The bad news is the pocket park in that rendering, was artistic license.
Work to move the steel reinforcements from the façade at 35 Weybosset Street and reopen the sidewalk are expected to begin any day now and be completed in January of 2012. With the steel moved to the back, the city will be able to re-open the sidewalk to pedestrians and finish re-paving Weybosset Street through to Turks Head.
In addition to moving the steel, re-opening the sidewalk, and fixing the street, Pezzuco Construction will restore the masonry and weatherize the façade.
The work is being funded in part by the Providence Revolving Fund. The Fund is providing a $100,000 10-year loan. The loan will become a grant if the façade is incorporated into a new building. O’Connor Capital Partners, the owners of the façade and the 110 Westminster Street lot, which will become “interim surface parking” is providing $300,000.
O’Connor Partner Brian Fallon stated: “O’Connor is pleased to have the support of the preservation community and to be part of a solution that will bring back a pedestrian friendly environment surrounding the property. As a Providence resident I personally understand and appreciate the unique character of the historical buildings. Moving the bracing and restoring the masonry on the façade, along with the interim plan for surface parking, takes us one step closer to ultimate preservation of the site, while improving conditions for pedestrian and merchant access today.”
Clarke Schoettle, executive director of Providence Revolving Fund also noted some other work being funded in part by the fund in the area, according to a Press Release from the Mayor’s Office:
“At this time, the Revolving Fund is also financing the restoration of the old Custom House Tavern Building for offices and a restaurant and is assisting with the conversion of the old Providence Gas Building for residential and commercial use. With the combination of public and private investment, we are seeing the regeneration of Weybosset Street. It’s a great thing.”
Schoettle also mentioned the Fund’s contributions to the restoration of the former Ritz Camera on Orange Street into the newly opened Congress Tavern, and some momentum on getting the Arcade reused.
While the rendering with the pocket park was mostly a marketing piece by PPS and others to get the façade saved, there will be zoning’s minimum landscaping on the site, and a pedestrian pathway will be established between Weybosset and Westminster, a connection which has been severed since the closing of the Arcade. PPS also made a rendering of the site without the façade which is terrifying.
I will update this post with that image when I get a copy of it. Added below:
While the heavy lifting of getting the façade secured and the sidewalk re-open is complete, we can continue to work with O’Connor to make the best of a bad situation, namely, a surface lot in the heart of the Financial District. Temporary attractions on the surface lot and boosting the landscaping is small potatoes compared to the façade.
Providence Preservation Society Executive Director James Hall will be doing two walking tours this weekend focusing on the Financial District. The tours are Saturday and Sunday starting at 1:30pm at the Providence National Bank Façade. Please RSVP to Lauren Goldenberg, Development Coordinator at the PPS. 401-831-7440