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Providence Projects v1.0

41 posts in this topic

Updates to this thread:

03/08/2004 | Process begins for I-195 land redevelopment

03/08/2004 | Masonic Temple hotel plans get initial OK

03/03/2004 | RISDs | Chase Center

03/03/2004 | GTECH draws plan for building

01/30/2004 | Foundry to evolve into luxury apartments

Links to other Providence Development Threads:

04/06/2004 | Eagle Square

03/20/2004 | Masonic Temple Plans Move Forward

03/20/2004 | State plan to revive Dunkin Donuts Center

03/20/2004 | Orchestra buys Gibbs for expansion

03/04/2004 | Planners focus on vision for Downcity Providence

03/04/2004 | Brown's vision of the future

03/04/2004 | RISD | Chase Center

01/02/2004 | Heritage Harbor Museum

12/05/2003 | Developers showcase Downcity revitalization

11/13/2003 | Capital Center Apartment Plans

10/28/2003 | New Extended Stay Hotel

Providence Projects


Capital Centre

1. GTECH Approved Re-Designing


[*]GTECH will be located on the corner of Francis Street and Memorial Boulevard between the Providence Place Mall and Waterplace Park

[*]Corporate Headquarters for GTECH, a global information technology company whose core focus is lottery and betting systems.

[*]GTECH will bring 700 jobs to Providence.


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Question, is there a passenger rail system in Providence?

No :(

We used to have an extensive trolley system back in the day, but those are all gone now. We are on the Acela eastcoast Amtrak route, and have commuter rail service to Boston. There is a plan to extend commuter rail further into Rhode Island to the airport in Warwick.

The public transit bus system (RIPTA) covers most of the state and is a flat rate of $1.25 to anywhere.

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Wow. There a lot of really great projects going on there right now! :)

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WOW that is alot man looks like every city has something going on but mine :(

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Cotuit, let me join the WOW-crowd :) It seems that A LOT is happening DT Providence, which is great news not only for the city, but also for the entire state. When downtown projects succeed in one place, it is very likely that the momentum may open the eyes of every developer in the rest of the country. Not only big cities, like New York City and Chicago, deserve a chance for major developments, but smaller cities as well. Providence appears to have gained some serious momentum; when the confidence gets restored and the economy bounces back, I expect to see even more visions materializing. Keep us posted on the progress of these projects. Great thread... and VERY informative.

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Thanks for the amazing run down on Providence. I'm amazed at how many projects are going on there.

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I read today that Hotel Providence plans to be open by August 9th. Pawtucket software company Abaqus has signed a deal to lease space in 6 of Rising Sun Mills buildings, consolidating their workforce of 230 in the mill. Rising Sun plans to be open by August and Abaqus plans to be fully moved in by this fall.

One Downcity project I forgot ('til I walked by it tonight and went "what the hell is that?!") is the continuing renovations to the Providence Black Reperatory Theatre Company's new Westminster Street location. It's looking really nice.

Also Downcity on Weybosset Street is Rhode Island School of Design's (RISD) Design and Business Entrepreneurship Center.


An interesting article about this project can be found at the Brown Daily Herald.

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It seems that A LOT is happening DT Providence, which is great news not only for the city, but also for the entire state. When downtown projects succeed in one place, it is very likely that the momentum may open the eyes of every developer in the rest of the country.

Rhode Island is reported to be the most urban state. Providence is often called the city-state because without Providence, there basically would not be a Rhode Island. This list is only for projects in Providence, but the state's other cities are looking up as well. The City of East Providence just started work on a major development to completely rehabilitate its waterfront from it's current state of abandoned industrial brownfields to a string of mixed use urban neighbourhoods. Warwick has ambitious plans for a mixed-use transit village around a new Amtrak station at TF Green State Airport and a business park at Quonset Point (a former military base). Pawtucket has a thriving arts scene consisting of many artists that are unfortunately being priced out of Providence. There are also numerous mill renovations in Pawtucket and Woonsocket that are creating relatively affordable housing that is attracting people south of the border from Massachusetts. And Newport which is a tourist mecca is trying to reignite its position in the proffessional sailing world, hoping to land Switzerland's America's Cup race, bringing the race back to Newport.

Being so urban, the people of the state understand the importance of having healthy cities. We do have our share of NIMBYs, but most people just want to see that projects are done right. There is more clamboring to get stalled projects moving than there is to change viable proposals.

Like many cities and states, Providence and Rhode Island are about broke in this current economic climate. You'll see that some of the projects up there are waiting for money. It's a delicate balance, but hopefully the money will start flowing again soon to ensure that these all get done.

Providence is working hard to diversify its economy. Tourism is a huge part of the state's economy, and Providence has come a long way in attracting it's share of visitors. Providence's other key sectors right now are Information Technology, Bio-Medical Technology, and the arts. And Providence has been attracting a lot of attention from cities around the country and around the world (a mayor from Korea was here recently to see how we moved our rivers and created Waterplace Park). It's astounding how far the city has come in 20 years. It used to be a real pit. It still has a long way to go, but it has come amazingly far.

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Thanks for all the useful information, Cotuit. I passed outside Providence, many years ago, but never went back again to take a look at the city. Hopefully, I will find the time to explore more of NE states in the future. There are so many places I want to visit that it is overwhelming :( Be sure that Providence is DEFINITELY on my list.

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Downcity designer returning in spring

Architect Andres Duany will lead a design workshop to help improve the Downtown area.


Journal Staff Writer - January 15, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Architect Andres Duany, the apostle of New Urbanism and the patron saint of Downcity, will return to Providence to put some more flourishes on plans for Downcity, Mayor David N. Cicilline announced last night.

Duany will guide civic leaders in a weeklong charette, or design workshop, this spring to brainstorm improvements for the Westminster Street corridor and ways to better connect greater downtown to surrounding neighborhoods, the mayor told the annual meeting of the Providence Foundation.

Downcity is Providence's old Central Business District, which is being revived as a variegated neighborhood with residential, arts and entertainment, education and other uses.

Duany followed the mayor to the lectern in a meeting room at One Citizens Plaza overlooking downtown and pepped-up the audience with a lengthy recitation of Providence's development strengths, such as the integration of Providence Place mall with the street life around it.

"It is amazing how Providence is galloping forward," he said.

He also raised a few eyebrows by proposing the destruction of Cathedral Square, the main campus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, in order to reconnect the bisected stretches of Westminster Street in Downcity and Federal Hill.

To make Westminster Street whole again, the diocesan headquarters, known as the chancery, and Bishop McVinney Auditorium would have to be demolished.

When former Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr. floated that idea several years ago, diocesan officials did not reject it outright.

Cicilline said it would lay out the future for a redefined downtown that would encompass Downcity, the Jewelry District, the waterfront, India Point, the Old Harbor District, "Westminster Crossing," the Promenade District and Capital Center.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to prepare Cianci's New Cities program, which aimed to revive the harborfront east of Allens Avenue, which Cianci called Narragansett Landing; the area where Westminster Street crosses Route 95, dubbed Westminster Crossing; and Promenade, the mill district west of the mall.

Cicilline described downtown as one of Providence's 25 neighborhoods, each of which he said will have its own redevelopment strategy.

As Providence's "economic engine," downtown requires a more comprehensive approach, he said, so a consultant will be hired to do a downtown plan that would include an analysis of the city's economic base and lay out suggestions for how jobs can be created.

". . . We must deliberately link downtown development plans to neighborhood and citywide economic development plans . . . because you cannot have a vibrant city without strong neighborhoods that are connected to the downtown," he said.

The plan for the redefined downtown would incorporate the New Cities research as well as preexisting plans for the other geographic sections such as Capital Center, he said after the meeting.

Duany is known as a New Urbanist; he espouses development utilizing the architecture and street patterns of traditional village centers.

As an alternative to suburban sprawl, he promotes the idea that cities can be redeveloped to hold and rebuild their populations by using a village center concept that allows people to live, work and play in proximity.

He oversaw two Downcity charettes, in 1991 and 1994, that led to the creation of a vision for Downcity as a mixed-use neighborhood and galvanized work on it.

One of his priorities was the development of another crowd magnet -- he recommended a movie theater -- to enliven the area and to serve as an amenity for the Rhode Island Convention Center. The mall built a multiplex cinema, however, and Downcity never got the extra crowd generator Duany pushed for.

Duany drew several titters from his audience when he smilingly faulted a prominent corporate citizen, The Providence Journal Co. -- a member of the Providence Foundation -- for clinging to two employee parking lots that he said are much needed for redevelopment.

The parking lots are at Fountain and Union Streets and at Fountain and Mathewson Streets.

Duany said the latter is especially crucial to Downcity because its reuse would help to visually and psychologically link the Convention Center to the attractions of Downcity such as the Providence Performing Arts Center.

A "fire brigade [of civic leaders] will dedicate itself to uncorking that" site for redevelopment, Duany promised.

The Providence Foundation is a 111-member organization of businesses, institutions of higher learning, hospitals and other downtown interests that works for the city's betterment.

The foundation restated its goals last night, including the creation of a municipal parking authority to better coordinate Providence's on-street parking and to encourage the development of parking garages.

It also wants to create a Business Improvement District in Downcity, in which property owners and merchants would contribute money to, among other things, augment municipal services and formulate a joint marketing strategy.

From The Providence Journal

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Foundry to evolve into luxury apartments

The former Brown & Sharpe plant, which will feature 220 apartments, is the latest entrant in Providence's flourishing luxury market.


Journal Staff Writer - Friday, January 30, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Most of the unused space at The Foundry Corporate Office Center, a sprawl of 19th-century red-brick mill buildings that is a familiar sight to motorists on Route 95, is being rehabilitated for 220 luxury apartments.

The $50-million project at 255 Promenade St., announced yesterday but already under construction, continues the 16-year evolution of the complex from industrial to white-collar uses.

And it brings another entrant into the contest for tenants of high-end apartment space in Rhode Island's capital city. Its apartments would carry monthly rents ranging from $1,200 to $3,000.

Besides well-established apartment high-rises such as Regency Plaza and Avalon at CenterPlace, the Foundry project would have plenty of competition for the luxury market.

Other upscale projects are the brand new Jefferson at Providence Place, which The Foundry faces across the Woonasquatucket River; a smattering of converted commercial buildings being spiffed up and soon to be finished in Downcity; a hotel/apartment/condominium complex well along in its planning at Waterplace Park; and Capitol Cove, along the Moshassuck River at Canal Street, where construction is scheduled to begin this spring.

Counting the new and potential units, there would be a fresh inventory of about 1,250 luxury apartments.

"The market's holding up very well" for luxury apartments, said project partner Anthony J. Thomas Jr. "The East Side is full and the suburbs are full." The Regency and Avalon at CenterPlace both have occupancy rates hovering at about 95 percent, he said.

There is a nationwide phenomenon in which people of means are flocking back to city centers, and Providence is benefiting from that, he said after the announcement ceremony at The Foundry.

With the expected development of GTECH's new corporate headquarters in Capital Center, the expansion of Rhode Island Hospital, and growing faculties and student bodies at Johnson & Wales University and the Rhode Island School of Design, Thomas sees a continuing stream of people who can afford luxury apartments.

Another proven source of interest is the Boston area, he said, where residents find Providence's luxury prices reasonable. The Promenade at the Foundry, as the newly announced project will be named, would be an easy walk to the train station, so anyone can commute to a job in Boston, he pointed out.

"In Providence we think there is a pretty wide-scale market for this," he remarked.

Thomas and his brother-in-law, Thomas Guerra, are the principals of The Promenade at the Foundry, which is expected to be built by early next year at the latest.

Their project would offer a wide variety of custom studios and one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with soaring spaces, oversized arched windows, stainless-steel kitchens and exposed brick walls and concrete beams.

In addition to the amenities that are becoming commonplace in luxury apartment complexes such as high-speed Internet access in each apartment, media and party rooms, and business and fitness centers, there would be a 25-meter indoor swimming pool with a retractable glass roof 17 feet above the pool deck.

Many units would open to a large interior courtyard filled by a Japanese garden.

"This is going to be a pretty spectacular place," declared Simeon Bruner, the Cambridge, Mass., architect who drew it up.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries the complex was a spectacular industrial place, serving as the base of operations for Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co. Brown & Sharpe made measuring instruments and machine tools and was one of the nation's most successful companies of that era.

The Promenade at The Foundry will use three of Brown & Sharpe's buildings, the oldest of which dates to 1887.

In a gesture of respect to the buildings' industrial heyday, Thomas and Guerra had as their invited guests at the announcement Henry D. Sharpe Jr., former president of Brown & Sharpe, and his wife Peggy.

The project would highlight its history by displaying salvaged items in the common areas, including plaques, industrial equipment and a wire-cage elevator. Bruner said he intends to recycle big cement gang sinks from the mills' washrooms as water fountains.

With the completion of the apartment project there would be one last building still not rehabilitated in the complex, between Holden Street and Route 95. Thomas said it would be a good location for a hotel, given that it overlooks the superhighway, directly across from the north garage of Providence Place mall.

Municipal taxpayers are indirect participants in the apartment project, with the city having granted it a 10-year tax break. At the time of the approval in 2002, the city assessor estimated that the tax break would be worth at least $248,000 for its duration. With tax rates having gone up since then, the concession has grown in value.

Now the principals want to up the ante, by asking for an additional tax break to ease the $4-million cost of the 400-space detached parking garage to be built for the tenants.

Although The Promenade at the Foundry already is under construction, Thomas insisted that the project's feasibility would have to be reexamined if the city refused the tax break.

From The Providence Journal

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Why is Providence surging when Worcester, Springfield and Hartford are just chugging along? Is it geography- like being near the ocean or rt 128/495 and to some degree, Boston? The neighborhoods?

It is a state capitol so that gives it the industry of government like Boston and Hartford but not Worcester or Springfield. It has a smaller office market than Hartford but larger than the others....hmmm... it has a large port...

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Hartford is virtually abandoned by CT. Considering that, it's doing pretty well. There are a lot of projects there. Worcester is also seeing growth and new building especially in the biomed area.

Providence is a bigger city than worcester with better bones and better location on the ocean. It is close to Boston, inexpensive, and has better train and road connctions to boston than Worcester does. IMO Providence is part of the Boston metro and that is getteing clearer everyday. Providence is considered important to the RI legislature, that helps it do better than Hartford. Providence is on the Acela to NYC as well.

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Yes everything that tocoto said. Providence's biggest boost above Worcester, Springfield, and Hartford is probably the ocean. It's so easy to get to the beach from here. Being on the Northeast corridor of I-95 and Amtrak is also huge. Providence just passed Worcester to be the second largest city in New England in the last census. I think the margin is quite slim, but Providence's growth rate over the last decade outpaced Worcester's.

Versus Springfield and Worcester, it benefits as a little sister to Boston by being outside of Massachusetts. There's a perception (probably rightly) that a lot of Massachusetts urban resources are pumped into Boston. Providence isn't having it's funds taken by Boston.

Rhode Island is also often called the city-state. Rhode Island is Providence. The Assembly and the population in general realizes the health of Providence is vital to the health of the state.

Providence was also so impossibly poor mid-century that the curse of urban renewal largely passed it by. I've seen some grand schemes that were drawn up in the 50s and 60s that would have completely bulldozed most of downtown Providence to build a 'garden-city' type new city. :chilling: Providence never had any money to make any of these schemes reality, so they never happened.

The city also benefits from good publicity. It keeps showing up on top-tens. The river relocation was a giant tangible sign that the city was improving. The other cities talk about a lot, but Providence could actually point to what it was doing. The NBC TV show Providence was also HUGE for the city. Every week tens of thousands of Americans saw Providence photographed from the most flattering angles, in the best light on the best days, and populated by beautiful actors. Springfield, Worcester, and Hartford ain't never had that. In the late 90s the city also hosted the Gravity Games and the X-Games showcasing the city as a youthful, now, cutting-edge place.

The city is also home to an Ivy League college, whose importance cannot be discounted. It's mind-boggling the kinds of celebraties and major movers and shakers that come through here just because their kids are at Brown. And The Rhode Island School of Design is one of the world's most respected design schools. Having RISD adds to that feeling of youthfulness and vitality.

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Providence in my mind has always a mini Boston. Thats why I like it soo much. I always think of it as Providence is to Boston to the south as Manchester is to Boston to the North... I hope you understand what I was trying to say :huh:

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GTECH draws plan for building

The lottery giant, which agreed to stay in Rhode Island, plans to move into its Providence headquarters during the summer of 2006.


Journal Staff Writer - Thursday, January 29, 2004

Taking the next step in its move to the Capital Center in downtown Providence, GTECH Holdings Corp. has chosen a development team for its $65-million corporate headquarters.

After looking at eight candidates, the West Greenwich-based lottery giant chose USAA Real Estate Co., of Texas, and Commonwealth Ventures LLC, of Connecticut, to jointly develop the project, according to Robert Vincent, a spokesman for GTECH.

GTECH was struck by USAA's experience and its "vision" for the downtown parcel -- which sits at the corner of Francis Street and Memorial Boulevard and across the street from the Providence Place mall, said Vincent.

USAA Real Estate -- an arm of USAA, which provides insurance and financial services to members of the U.S. military -- manages $3 billion in real estate capital, according to its Web site, and specializes in building corporate offices. The company has built facilities for Federal Express, Southwestern Bell and IBM, according to its Web site.

"(We) wanted someone that can capture the idea of a world headquarters in downtown Providence," said Vincent. "We're hoping it will have the presence of a world headquarters. The building we have now (in West Greenwich) has a certain presence to it."

GTECH is moving downtown to fulfill its part of a 20-year lottery deal it signed with the state last year. In order to keep GTECH from moving its 900 employees to Massachusetts, Rhode Island offered the company a contract to run the state lottery for the next two decades -- an offer worth about $770 million. In return, GTECH agreed to move its corporate headquarters.

USAA Real Estate will provide 100 percent of the construction and development financing, according to Vincent. And Commonwealth Ventures, USAA Real Estate's regional development partner, will be responsible for managing and orchestrating design and construction in Rhode Island.

USAA Real Estate and Commonwealth will choose an architect to design the building and a construction firm. GTECH wants to build an 8- to 10-story building with 220,000 to 225,000 square feet of space plus on-site parking for 450 cars, said Vincent.

"They are going through the process of going forth and finding designs for our approval," he said.

As developer, USAA Real Estate will own the building and will lease it to GTECH. The land itself is owned by a third entity, Providence-based Capital Properties. GTECH is currently leasing the land, but plans to transfer that land lease to USAA Real Estate, said Vincent. GTECH plans to sign a 20-year building lease, but will include two 10-year extensions. The lease payments have not been determined, said Vincent, since it will be set up to cover the cost of construction.

This represents a significant shift in development for the property. In 2001, Starwood Wasserman, a Providence developer, had the development lease on the property. Starwood had chosen an architect to design a new building for the space, with the lead tenant scheduled to be law firm Edwards & Angell. The design had already been approved by the Capital Center Commission and its Design Review Committee, both of which must sign off on any development in the 77-acre Capital Center district ringing the State House.

But in 2002, Edwards & Angell backed out of the deal and Wasserman sold its lease to GTECH.

GTECH is planning to break ground on the building by this fall and move in during the summer of 2006. But before construction can start, the company must have its design approved by the Capital Center Commission and the Design Review Committee. That can take at least several months and require four to six meetings, said Deborah Melino-Wender, executive director of the Capital Center Commission.

The commission requires that the building be no taller than 10 stories, have retail space on the first floor and have access to Waterplace Park, she said.

"That intersection of Francis and Memorial is a gateway to the city -- we hope it's a building that is worthy of its location," said Melino-Wender, who said she's confident that the city will be able to work easily with GTECH on design approvals. "I think having a lead tenant like GTECH is certainly very exciting for the city -- particularly for that location."

From The Providence Journal

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RISDs | Chase Center


Rendering of Jos

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A rewrite for West Side's story

Residents sit down with urban planners to discuss possible makeover scenarios for the area, making it more enticing to pedestrians from Downcity.


Journal Staff Writer - Sunday, March 7, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- More than 50 people, mostly proud West Side residents, presented ideas for connecting their neighborhood to Providence's Downcity yesterday.

The problem is convincing pedestrians to brave the journey over Route 95, past parking lots, auto body shops and unwelcoming buildings. And then, there must be a reward when they arrive, said architect and urban planner Andres Duany.

Yesterday's workshop, the fourth in a series of a weeklong urban planning project, was the liveliest yet.

With a red laser pointer and an aerial map of the neighborhood projected on a wall, participants pitched ideas on where to put a supermarket, on which streets to encourage retail, and what to tear down -- namely Cathedral Plaza and the Bishop McVinney Auditorium.

The participants complained that businesses were not cooperating with the effort to make the West Side more inviting. For example, some new stores have built parking lots in front of their buildings, rather than building them in the rear to make the storefronts and sidewalks more appealing, they said.

"Maybe the Zoning Board needs a talking to," Duany said.

He offered to meet with the board and encourage it to promote pedestrian-friendly businesses rather than strip malls.

As for the bridges, Duany said he hasn't dismissed former Mayor Vincent A. Cianci Jr.'s idea of covering over the Route 95 corridor. Another possibility, he said, is lining the bridges with shops, Ponte Vecchio-style, to entice and entertain walkers as they cross. The concept is much cheaper than covering the highway.

"It masks the experience that you are going over a bridge, kind of like blinders," Duany said.

Still, it won't work if there's no reward waiting on the other side, he said.

Clark Schoettle, director of the Providence Preservation Society's Revolving Fund, said there's plenty of vitality on the west side of the Westminster Street bridge, but pointed to the Downcity side of the bridge as the problem.

"It's a dead zone," Schoettle said.

The group talked about lining the main streets on the West Side with clusters of businesses. Each resident pulled for his or her favorite thoroughfare: Washington, Westminster, Cranston, Broadway and Broad.

However, one participant raised a red flag.

"I have to laugh at the euphemisms that are being used to describe black neighborhoods here, unsafe . . . and unpleasant," said Ricardo Pitts-Wiley. "They are unsafe. I'm a realist. They are unpleasant, but they are a group of people that are going to be pushed out by everything that is being discussed here."

Pitts-Wiley, who is cofounder and artistic director of Mixed Magic Theatre, housed at the University of Rhode Island Downcity campus, pointed out that he was the only black person at the workshop.

"Look around the room and look who's here. Shame on the people who are not here, but look who's here," he said.

Developer Arnold B. "Buff" Chace, who spearheaded the effort to bring Duany to Providence for the charrette, assured Pitts-Wiley that planners are dedicated to the idea of mixed-income housing for the neighborhoods.

The series of workshops is building toward Duany's final presentation Thursday of a new design for Downcity and its surrounding neighborhoods. Today is the halfway point in the weeklong charrette. Duany and his designers will pin up their ideas today at their workshop at 56 Washington St., and they invite the public to visit and comment on the plans between 3 and 4:30 p.m.

Duany will give his final presentation Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the grand ballroom of the Providence Biltmore.

In the meantime, several more workshops will be held on a variety of topics at 56 Washington St.: traditional versus modern architectural design, today from 1 to 3 p.m.; arts and entertainment district and the convention center, tomorrow from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; the regulatory process for developing and design, tomorrow from 3 to 4:30 p.m.; an open workshop to discuss any topic, Tuesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m.; and the arts, Tuesday from 3 to 5 p.m.

The public is invited to the workshops and final presentation.

From The Providence Journal


Former Mayor Cianci's 1999 "Three Cities" plan called for a deck to be built over Route 95 between Broad Street and Atwells Avenue on the West Side of Downcity. Currently economic concerns have the city looking towards less grandiose ideas to solve the problem of bringing the pedestrian environment across the highway from Downcity.

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That freeway cap would've been awesome.

Parts of it still might happen. It wouldn't be that difficult since the highway is in a trench already.

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Masonic Temple hotel plans get initial OK

By Laura Ricketson - March 8, 2004


An artist's rendering of the proposed redevelopment of the Masonic Temple.

After 21 months of revisions, postponements, permitting, testing and planning, Denver-based hotel operator Sage Hospitality Resources has finally received preliminary approval to transform the unfinished Masonic Temple downtown into an upscale hotel.

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Process begins for I-195 land redevelopment

By Bridget Botelho - March 8, 2004


Contruction crews have dismantled parts of I-195 to make way for future developments.

When the shadow of interstate concrete disappears from Providence River

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