Greater City Providence

PBN: Elizabeth Mill in Warwick to be razed, redeveloped


Renderings from McGeorge Arcitecture Interiors.

The historic Elizabeth Mill will be razed and some of its architectural elements incorporated into a new building, under a plan that Warwick officials hope will serve as a development catalyst for the City Centre Warwick district.

The plan would create a four-story, 300,000-square-foot building with modern efficiencies, suitable for retail, office and residential space, according to Mayor Scott Avedisian. The mill’s cast iron stairs, doors and bricks will be incorporated into a new structure.

Michael Integlia & Company, an engineering and construction management firm, will market the conceptual plan.

You can see a skelton of white beams that create a ghost of the tower of the mill being demolished, which is sad and creepy.

Though our historic buildings are an extremely important part of what makes our region unique and special, I’m not afraid to admit that not all can always be saved. Could someone have tried harder to save this building? Maybe, but it seems that will not happen. Keeping some little remenants and building a literal skeleton to remember the building is just dumb though. If the building has to go, get rid of it and move on.

The City Centre Warwick Master Plan calls for development of a pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use development with multi-modal access opportunities, including T.F. Green Airport, Interstates 95 and 295, the MBTA commuter rail, rental car facilities, Amtrak and bus service.

More skybridges do not a pedestrian friendly environment make. Hopefully that gets value engineered out (along with the skeleton).

Also, though the rendering shows a cyclist decked out for some street-race, it also shows the same old 4-lane Jefferson Boulvard traffic sewer. I know the developer and the renderist are not responsible for redesigning the street, it simply highlights a short-coming of the City. Jefferson Boulevard is well suited for a road diet and installation of bike lanes.

Some less extreme cyclists, maybe on their way to work, in the second rendering.


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.


  • That looks like a cross between Providence Place Mall and the Westin Guinea Pig Crossing Bridge and the car rental garage at TF Green Airport.

  • It’s too bad about the old mill and I agree that they may not have tried that hard to save it and also that the pedestrian bridge should go. One consolation is that the new building will be built to the street line. The tower ghost is comic, if they think that anyone will make that association. This new area will probably become a “modern” neighborhood, which makes sense being adjacent to the airport.

  • I like the creepy ghost tower.

    Good point on the four lanes though. In the master plan, they acknowledge that four lanes in bad for residential areas (“Homes on Jefferson Boulevard endure four lanes of commercial and commuter traffic.”). There’s lots of talk about redoing the roads, but nothing of taking away a lane. In fact, the plan calls for widening the road to 64′. THere would be two bike lanes, then four travel lanes, PLUS a turn lane (bike lanes are ~5′, others are ~11′).

    >– Widen Jefferson Boulevard to provide left-turn lanes at the proposed signalized
    intersections and also provide 5-foot shoulders to accommodate bike lanes.
    Reconstruct the intersection with the InterLink facility to provide a wide, raised
    crosswalk, as this is envisioned as a primary pedestrian connection between the
    propose redevelopment to the west and the InterLink.

    So those renderings actually show a narrower road than what’s proposed. Although there would be a substantial crosswalk.

  • Yeah, that Ghost Tower looks like some dated remnant of bad ’80s or ’90s design. Example, Davol Sq. Providence. Agree with the rest of what Jef said.

  • I’ve said this many times but Warwick is trying to make a TOD district with car oriented streets ,a zoning ordnance favors cars over people, and infrequent transit by European standards (by American standards, RIPTA is quite good). They don’t understand that you need to make streets people friendly in order for A TOD district to be teeming with people (or they are really afraid of compromising the convenience of automobile drivers) . Also, why isn’t Rhode Island pressuring MBTA for more frequent Commuter rail service to T.F Green, As I’ve said, you can’t have a TOD district without frequent transit. It’s common sense. It’s encouraging to see development relating to city Centre Warwick but come on.

  • I agree with Peter.The skybridge must stay though.Why?Because when biting cold winds whip through Warwick you will be warmed like they do out in St. Paul.Rhode Island has no skybridge system.It’s a mid-western solution to cold winters.Being a man that enjoys sharp dressed women.I must salute The Twin Cities enabling the ladies to where pumps for four seasons.

  • Mill will be torn down and a surface parking lot will be in its place for 10 + years. Presented plans are an economic fantasy. Show me the money , tenants and demand.

  • claude – This is not the midwest and its not like pedestrians are walking blocks-upon-blocks of avenues and concrete hallways like in Chicago or even down in New York City where when the wind hits it hits like razors.

    This is literally a bridge from one side of the street to the other. Jef is right, in that the boulevard could use a road diet. Perhaps some trees and maybe even raised center median planter would make it more boulevard-esque while also reducing vehicular (and wind?) speeds. But for the city to go after, not the developer.

  • Person,

    You made my point, thank you – a study. No capital and no tenants. Let’s rip down a majestic late 19th century factory building and figure it out later. Warwick has no hope.

  • With the Interlink built, this site is really the key to the whole city center project. If the Elizabeth Mill must be razed, then so be it, BUT I really hope the city of Warwick clearly stipulated in advance that it should only be razed if something is to be built in its place, and within a a clear and reasonable timeframe.

    I’m in the minority, but I don’t dislike the ghost tower. Nor do I fail to note that the project add pictured here would be Billy to the street. The ped bridge is awkward, but perhaps no more awkward than the attempt to be a pedestrian crossing Jefferson Blvd. This is just a rendering, anyway. But I notice that if this project includes retail, it doesn’t appear to relate to the street. The (rather extensive) study undertaken to explore the viability of the city center concept calls for a corridor of street level retail, not excluding the train station, which could be back-built add it were to shoehorn a retail component at street level.

    One raised crosswalk, really Warwick? Is that the extent of your pedestrian amenities?

  • I also can’t stop myself from observing that the concept area jumps the tracks and includes a segment of Post Rd. Now wouldn’t you just love to see how the city intends to market THAT as ped-friendly?!

    Whole thing feels Frankensteinian to me.

  • If the developer and the City were excited and confident about their so – called redevelopment plan, do you think they would have announced it between Christmas and New Year’s ?

  • The problem here is that there is no certainty that anything will be built. Until there is an interest in occupancy, it will be a vacant lot.

  • I think RI will have a hard time competing with other regions with anywhereville design which is what this propsal seems to be. Other regions (south, west, even mdwest) just have more space to make this work.
    Agree with why not keep the ghost tower, at least a little different from the usual.
    Agree Jefferson Blvd need a road diet if there is to be any semblance of a pedestrian friendly area. Also needed is stipulations for any tax breaks that “free ” parking for tenants requires “free” transit passes or equivalent as an alternative to level the playing field so that the interlink/transit access is not wasted.
    While the MBTA is unlikely to want to increase service there, RIDOT is seriously considering a frequent state run in-state shuttle train. RIDOT Director Mike Lewis has been much interested in this, but who knows if he will even continue as Director (I hope so.) To make transit work, it would help to have some kind of combined bus/train ticket as users who want to get somewhere will usually care more about the timeliness than the mode. RIPTA used to produce a combines bus/train airport schedule, don’t think they still do. RIPTA, with lines 20 (continuation of Smith, #57) 14 and 1 has quite frequent airport service that trains will never match. Again to make it work, airport employees should have a level field between “free” parking and transit use, or else it will be (almost) all cars.
    Happy New Year all!

  • “While the MBTA is unlikely to want to increase service there, RIDOT is seriously considering a frequent state run in-state shuttle train. RIDOT Director Mike Lewis has been much interested in this”

    Can you point to anything along those lines? I’m just interested. I think it’s a great idea. RIDOT/RIPTA Could probably partner with P&W, since they’ve been showing an interest in passenger rail. Worcester-Woonsocket -Pawtucket-Providence-Warwick-Wickford-West Kingston-Westerly (The W’s and P’s) would be awesome. Only needs two train stations to be built.

    City Center is essential for rail in this state to work. If a success, I think it will give just the boost in demand for intra-state rail.

  • With regard to a possible rail shuttle between Provdence and Warwick (and Wickford Jct) the only documentation I know of is in the approved state Rail Plan (available on-line at RI Statewide Planning) section 6-14 which describes the concept and service goals. This includes helping the Warwick area redevelop. As far as I know, the only current source of funds for this project is RIDOT planning funds in the TIP.
    I suggest anyone interested in this, please tery to attend the next RIDOT-Environment Council “roundtable” anticipated in February as we can put it on the agenda for update/discussion.
    RIDOT is also considering MBTA provided weekend service on this line.

  • The problem with Skybridges is that they take people (pedestrians) off the road and make the road for cars only.

    That’s a “bad thing.”

  • Barry: Could you give us a link to Section 6-14 or the most current TIP report on State Planning’s website?

  • This is the “Warwick delusion”…lead by its Mayor.

    It is a rail shuttle between PVD Green Airport and Providence – not Warwick. Just as the MBTA is…getting people from Providence Airport to Providence downtown and beyond.

    It frankly has nothing to do with Warwick.

  • Warwick is hopeless, market a Route 2 cheap design and no one shows up. The Elizabeth Mill was the distinctive compelling aspect to the site.

    Warwick needs to start all over again and hire some pros.

  • I really don’t get Steve and Observer’s parochialism here. There’s plenty of valid criticism for the plans, but at least Warwick is *starting* to think about pedestrians and public transit. And unlike the new parking lots in providence, the capital is already there for what will replace Elizabeth mill. The developer recently built other offices in the area, and filled them to capacity within 2 years.

    Avidisian interview on RIPR:

    He says they’re in talks with RIPTA, RIDOT and MBTA on the shuttle idea.

  • I hope my comments were not parochialism…just the opposite.

    My point is that the airport and Interlink are designed to serve Providence and its metro area…not the single suburb of Warwick.

    Any shuttle service already exists using the MBTA (although it would best be served by an RPTA train. One thing is for certain, people will use it to get to PVD…it has nothing to do with Warwick.


  • One has to wonder if a portion of $1,000,000 federal grant referenced in the Mayor’s Ri NPR interview was used to justify the pending destruction of the historic Elizabeth Mill ? The NPR interview and the vague answers by the Mayor raises s multitude of questions about the process or lack thereof.

  • The whole thing is of concern to me. Just like the TIGER grant wasted on a rotary in Warwick instead of a streetcar system in PVD.

    Any $1M federal rail grant should be focused on Providence…and getting people from the airport to downtown.

  • The Mayor has some explaining to do this week with people coming back from their vacations. If things were on the up and up , this so – called redevelopment plan ( better description – a bad fantasy coupled with cultural destruction ) would not have been announced last week.

  • “… at least Warwick is *starting* to think about pedestrians and public transit.”

    And placemaking. We have a lot of criticism for Warwick here because of its many failings, but there needs to be more recognition that Warwick has the germinal idea that it needs to improve itself and is trying to start somewhere.

    Upping the ante is the fact that the state has already pumped a substantial amount of money into this area, and that expense should not just go to create an airport shuttle. In case no one has noticed, Rhode Island can use high-potential smart growth sites like this. As previously noted, what’s good for Providence is good for Warwick and vice versa.

    This site, along with the D’Ambra site across from it, are pivotal if private capital is ever going to get behind the City Center concept. We have two developers chomping at the bit to get things built, as long as they’re spending their own money, let them. Is it fair to be skeptical? Sure. Hard to imagine change on this scale and of this type, especially in a place like Warwick? Definitely. I hate to lose history as much as anybody, but this isn’t exactly the Slater Mill. And at least in my opinion, the potential for Warwick to create a distinctive

  • Damn smartphones … as I was saying. The potential for Warwick to create a distinctive urban destination far outweighs the loss of one of quasi historical building.

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