Greater City Providence

Old Narragansett Hotel Garage Christo’d

Narragansett Garage

Old Narragansett Hotel Garage on Dorrance Street

OK, so it is not a Christo creation, but it is cool.

This is work in relation to the project that is transforming 3 buildings on this block into residential units. In addition to the Narragansett Hotel Garage, the old Providence Gas Building, and the Teste Block are being renovated.

Recently, the partially bricked in windows have been unbricked, you can see this in the unwrapped side of the building, and the interior has been gutted. Peering in the other day before the wrap went up I saw one truly terrifying rusted beam, happily cars no longer park here.

It is nice to see some renovation work in progress Downcity.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • A friend of mine has been working on this project since last summer. I got a tour of the inside and there is a serious amount of space in there. He said that from what he knew about it, these living spaces are supposed to be more reasonably priced than most of the recent additions to the downtown housing stock. I have really high hopes for this project.

  • This sounds like a good project and I hope it succeeds but I do regret the loss of the Providence Gas Company presence downtown as National Grid (should really be called International Grid – or International Greed – as it is foreign owned) has apparently pulled their office work entirely out of the city. In the Provdence Gas Co days, not only was there customer service and a showroom where one could buy gas appliances, the company CEO Jim Dodge started Grow Smart RI to try to concentrate redevelopment in our core cities as an alternative to sprawl. Now there is not even an agent to pay utility bills in downtown Providence and nobody at National Grid cares about smart growth, a downside of losing local control. I complained uselessly to the PUC about this, but they pulled out of downtown Providence also.

  • Thanks Barry. There are still a few believers in Providence, AS220 being one of them. Maybe we should be asking why their commitment is so firm, and what is preventing others from feeling a similar sentiment.

  • I’m psyched about the idea behind this. It would be great to see some renderings of the overall plan as well as what the price range of the residences will be. I also wonder if the plan is to develop them into apartments or condos. My vote is for affordable apartment living.

    This actually connects to what Towne Street mentioned about AS220. As someone who worked at AS220 for years, I can say that what sets it apart is that the organization isn’t just about developing properties; everything is centered on building community. If you want downtown to flourish, we need to get people living downtown who are predisposed to be social, community builders. We need people who aren’t there just to experience what Providence already is but vision what it can be. People who want to be a part of it. In order for this to happen we need affordable, apartment living downtown. The rent for AS220’s residential units is around $500 or less.

  • There are plenty who want to live Downtown, who could certainly contribute to the neighborhood. Until recently Waterplace and the Westin were both full of renters. Besides its mission, AS220 is able to provide lower rents, because it’s a non-profit and it has other funding sources. Even though the Arcade apartments will be small, Granoff as a private developer is making a serious attempt to provide affordable units. Because of land, building acquisition, and construction costs, for the most part downtown rents will generally be higher than in other parts of the city. One way to equalize rents to include a diversity of incomes is to require a minimum percentage of affordable or below market-rate units for every new development that contains residential.

  • That’s a great idea, Peter. Are there current regulations regarding providing a minimum amount of affordable units? If so, how is “affordable” defined?

    I do think that the plan for the Arcade is a good one. However, I can’t imagine myself living in such a small space. I think it is ideal for people who travel into PVD on the regular for work or recent grads; however, I’d like something more long-term.

  • I don’t know if Providence has affordable regulations. In cities that have affordable regulations it can range from 10% to 20% of units. Usually there’s a scale, where the lowest rate could accommodate people on public assistance or the elderly to what’s often referred to as “work force housing,” that usually includes people making lower middle-class wages.

  • The Providence Revolving Fund email newsletter has a quick update on this project:

    The Revolving Fund made a $1,000,000 loan to Providence Capital, LLC, for the historic rehabilitation of three important buildings downtown: the former Providence Gas Company headquarters (1924), the Teste Block (1859-60), and the Narragansett Hotel Garage (1923). The Revolving Fund will also give a $15,000 grant to the project for the three storefront renovations.

    The development of these buildings – located at the prominent intersection of Dorrance and Weybosset Streets, will result in the creation of 52 residential units, 3 commercial spaces, and a 64-space parking garage. In addition to the loan and grant, the Revolving Fund is acting as historic tax credit consultant on the project, which will result in the project being eligible for Federal historic tax credits.

    Stairway inside the Teste Block

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