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Downtown Providence Living Tour – September 21, 2013

Downtown Providence Living Tour Showcases 9 Properties in the Heart of the City

Offering an Up Close and Exclusive Look at the City’s Newest Developments, including the Arcade Providence and Providence G

DLT-Postcard-Front_WebGet the inside view on downtown living! On Saturday, September 21st from 11 AM to 5 PM, The Providence Foundation and Downtown Providence Improvement District will host a Downtown Providence Living Tour showcasing downtown’s transformation into a desirable mixed-use district. Ranked by the real estate website Walk Score® as the most walkable neighborhood in the city and described as a “Walker’s Paradise,” downtown Providence offers residents access to restaurants, shops, cultural offerings, transportation options, and other amenities within a few blocks. The tour will feature nine properties in the downtown core, including The 903, Arcade Providence, Avalon at Center Place, The Promenade, Providence G, Regency Plaza, The Residences, Waterplace, and Westminster Lofts. The tour is self-guided, and people are encouraged to walk or bike from place to place, although shuttle service will also be provided.

Tour organizer Joelle Kanter, program manager for The Providence Foundation, says, “Whether people are considering a move into downtown Providence, or they simply want to preview city’s latest developments, we invite everyone to see how the neighborhood has noticeably evolved since our last tour in 2010.” In 2011 and 2012, 35 new retail businesses opened downtown, and this year, 10 have already opened. The quality and breadth of offerings are steadily improving, with new additions including popular eateries such as birch, Figidini, and UMelt.

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Arcade work!

ArcadeThe good news, it appears work is commencing at the Arcade. The bad news, said work is closing the sidewalk.

Of course this sidewalk closure comes just as we have hopes the sidewalk in front of the neighboring 35 Weybosset façade will finally be able to re-open. Though that project was stalled out for a bit, it seems there is renewed work happening on that site to building their parking lot (sigh) and move the façade bracing allowing the sidewalk to open.

Although it is of course great to finally see progress at the Arcade, it would be greaterer if the city had policies that accommodated pedestrians during such construction projects. You can bet your ass that auto traffic wouldn’t have been allowed to be restricted for the duration of this project. It would be simple to create a diversion for pedestrians (you know, like the guy with the backpack in the photo is doing all by himself).

Reader submitted photo of the Weybosset side of the Arcade last Friday.

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The Arcade: Cautious Optimism

Arcade

Rumors have been swirling about the Arcade since, well probably since 1828 when it was built, but certainly since 2008 when Granoff kicked out all the retailers and closed it.

I’ve heard all manner of stories about the place over recent years but haven’t written about any of them because I’m very much of the “I’ll believe it when I see it,” opinion. The rumors however are ramping up now with GoLocalProv reporting about it earlier this month and PBN reporting on it today, and a special event scheduled for Wednesday with the Mayor and Governor attending. So, the noise has risen to the point where I must write about it.

The plan according to information gathered by GoLocalProv and PBN is to re-open retail on the ground floor and convert the 2nd and 3rd floors to residential uses.

First. Was it necessary to kick out the retailers and close the joint for 4 years in order to build apartments on the upper floors? Sure, there are costs to having the building open, but there were rent paying tenants and those tenants had customers (myself among them). Whatever, I’m always first to admit that I’m not an economist, maybe closing down made the most sense for the owners. So, yay, they’re going to re-open it.

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Rumor: “The Hub” to the Arcade?

Arcade
Photo by Jef Nickerson

We don’t often deal in rumors around here, but this one is too good to let pass. A member of UrbanPlanet UrbanPlanet posted that they had heard that representatives from The Hub were coming to Providence to check out the Arcade as a possible location.

The Bay Area Hub describes itself as:

The Hub is a coworking space, event series, and professional toolset for changemakers!

During the day, The Hub is a dynamic, collision-rich workspace designed by its Members and the wisdom gleaned from Hub communities throughout the world. Social innovators in the Bay Area are leaving their sterile offices, noisy cafes, and isolated living rooms to work alongside diverse peers in a professionally hosted environment. They choose The Hub because it’s where they find the access, tools, community, and inspiration they need to transform their ideas into action.

At night, The Hub transforms into an event platform for member driven
collaborations, lectures, screenings, innovation labs, and some of the most compelling and imaginative minds from around the world.

I have contacted The Hub to seek comment on their Providence plans (if any), but have not heard back yet. If/when I do I will update this post.

Remember, this is simply a rumor at this point. Feel free to speculate, anyone with more information feel free to add it. But true or not, what do people think of this as a concept for re-use of the Arcade?

Update: 02/27


Photo submitted by Don Beohner

We’ve confirmed that representatives from The Hub are indeed in Providence this week and indeed looking at the Arcade. Thanks to our commenters for filling in some of the blanks. There are some issues to work out. Chiefly, The Hub does not require the entire space that the Arcade offers (the Arcade has about 20,000 extra square feet beyond the size of the largest existing Hubs). The Arcade owner has said they are seeking a single tenant for the building, The Hub will not be that single tenant, but it remains to be seen if The Hub leasing a portion of the building is enough to get the owners to re-open the ground floor to retail (which would be ideal in my opinion).

As pointed out in the comments by Dan, the EDC has been seeking this type of incubator space for entrepreneurs in Providence. If the EDC gets involved with this project, maybe there is something the EDC can do to help close the deal between what the Arcade’s owners are seeking, and the rent and space that The Hub can afford.

Seeing as The Hub is interested enough in Providence to make a visit; if a deal at the Arcade doesn’t work out, where would people like to see The Hub locate in the city?

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More Arcade Photos…

While there’s a good amount of news for me to post later, I thought that in the interim I would add to the avalanche of Arcade photos with two of my favorites from my own photography collection.

65965490oaivbqhaarcadecolumns

Photos by Bret Ancowitz

The news on WRNI this morning is that the 8 million dollar renovation is on hold now until a retail entity is found to occupy the building… This seems horrendously misleading to me. Wasn’t the whole reason to kick out the existing businesses seemingly overnight was that the renovations needed to be started, like, yesterday? Thinking about Jef’s post, could a possible angle here be that they want to be bought out by the city or a preservation group?

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