The Parkade. Photo by Jef Nickerson
I hate it when bloggers say this, and I do it all the time, but seriously, I really did hear about this the other day. Whatever though, PBN is first to the interwebs with it.
But PBN is behind a paywall, so here’s the scoop. Cornish Associates has purchased the Parkade Garage on Washington Street. Cornish of course has been responsible for much of the redevelopment on Westminster Street including the Peerless Lofts. Cornish plans to renovate the garage and keep it open for public parking as well as leasing spaces to some area businesses.
The garage is one of the properties that the Providence Journal’s parent company has been trying to sell in Providence.
There’s two things that could end up being quite interesting in relation to this property. First up is Cornish’s long term plans of putting retail in the ground floor along Washington Street (something that I dream about every time I walk by). Currently there is a small office/retail space at the Union Street corner of the garage. This was most recently occupied by Groundwork Providence, but has sat vacant for several years since the Journal ended Groundwork’s lease.
Most of the street level facade along Washington Street is well suited to fill in with usable retail space. There are no ramps in the way, the ceilings are high, it is on a busy street, and obviously, parking won’t be an issue.
The other potential development here is the Biltmore’s plan to move their driveway from Dorrance Street, to the ‘back’ of the building on Eddy Street, across from the garage.
Moving the Biltmore driveway off of Dorrance Street allows the city to potentially make Dorrance Street two-way in front of the Biltmore. So the full length of Dorrance would be two-way from Emmett Square to Dyer Street. The city is also looking at options for making Fountain and Sabin Streets and Exchange Terrace potentially two-way as part of the circulator plan (plans to make Weybosset and Empire two-way are firm).
In the photo above, you can see that the Biltmore currently has a giant dumpster on Eddy Street. That dumpster may be moved into the garage, allowing the street to be developed properly for the Biltmore driveway and to get cars into the garage. The Biltmore, as you can plainly see in the photo, is connected to the garage by a skybridge. I have not seen any plans from the Biltmore on this, but I imagine something like what the Hotel Providence has on Mathewson Street.
With future development in the base of the garage (and it should be reiterated, this is labeled currently as a “long-term plan” by Cornish), Washington Street suddenly gets a nice retail strip. Good news for the Biltmore in trying to rent out their forlorn retail space at the corner of Eddy and Washington. That space was the home to Garrison Confections years ago and a short lived flower shop. Without other retail destinations around, the Biltmore simply can’t get anything to stick there. With the driveway on that side of the building and more retail on Washington, that space will have a shot at success.
Aside from the Parkade, Washington Street is experiencing a bit of a quiet renaissance.
The Narrow Building is being renovated thanks in part to funds from The Providence Revolving Fund. AS220’s Mercantile Block is set to wrap up work shortly, with restored retail on the ground floor, artists lofts and studios above, AS220’s print shop, and the Fab Lab. Coastway Bank is planning to move into the old Washington Trust branch (though I haven’t heard much about that lately…).
Washington Street still has a ways to go. The massive parking lot along Mathewson Street (owned by ProJo) is a giant hole in the streetscape. Roger Williams Downcity campus is also doing the streetscape no favors. And the owners of the failed Hotel Sierra site will likely be asking for temporary parking once the work is done on the Mercantile (sigh).
I swear this was going to be a positive post, sorry to end on such a down note.