Archives For Buildings
PPS’s Statement Regarding The Industrial Trust Building:
The Providence Preservation Society believes carefully considered redevelopment planning at the vacant Industrial Trust Building at 111 Westminster Street, Providence, is urgent and makes the following observations:
- The Industrial Trust Building possesses a high degree of civic and architectural value.
- The building is prominently located in downtown Providence, is an iconic visual statement in the Providence skyline, and its substantial bulk and idiosyncratic massing make it an important placeholder in the streetscape of one of the three main east/west thoroughfares in the City.
- Given the very large scale of the building, its vacancy is a material drain on the fragile economy of downtown Providence and, by extension, on the economic vitality of the entire State.
- The Industrial Trust Building is situated in Providence’s Financial District where recent private sector
development evidences the beginnings of an economic renaissance. A vacant 111 Westminster Street places this renaissance in jeopardy.
- For over 25 years, the Providence Preservation Society has participated in and sometimes initiated strategic conversations to facilitate challenging development projects in historic properties, particularly those large in scale. PPS has deep experience in this area of historic preservation planning and economic development and offers its assistance in moving the project to reality.
- We well understand that development projects in historic buildings in Providence, especially those of a large scale, have required a public /private partnership in order to make them financially feasible. These subsidies have come in many forms. PPS offers no specific advice at this time as to the exact nature of any particular public role in the financing for redevelopment of this very important building.
- Trustees believe that moving forward to create a vibrant, economically sound plan for the Industrial Trust Building is critical.
Continuing Engagement on The Future of The Industrial Trust Building:
The Providence Preservation Society is keenly interested in the future of 111 Westminster Street for the reasons outlined above. The organization intends to proceed with a high level of engagement in planning for the property’s re-use. It offers its expertise in preservation planning and development to the building owner and his development team, to the City of Providence, and to the State of Rhode Island and its agents. We look forward to tailoring the ways in which this engagement might take place to the particular circumstances of the property and its ownership. Our organization acknowledges that this may be the most critical development challenge currently facing any historic building in Providence, and one of the most important to resolve.
Mayor Taveras joined Omni Group CEO William L. DiStefano, Jr. and others this morning to announce that company’s purchase and plans to redevelop the C.J. Fox Complex on Federal Hill.
The Omni Group’s plan for the CJ Fox Complex. Going 2 be a great addition 2 Federal Hill! twitter.com/Angel_Taveras/…
— Angel Taveras (@Angel_Taveras) April 11, 2013
From the Mayor’s Office:
Mayor Taveras and The Omni Group Announce $1.6 Million Purchase of C.J. Fox Complex in Providence’s Historic Federal Hill
Anticipated $5 million renovation will transform vacant factory into upscale office space.
Mayor Angel Taveras joined The Omni Group President and CEO William L. DiStefano, Jr., and Dominic Shelzi, executive vice president of The Omni Group, Economic Development Director James S. Bennett and other city officials today to announce the developer’s $1.615 million purchase of the C.J. Fox Complex, at Two Fox Place in Providence.
The Omni Group will soon begin a $5 million renovation of the vacant manufacturing complex to transform it into upscale office space.
The C.J. Fox Complex includes 70,000 square feet in four buildings and accompanying parking lots, located on 2.17 acres of land in historic Federal Hill. The Complex was formerly owned by the C.J. Fox Company, which manufactured tags and boxes for the fashion jewelry industry.
“The Omni Group’s redevelopment of the C.J. Fox Complex shows confidence in our capital city and a recognition of the incredible opportunities that exist here,” said Mayor Taveras. “We look forward to The Omni Group’s work to transform the Complex into a vibrant new center of commerce in Providence.”
The Omni Group has restored a number of properties in the Federal Hill neighborhood, including nearly six acres of the West Exchange Center, with nine office buildings and several parking lots. The developer also owns several residential properties in the area. Last year, The Omni Group adopted Garibaldi Park on Atwells Avenue and improved it with landscaping as well as a bandstand area.
“We originally purchased West Exchange Center because we felt that this part of Federal Hill had a great deal of potential,” said William L. DiStefano, Jr., president and CEO of The Omni Group. “It is within walking distance to Downtown Providence and Atwells Avenue, there is an abundance of parking, and there is easy access to all major highways. The project has had continued success year after year, and that, along with our optimistic view of the City’s future, is why we have decided to expand once again.”
“When developers and site selectors travel through Providence and see the transformation of these properties, it will send a strong message that we mean business here in Providence and that there is great potential for growth and economic success in Rhode Island’s capital city,” said Mayor Taveras.
Of course you may recall that the Omni Group has proposed an office building with two levels of parking at 50 Cedar Street as well as a two-level parking structure along two blocks of Cedar Street. Neither of those projects have broke ground yet.
The Providence Journal: Future uncertain for empty icon
Bank of America confirmed Tuesday that it has moved the last of its employees out of the Art Deco skyscraper, which earned its nickname from its resemblance to The Daily Planet in the 1950s “Superman” TV series. The bank’s departure leaves a Jazz Age monument to Rhode Island’s industrial might, when it opened in 1928, as a virtual 26-story tombstone marking the state’s economic decline.
Tearing down the building for something more practical “is not an option,” said Fischer. Other alternatives “would not be good for the city,” he added, such as leaving it vacant or renovating it for offices, which would create a glut of office space and depress commercial rental rates.
Fischer called rental apartments “the highest and best use of the property,” bringing 500 more people to live downtown while creating at least a year and a half of construction work that would benefit the economy.
The building has 350,000 square feet, and High Rock hopes to build around 290 apartments of various sizes, Fischer said. The first floor, which now includes a grand lobby with high ceilings and marble columns, could be used as a restaurant or other commercial space, but the rest would be residential, he said. Among the issues High Rock is looking at is how to address parking since the building does not have it, Fischer said.
The use that I really don’t want to see happen, but we have to put everything on the table is, is it more efficient to take it down and put something else up? I think that would be a tragedy in the sense it’s part of our history.
A new building on the corner of Benefit and South Court Streets appears on the agenda for the Zoning Board of Review on April 3, 2013.
WALTER L. BRONHARD: 159 Benefit Street (corner South Court St.), also known as Lot 65 on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 10, located in a Residential R-2 Two-Family Zone and within the College Hill Historic Overlay District; to be relieved from Sections 204.3, 304, 416.2 and 704.2 in the proposed construction of a new two-family dwelling. The proposed use is permitted as of right within the R-2 district; the applicant seeks a dimensional variance for relief from regulations governing substandard size lots, minimum lot area, minimum lot area per dwelling unit, height, side yards, architectural features and paving limitations. Further, a special use permit is being sought pursuant to Section 419.2 in order to provide a home occupation in each dwelling unit. The lot in question contains approximately 4,896 square feet of land area.
This location, lot 65, is next to the building which houses Geoff’s on Benefit. The lot extends above the retaining wall to a second surface lot off of South Court Street. We have not seen any drawings or plans for the proposed structure, so we can’t speak to that, however it is good to potentially see the one of the last surface lots on upper Benefit Street gone. Although the request for relief from “paving limitations” is worrisome.
It is actually rather surprising with considering housing prices on the East Side that this parcel remained undeveloped for so long.
Does anyone else have any more information on this proposed building?