Greater City Providence

Proposed building at 169 Canal Street

Developer Charles Tapalian is presenting plans for a new 10-story residential building at 169 Canal Street at the Downtown Design Review Committee meeting on March 14th.

The 10-story building would contain 144 studio and one-bedroom apartments with ground floor retail. It appears to be targeting the student market. As far as I can tell, the plan is for no on-site parking with ample bike parking provided within the building.

This is an informational meeting only, the DRC will be offering opinions on the proposal, but no approvals will be given. The developer is presenting two options for the new building. The architect is Jo Ann Bentley Architects of Fall River.

Option 1


Elevation along Canal Street


Ground Floor Plan


Residential Floors Plan

Option 2


Elevation along Canal Street


Ground Floor Plan


Residential Floors Plan

[box type=”download”]Download the full package prepared for the DRC [/alert]

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.


  • Option 1 please!!

    (Hard to say without more detail, but Option 2 appears to be exactly like the chintzy hotel proposals PVD has been seeing lately.)

  • Excellent design. Glad to see it has a lot of retail units instead of large tenant. Hope they put in a WaterFire common viewing area… not sure why any design near the river wouldn’t include that.

  • +1 to what Sam said. That was my first thought, too.

    Those are nicely laid out studios, too. Putting the bed behind the kitchen in it’s own alcove is smart.

    Jef: Assuming these would be rentals and not condos, yeah?

  • I’m assuming these are targeted to students as rentals. I don’t think anyone would build micro-condos in this market.

    Speaking of micro, I think the retail spaces as laid out are way too small. Providence supports smaller retail footprints, but these are basically walk-in closed sized retail spaces. Not sure what would go there.

  • Great! 10 stories would be wonderful in this location. However, the 9-foot floor-to-floor levels that are being proposed here would not make for very pleasant spaces indoors.

  • As with the Arcade, I’m expecting these will fill up with a lot onf non-students as well.
    Like mist folks, I’m leaning towards option one, but I can’t say for sure without more detail on the materials.
    I agree with Jef, the retail CAN be too small.

  • A perspective or photo-realistic rendering would tell better story of how this project would fit into the city.

    Option 1 looks more like an office building. The vertical masonry elements at the corners and center portion of the Canal Street elevation that floats over the glass retail is a little odd, if they’re going for a histrionic design.

    Why are most architectural proposals in Providence so frequently fake old? It’s rare to see this kind of design in Boston or New York (or Jersey City, New Haven, or Hartford).

    Having said that, if they have their financing together, the project should be approved and the development group should start building.

  • Kind of hard to pick which one is better at this point but man it is nice to see some modest housing being proposed finally. Since they are targeting students I’m hoping for some reasonable rent here. We def need more affordable apartments being built up everywhere.

  • There is demand for “micro retail” spaces in Providence. The problem is that the old guard controls so much commercial/office space downtown that just sits empty and they refuse to break the space down to smaller divisible units. Offering someone 400-500 sq/ft, you are probably appealing to a “mini maker” — and Providence has alot of those. I’m hoping that at least some of these units become businesses and service providers that will help the downtown community easier to live in.

    This is a win for downtown. I’m happy with either design, but I prefer #1. It’d be great to see another 150-175? people living in this area of downtown.

  • Are the reasons for smaller retail spaces in the second design because they have allocated outdoor space to tenants?

    Am I reading those schematics correctly?

  • The retail partitions seem to line up with the apartments demising walls above. They might be making the retail spaces small in part for structural reasons.

    Providence is a tough market to build taller buildings, because rent/sale prices are not as high as they are in Boston or New York to justify construction costs.

    There’s a system by Infinity Structures in Georgia, which is high quality, but cheap to erect. With that system there are no columns or beams. The internal walls in conjunction with the concrete slabs of each floor work similarly to a house of cards, where the walls transfer the weight load of the building to the ground.

    Perhaps they are planning to use that system or something similar to make the building affordable.

  • Peter:
    I got the impression, looking at the elevations, that this might be something that arrives on a truck assembled somewhere else. Which I imagine would certainly reduce the costs.

  • Well, however they approach the method of construction, if they are capable of delivering a ten-story building that isn’t an eyesore, with nearly a hundred and fifty units, and fair rent, then put me down for ten of them, because downtown Providence needs these more immediately than most other kinds of development.
    If we want to avoid the pitfalls of many growing cities, an abundance of this kind of housing stock would be the trick, ensuring that artists and working class people can live in the neighborhoods that they work and play in.

  • I hope this “trend” of possible development in the city continues. Working in the Jewelry district, it’s refreshing to see cranes in the sky.

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