 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Lots of good comments. What have I to add?

    I say no demolition until the construction budget is in ESCROW.

    I guess off-street parking is mandated. Oy. There should be less of it. It should rent separately from the dwelling units. If the income from parking can not amortize the cost of building it, why should residential rent subsidize it? The spaces should be available to people who do not live in the project.

    Funny how government interference in the marketplace is a bad thing unless it is a hidden subsidy for automotive transportation.

    My favorite thing about it: eliminating curb cuts.

    Not so much pure ugly, as pure mediocre. A small mediocre building is no big thing but this is like 3 1/2 blocks of mediocrity. Still, not so ugly that I would fight to stop it.

    With retail rents as high as they are around there, I am surprised there are no storefronts on the side streets. Is that a zoning thing? Is the purpose of zoning to provide a windfall to landlords of limited existing retail space?

    Sure we want to see something replace empty lots and parking lots all over town, but that is the location where the demand can be safely predicted.

  42. Jef Nickerson March 19, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Brown Daily Herald: New student apartments proposed for Thayer

    The complex would consist of 102 furnished apartments, housing a total of 277 students in single bedrooms, each with a private bathroom and connected to a living room with a 42-inch plasma screen television, Gilbane said. Residents would have access to yoga studios, fitness clubs, group study rooms, an underground parking lot, bike storage and an interior courtyard encircled by the building complete with barbeque pits.

    “We’re developing the next level of student housing,” Gilbane said. He estimated that rent for these “luxury” apartments would cost between $1,000 and $1,400 per month.

    I am going to a get a job as a Brown Grad Student, they must get paid well better than I do. My 4 bedroom apartment on Federal Hill, which granted is not furnished; “luxury;” nor features a barbeque pit, is $950/month. I’m just saying.

  43. Jef Nickerson March 20, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    A friend of mine sent me this photo of a student housing complex in Fargo, North Dakota:

    It was built by a private developer on a Thayer-like retail strip near North Dakota State University.

    Due to comparable apartments nearby renting for $200/month, this building has been deemed a financial failure. Plus, it is wicked ugly.

  44. jencoleslaw March 20, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    I am pretty sure I saw that same building in College Park, MD last month. Just say no to bloated cookie cutter ‘luxury’ dorms.

  45. Sarah Zurier March 20, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    That building is all over the UPenn campus in Philly. Ground zero was 34th + Walnut, but now it’s everywhere. It’s like an infestation.

  46. jencoleslaw March 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    someone should really print out all these pictures and present the CPC and/or Zoning (depending on who sees it) with the packet of craptaular “luxury” dorms.

  47. Adam March 21, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    All the Brown grad students I know want to get away from Thayer Street and therefore opt to live in either Wayland Square or Hope between Rochambeau and Blackstone (aka “grown-up Thayer Street).

    As far as rents go, despite the 1,000-1,400 seeming high, I have seen comparable rents along Brook Street that don’t even include parking.

  48. Jef Nickerson March 29, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    More information including unit floor plans and more: 257 Thayer Street Information [.pdf]

  49. Bret Ancowitz March 29, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    I would be all over this *concept* (not design) if it at least *expanded* retail, maintaining retail on Meeting St and expanded it onto Euclid as well (where there is at least a hairdresser, who would go now as well), as Thayer St could use more storefronts to meet demand and perhaps lower existing rents via more competition. But this *decreases* retail. Amazing…

  50. Jef Nickerson March 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    I’ve thought that Euclid had the potential to become Thayer Street’s DePasquale Plaza. My thinking, is again comparing Thayer Street to Harvard Square, Harvard has “The Pit” at the T Station entrance which is a gathering/meeting area, and also an area where buskers perform and other interesting things happen (there’s also nearby Brattle Square).

    Thayer doesn’t really have a place, it is a linear street with no gathering area save for maybe the sidewalk outside the Brown Bookstore (which maybe could be improved to start to play the part of Harvard’s Pit, but I don’t think it would really work).

    Pedestrianizing Euclid Street, installing street furniture, maybe a fountain (a la Depasquale) would give Thayer a destination, “meet me at Euclid Plaza.” Then people continue on their way to other destinations along the street. Euclid isn’t a through-street, it does not connect to other streets at either end, so closing it to autos doesn’t really mess with auto circulation at all. The houses on either side have alley access, so their curb cuts can be removed and they can continue to be accessed from the alley.

    A building, of this mass (the design is poor, the mass, I can consider…) would be a good anchor for such a plaza. But without retail, it would not work. With retail, the pedestrianization of Euclid is something that should be strongly considered.

  51. Eric March 29, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    I read through that PDF, and part of the plan is to “increase retail vibrancy” along Thayer.. How do they plan to accomplish that goal while eliminating several thriving retail establishments?

  52. Bret Ancowitz March 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Outstanding suggestion Jef. You should attend the CPC and/or city council meetings with the suggestion or write it in to them. This, however, seems to be a lowest common denominator design, a template whipped out of something they’ve built before (but with brick!) designed to just cash in on packing in as many students as possible, retail streetscape be damned.

    Thayer Street has been crying out for something new, something dense for a while. Too bad it’s this…

  53. Jef Nickerson April 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    ProJo: Public meeting April 10 for 4-story apartment project near Brown University

    The meeting, which is open to the public, will be in the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum at 199 Hope St. The meeting is set to begin at 7 p.m. The 257 Thayer Street project presentation can be found at collegehillna.com.

  54. Eric April 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Does anyone else appreciate the irony of the public meeting being held in a beautiful historic building that contributes to the character of its neighborhood in a gracious way?

  55. Jef Nickerson April 11, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Brown Daily Herald: Proposed Thayer housing draws criticism

    This…

    After an hour of Gilbane’s presentation, the crowd of about 50 people began to get restless, and Gilbane was interrupted with questions and concerns.

    …oh thank Maude I did not go to this meeting, what could they possibly have droned on about for an hour?

  56. jencoleslaw April 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Just long enough for people to get bored and leave. But clearly they didn’t not expect the East Side staying power.

  57. Fred April 12, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Well, I went to the Lippitt House meeting…it was Mr. Gilbane who droned on and ON restating the ‘features’ of the building and making, er, clever, little asides designed to imply his own power and connectedness. I kinda wanted to bathe after listening to it all…but, in the end, as someone who’s generally a great fan of good old houses, I have to say that the general CONCEPT/parti/whatever is really quite sound and should be decent urbanistically, the design, however, is a phoned-in dog’s breakfast by a Baltimore developer’s-architect (hasn’t Baltimore done ENOUGH already to drag down Providence?!), having nothing to do with Providence other than attempting to pander to the upper-middle-class NIMBY types who packed a lot of the room, whining that Brown should donate land on its own campus for this (private) development and wanting to save ‘historic’ houses. Well, I’m a huge fan of historic houses, and there are some handsome houses on the block which were once lovely low-key family houses, but they really are utterly denatured, hammered, and the cost/benefit on bringing them back to any kind of pristine condition is hopeless in that location. There isn’t an individual one of them significant enough architecturally or historically that I can see to warrant any protest for razing them (unlike, say, the really cool Stick Style/Gothic one a block or two south, which I’d chain myself to to save in similar circumstances).

    I wish the CHNA could get their resources squarely behind holding Gilbane’s feet to the fire to get MUCH more talented LOCAL architects (William Kite, Lerner/Ladds/Bartols, and Union Studio all come to mind right off the bat…), who understand the city and its design heritage and social subtleties, rather than allowing this generic piece of garbage to be dropped upon us. Ghastly off-brown brick (and equally cheap red brick) all mixed up with metal or fiberglass panels, probably some fake cast ‘stone’ ‘detail’ and wretched cliche segmental arches plus a hood ornament…all attempting to pose, in true carnival false-front style, as ‘row houses’ a typology with practically no history in Providence. YECCH. The “Progress” drawings shown at the meeting by Gilbane were actually WORSE than the original concept sketches, were that possible. There are some great garden apartment buildings and other very clever ca. 1895-1925 multi-unit housing precedents all over the East Side, typically in ONE color of GOOD brick with some rather English-domestic details or sometimes in a stuccoed Mission/Arts & Crafts style – they need to be looking at these if there’s any hope of a dignified building that doesn’t look like an inner-city WalMart.

    Sigh. A guy can dream, right?

  58. Bret Ancowitz April 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm #

    Fred,
    Thanks for the report. I largely agree eith all of your opinions. Did anyone at the meeting address the loss of retail spaces that this project would cause?

  59. bhooley April 17, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    Agree that it’s not the best looking building. Maybe this type of architecture will be similar to Brutalism someday – we’ll hate it now but appreciate it for its ugliness in the future and also as a symbol of the times.

    Thayer could always be a candidate to expand its retail. Especially on the side streets or somehow create a square as you suggested Jef.

  60. Eric April 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Does anyone really appreciate the ugliness of Brutalism? Boston City Hall is a shining example of an architect’s ego getting in the way of good design.

    This proposal is a shining example of a staff architect slapping together a bunch of disjointed pieces and calling it a contextual building.

  61. Jef Nickerson April 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I like Boston City Hall, I don’t like the plaza that surrounds it.

  62. Jef Nickerson April 19, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Brown Daily Herald: Editorial: The high cost of the high-priced Thayer apartments

  63. Jef Nickerson April 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    The College Hill Neighborhood Association responds:

    CHNA Board of Directors responds to the 257 Thayer Street proposal by the Gilbane Development Company

    The College Hill Neighborhood Association (CHNA) Board of Directors has formed a response regarding the 257 Thayer Street Gilbane Development Company proposal. After reviewing materials from the developer, feedback from residents, and discussions with various stakeholders, the CHNA Board of Directors has determined that there has not been sufficient time or adequate materials available for the CHNA Board of Directors to be able to clearly endorse or oppose the proposed 257 Thayer Street student residence project. The CHNA Board of Directors has therefore voted unanimously to abstain from voting directly on this project. It is our intent, moving forward, to be proactive in our approach and collaborate effectively to preserve the best interest of the residents of College Hill and the greater community.

    The College Hill Neighborhood Association Board of Directors has voted unanimously to provide the City Council and the Providence City Planning Department the following recommendations for the 257 Thayer Street / Gilbane Development Company proposal or any other high-density development project proposed for this area going forward.

    1. Slow down the process. The city recently finalized a long-term comprehensive plan and a neighborhood plan, both of which were developed with extensive participation from residents of the affected areas. Any major zoning changes that affect density as greatly as the proposed project should go back to the residents through a charrette to determine if such zoning changes would be to the benefit of the community.
    2. Consider multiple projects together. The proposed zoning change for the 257 Thayer Street apartment building should be considered in conjunction with the hotel and dorm proposed for neighboring blocks since they would greatly affect each other\’s design, scale and impact on the surrounding neighborhood. In addition, the relative merits of an apartment building should be weighed against other prospective projects to maximize the impact on economic development.
    3. Guaranteed placement on the tax rolls. As described, the proposed 257 Thayer Street student residence project could be of interest to Brown in the future and we request a guarantee that the property will never be taken off the tax rolls. This could take the form of a “poison pill” contractual obligation from the developer or then-current owner to the city, such as a lump sum payment or annuity, which would take effect should the property ever be transferred to an entity exempt from property taxes.
    4. Hiring of a locally sensitive architect. The most universal feedback specific to the 257 Thayer Street apartment building project as proposed has been the inadequacy of its design. The building should be one that will make the city and Thayer Street proud for years to come. We request that this or any project for the area be designed by an architect who has demonstrated design sensitivity to the local contexts.
    5. Review and approval of design by PHDC or other appropriate design review board. We request that the design of any approved high-density project be subject to approval by PHDC or a City Council appointed board of local experts who can ensure the structure will fit with local architecture as well as exhibit excellence in design in its own right.
    6. Issuance of a completion bond. Any project that involves demolition of multiple historic residences should be guaranteed with a completion bond so the city does not risk a change in economic factors leaving behind an incomplete project that would be a blight on the neighborhood.
    7. Proper abatement of hazardous materials and low-impact demolition. Historic properties in various states of disrepair should be expected to have layers of lead paint and possibly asbestos and other hazards. These properties lie directly adjacent to Wheeler School and measures need to be taken to protect the school from health hazards and potential cleanup costs. Children are present on and in the areas surrounding the Wheeler property throughout the summer as well as during the school year.
    8. Preservation should not be dismissed. The city has been recognized nationally for making preservation a priority and should not dismiss it completely in favor of economic factors, nor should it dismiss economic development for preservation at any cost. We ask that if the comprehensive plan is modified to support higher density development in these areas, that any potential projects for these properties should be weighed against each other in part by considering their ability to preserve and restore as many historic properties as possible. Currently the proposed 257 Thayer Street apartment does not offer any preservation benefits at all.
  64. Frank Mullin April 19, 2012 at 3:24 pm #

    Good call(s) CHNA Board of Directors, I find myself agreeing with ALL of these eight recommendation points.

  65. Jef Nickerson April 23, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Providence Preservation Society Letter to Gilbane [.pdf] regarding 257 Thayer Street proposal. Via ProJo.

  66. Jef Nickerson May 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    Two Three articles about this project and Thayer Street in general:

    East Side Monthly: The Gilbane Project Moves Forward
    ProJo: David Bussat: Stop institutional creep on College Hill
    East Side Monthly: Thayer Street Past, Present and Future

  67. Sam May 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    It’s been years since I’ve read anything by Brussat, but he still gives me an incredible headache. Thanks for that, Jef!

  68. Jef Nickerson May 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Yes, I agree, I couldn’t actually finish it.

  69. Jef Nickerson June 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    Union Studio Architects has updated the proposed 257 Thayer Street Building.

    PBN: Thayer Street apartment project redesigned

  70. jencoleslaw June 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I still don’t like it. It still looks like something built at VCU or UMD-College Park.

  71. Bret Ancowitz June 25, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Per the PBN article:
    “‘Exponentially better,’ said Preservation Society Executive Director James Hall.”

    Per me:
    Really? It’s very hard to tell from this render, but I like the idea of this even less. Isn’t this just the same project as before, but much faker? With fake rooflines, fake facade groupings, and fake scaling. Before, it was a Washington DC building faking being in Providence. Is it now a faker fake for, umm, faking’s sake?

  72. Bill June 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Still ugly and unbelievably out of place. The city’s planning folks will love it that much more. Last time I looked, the streets were a lot narrower than the drawing suggests. Hope the renters see the actual building before signing up. If I were a rich student, this is the last place I would want to live.

  73. ada monitor June 26, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    in the drawing, are the cars driving the wrong way on Thayer?

  74. Peter Brassard June 26, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    This new sketch is an undeveloped concept. The perspective is taken from 40-feet above the sidewalk, which emphasizes the street surface shifting the focus away from the building bulk.

    The building was simplified. A molding detail was added at the top of the third floor. There’s no suggestion of materials. This could be fine or horrible, but there’s not enough information to fairly judge.

    Renderings or sketches generally present the most favorable view for a project. A more revealing perspective might be seeing the view looking diagonally across the intersection at the northwest corner of Meeting Street from 5 1/2-feet above the sidewalk or conversely from the northwest corner of Olive Street.

  75. Jef Nickerson November 19, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    A petition has been started by people opposed to this project.

  76. Jef Nickerson February 27, 2013 at 11:50 am #

    ProJo reports that the City Plan Commission has approved this project and that the developer, Gilbane expects work to begin this year.

  77. Towne Street February 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Woosh!!! That’s the sound of Providence Tomorrow being flushed down the toilet.

  78. Liam February 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

    What a fiasco. Who’s betting on a parking lot?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Apartment Building For Thayer Street? | Providence Daily Dose - March 20, 2012

    […] over to Greater City: Providence and join a discussion of Gilbane’s proposed apartment building facing on Thayer Street […]

  2. Updated: City Plan Commission Meeting, April 24 — Greater City: Providence - April 15, 2012

    […] Case No. 12-011 MA – 257 Thayer Street (Master Plan Approval) The applicant is seeking master plan approval to construct a four story […]

  3. PPS & CHNA to hold public meeting on 257 Thayer Street, July 16 | Greater City Providence - July 10, 2012

    […] April, following a public meeting to discuss the 257 Thayer Street proposal, Councilman Sam Zurier asked the College Hill Neighborhood Association and PPS to form a Steering […]

  4. City Plan Commission Meeting – December 18, 2012 | Greater City Providence - December 13, 2012

    […] also: UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street and PPS & CHNA to hold public meeting on 257 Thayer Street, July […]

  5. City Plan Commission Meeting – January 15, 2013 | Greater City Providence - January 11, 2013

    […] See also: UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street […]

  6. Cluck and 257 Thayer Street among items on Feb. 6, 2013 Zoning agenda | Greater City Providence - January 25, 2013

    […] there is a challenge to the CPC’s ruling on 257 Thayer Street, the proposed privately built dormitory […]

  7. City Plan Commission Meeting – February 26, 2013 | Greater City Providence - February 21, 2013

    […] See also: UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street […]

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