Greater City Providence

Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – May 11, 2015

[alert type=”muted”]Downtown Design Review Committee
Monday, May 11, 2015 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903[/alert]

drc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes of March 9, 2015

New Business


1. DRC Application No. 13.13: 44 Hospital Street Proposal by 44 Hospital Street, LLC to demolish the existing structure located at 44 Hospital Street, and to construct a new six-story mixed-use building on the site. The applicant was granted a waiver for demolition of the existing building and conceptual approval of the new design at the July 8, 2013 DRC meeting. The applicant is returning to the DRC for final design review.


[alert type=”muted”]Agenda [/alert]

The Jewelry District Association posted some information and renderings (more at the link) last week. It is hard to judge from the line drawing what the building will look like exactly, but it appears to have a good mass and handsome proportions.

Unfortunately, this is set to replace an existing building, so no net gain in built lots.

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See also


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.


  • Because there is such a lack of empty land to build on in the Jewelry district? Is the building that will be torn down structurally deficient? I like new construction, but there should be a moratorium on destruction until all of the vacant lots are built out..

  • Not sure how you can prohibit a land owner from improving their property while allowing others to do so simply because their land is vacant.

  • Sorry, I wasn’t actually suggesting that as an enforceable policy. It would just be nice… Vacant lots are a blight.

  • The City actually does have some power over demolitions, you’re at least supposed to make an attempt to prove you’re ready to go with your new building. There was some talk before the recession of forcing people who propose demolitions to post bonds to ensure completion of new buildings.

    Problem is, with surface lots being the cash cows they are, if someone wants to build new, they need to knock down a building because the parking lot owners aren’t selling. Establish the right sticks and carrots and we can change that.

  • Believe it or else, there have been demolition requests which have been denied. Usually the owner then stops taking care of their building, maybe knock a hole in the roof so snow and rain gets in, leave the doors unlocked… Then it becomes a “public safety hazard” and the City orders it demolished and the owner gets a parking lot.

  • So…what does mixed-use mean for this project? The term used to mean something but has been bastardized to the point of meaninglessness.

  • Nikos, you bring up a great question. Mixed-use projects such as chapel view and south county commons are poor examples of mixed-use development. They attract little to no pedestrian life, mostly because the neighborhoods around them are not at all walkable, most people going to those 2 places would be going by car, plus, chapel view and south county commons are essentially subdivisions, which makes it worse for pedestrians. chapel view and south county commons are glorified strip malls at best. This proposal on 44 Hospital Street however, seems like it will be good, depending on the urban design aspects of this building. I’m grateful that this bulding is set to the sidewalk.

  • 80 percent of the lot is surface parking. It looks like the proposed 6-story building covers a lot more of the property than the existing (ugly, concrete block) 2-story building. This is totally a net gain.

  • Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Mark! I share your enthusiasm for the general urban design of the building. My concern is more that the building will turn out like the JWU garage which followed the zoning requirements for street front windows/retail space but then used those spaces exclusively as offices/a JWU commuter lounge. The Jewelry district is one of my favorite neighborhoods of Providence and I would love more spaces for retail, restaurants, and other spaces that genuinely engage pedestrians.

  • Despite the surrounding vacant and surface parking, this could be a catalyst for future area development.

    PS. Can we haz a roof deck/garden on this building?

  • Besides the renderings, has a site plan been made public?

  • Providence Business News: Closed Jewelry District nightclub to make way for apartments

    The new plan is for the building exterior to be clad in aluminum composite panels, according to architect Christopher Velleca, of Federal Hill Group LLC architects. The panels will have a brushed, satin finish, he said, and will not result in glare.

    Up to five retail spaces will be available at ground level, and can be built out to suit a tenant, while the upper floors would be one- and two-bedroom, as well as loft-style, apartments, Velleca said. They are not designed to be luxury apartments, but would be marketed to working professionals.

  • What the rendering in the PBN article shows is encouraging, as a minimal single row of accessory parking is shown to the left of the proposed building. The building appears to fill most of the lot and the facade fully engages the two streets including the corner. Looking at Google earth, the lot is not square, so there could be less parking behind the view shown. A site plan would clarify this. From what visuals are available and what is described this looks like a good design that’s well thought out. This building would be a great addition to the neighborhood.

  • I’ll reserve judgement on the aluminum panels until I see them, but this does seem like a good quality project. It’s nice to see that they’re going to be targeting the working professional market instead of another luxury building.

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