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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

383 West Fountain Street Renovations

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Way, way, way back in 2005 in the UrbanPlanet days, Armory Revival had plans for a new building at this site. As with many things in the middle of the last decade, that didn’t happen. Fast forward to today though and Armory Revival is doing a nice renovation of the block.

From their website:

This quirky collection of one and two story brick industrial buildings is quietly being transformed into one of the busiest places in the city by The Armory Revival Company. The 40,000 square foot former Waterman Stables and Combination Ladder Company buildings, featuring fabulous skylights, exposed ductwork, wood beams, private entrances and flexible, efficient floor plates are being developed for a variety of office and commercial uses. Modest rents, abundant on-site parking and immediate access to Interstate 95, Downcity and the Hospitals make this Westminster Crossing location a fantastic choice for your business. 383 West Fountain Street is now home to the most successful Planet Fitness in New England and Riverwood Mental Health Services.

There’s a floorplan on the site which is a little hard to read as displayed, but you can get an idea of the building.

It is nice to see some action happening in what I like to call the Near West Side.

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Providence to Create New Historic Landmarks District

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Broad Street Synagogue from the Providence Preservation Society’s 2014 Ten Most Endangered Properties list. Photo by Jesse Burke for PPS.

As part of the Re: Zoning process, the City of Providence has designated a new historic landmarks district. Also, the City will remove buildings which have been demolished form the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District; which begs the question, why is there and ICBD if buildings in it are getting demolished? From the City:


City of Providence to Create Historic Landmarks District to Preserve Properties

New designation protects historic properties outside boundaries of existing historic districts; residents should seek designation by August 11, 2014

Mayor Angel Taveras announced today the City of Providence will create a new Historic Landmarks District to strengthen its preservation efforts and as part of the city’s Zoning Ordinance revision.

“We are working creatively to preserve Providence’s historic architecture,” said Mayor Taveras. “The new Providence Landmarks District will protect individual properties that having historic significance but that are not within local historic districts.”

The Providence Landmarks District will be composed primarily of residential and ecclesiastical buildings, function like other City historic districts, and include design review and demolition protections. The owners of these historic sites, such as those that have been recognized by the Providence Preservation Society, can ask that their property be designated as a Providence Landmark and request their building be included in the new district. Property owners interested in having their building designated should contact the Department of Planning and Development before August 11, 2014.

In addition to creating the Landmarks District, the City is modifying two of its existing historic districts: the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District and the Jewelry Local Historic District. Changes include adding about 30 properties to the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District, removing properties that have been demolished, and removing overlapping jurisdiction with the Downtown Design Review Committee in Downtown.

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Broadway Cyclovía – July 27, 2014

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Broadway Cyclovía
Broadway from Dean St. to Courtland St.
Sunday, July 27, 2014 • 12noon – 4pm

Join Mayor Angel Taveras and the City of Providence on Sunday, July 27 for a car-free event that will open up Broadway for walking, skating, running, cycling and exercise. Free and open to the public! Featuring Zumba, bike activities, street vendors and more!

The event will take place on Broadway from Dean St. to Courtland St.

Local partners include the City of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office and Office of Sustainability, Walgreens, Zipcar, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

For more information visit ProvidenceRI.com.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
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→ PBN: I-195 commission hears two more pitches, ‘moving ahead’ on 2 others

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The Interstate 195 Redevelopment Commission Monday heard presentations from two developers with plans for the east side of the former highway land.

Royal Oaks LLC, a group led by Richard Baccari II, vice president of Providence-based Churchill & Banks, is pitching a project south of Wickenden Street, adjacent to existing Churchill & Banks properties in the Fox Point neighborhood.

After Royal Oaks, Carpionato Group of Johnston was slated to present its plan for the Connection at College Hill, an 850,000-square-foot apartment, retail, hotel and pharmaceutical research complex on nearly 6 acres and multiple parcels stretching across Wickenden.

The Carpionato Group proposal has been discussed before here.

Also see in the PBN article, the two developers who presented to the 195 Commission at the last meeting do not plan to construct any parking for their projects.

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→ ProJo: Providence City Council OKs tax treaty revision for Capitol Cove development

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ProJo reports that the City Council has approved a tax-stabilization agreement for the Capitol Cove building in Capital Center. The building will continue to house Johnson & Wales dormitories but the developer hopes to build a 169-unit apartment building next door.

The City Council gave initial approval Wednesday night to change in a tax treaty with the new owners of the Capitol Cove complex on Canal Street to let the building continue as a rented college dormitory, a move the developers said was needed to get financing for a new 169-unit apartment project they want to build on a vacant lot next door.

Added to the 134-units the owners of the Regency are planning and the real estate market appears to be showing signs of recovery in Providence.

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→ WJAR: New apartments coming soon behind Garden City

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“It’s our belief that there is a movement out away from the big suburban house. People want to live in the heart of something where they can be a part of the community and where they have all the amenities and access to all the great things that are happening at Garden City,” said Jordan Durham of D+P Real Estate.

First, I think it is sad that Garden City can be described as having a ‘behind’. Great urban spaces shouldn’t have a front or back, they should be seemless. It is telling I suppose that Providence Place is also often descibed as having a ‘behind’ or ‘back’.

Second, as I said on Twitter the other day, I might pay a lot of money to ensure that I never had to go to Garden City ever again (I really cannot stand it there), of course I’m sure there are more than a few people who would say the same about Providence, so to each his own I suppose.

All that said, it is encouraging to see people putting real money into apartment living in the suburban sections of our urban core. This won’t be car-free urbanist living to be sure, the article describes the development as featuring underground parking with elevator access, but it will give people the option of dipping their toes into the environment of living closely with neighbors, the option to at least consider walking to Garden City to buy groceries or have dinner… a simulacrum of urban living. It is a start.

For more information on the development visit liveatgardencity.com.

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→ ProJo: Route 195 panel seeks more park designs for former highway land in Providence

West Side Park Pavillion

Landscape architects and designers offered plenty of images to the Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission Monday night of what the public parks on the now-vacant former highway land might become, noting at times that they’ve made some changes over the last 8-1/2 months to reduce the cost to build the parks.

But as the commissioners viewed designs, they pushed back, saying they’d like to see other proposals before plans are finalized and questioned whether designers might develop other possibilities for a proposed pavilion. Commissioners debated whether designs should include public restrooms.

[Commissioner Mark T.] Ryan stressed it would be foolish to do more design work if the commission doesn’t like that design.

“I don’t like it,” commissioner John M. Kelly said.

“I think it’s beautiful,” commissioner Barbara A. Hunger said.

“I think the architect should come up with some options,” Ryan said.

What exactly are the 195 Commissioners’ (or RIDOT’s for that matter) qualifications for designing parks?

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2014 Providence Cyclovía series starts this weekend on Broad Street

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Photo from Mayor Taveras’ Facebook page

Providence will have 3 cyclovía events this year, the first takes place this Sunday on Broad Street in South Providence. Details from the City:


Cyclovía is a car-free event that opens the street for people of all ages to walk, skate, run, bicycle, exercise, and socialize. The event is sponsored by Mayor Taveras in collaboration with the City’s Healthy Communities Office and the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

“Cyclovía provides Providence residents with a safe and fun environment that promotes cycling, walking and community interaction – all elements of a healthy, balanced lifestyle,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Residents from across the city will have the opportunity to enjoy their neighborhoods and to experience the great things that Providence has to offer.”

Providence held its first-ever Cyclovía in September 2012 on Broad Street. In 2013, the City of Providence expanded Cyclovías to Valley Street in Olneyville and Hope Street on the East Side.

2014 Cyclovía Providence Series

  • Sunday, June 29 • 12-4pm
    Elmwood: Broad Street (Thurbers Ave. – Prairie Ave.)
  • Sunday, July 27 • 12-4pm
    Federal Hill: Broadway (Dean St. – Courtland St.)
  • Sunday, September 7 • 12-4pm
    East Side: Hope Street (Lippitt Park/9th Ave – Rochambeau Ave.)
Full disclosure: I am a member of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
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→ PBN: Garrahy parking garage seen as lure for development

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Image from Bing Maps

Contrary to conventional wisdom, things may be looking up for the future of Providence’s former Interstate 195 lands.

At least five organizations have confirmed making formal bids to build on the 19 developable acres freed by the removal of the highway.

One of them, a plan by Ocean State Angels and Cambridge Biolabs to build a life science accelerator at the corner of Richmond and Clifford Streets, is just the kind of “Knowledge District” concept envisioned by state leaders when they created the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission in 2012.

And perhaps even more favorable for commissioners, the General Assembly last week approved the construction of a $45 million, seven-level parking garage explicitly intended to boost interest in the land.

It would be enlightening to know what if anything those five bidders have said about parking. But since those discussions are held in closed door Executive Session meetings not open to the public, I guess we’ll never know.

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