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IN PROGRESS: AS220 Mercantile Building

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From the Phoenix Not For Nothing Blog:

http://thephoenix.com/notfornothing/PermaL...19801c484f.aspx

AS220, the nonprofit arts bastion, doubled its downtown footprint with its Dreyfus Hotel project. If everything goes according to plan, AS220 will again double its presence when it pursues a project in the Washington Street property (once home to the Providence Phoenix) anchored by the former Cogens Printing operation.

Artistic director Bert Crenca says the new project, which is envisioned for a mix of residential and retail uses, is intended to help counter some of the gentrification and upscale development taking place in downtown Providence. It is hoped that individually owned quirky busineses will take up some of the retail space.

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this is great news. that building is one of the worst eye sores on washington street. this will really help washington street become a real destination downtown.

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Funny that this story, and the Murphy's Deli/Cosmopolitan mess debuted in the press on the same day.

Either way, this is absolutely fantastic, pure and simple. I can't wait to see what comes of it.

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Great news!

I had just noticed the asbestos abatement signs this morning and thought they were prepping it for demo. Given AS220's track record, I'm sure this project will bring this dead spot on Washington back to life.

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This is great news, especially considering what AS220 has been able to do with the Dreyfus project. They certailny have a balanced vision when it comes to helping the Washington neighborhood.

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boy, I hope they can fix the weird angles, crooked windows, and uneven sidewalks at that building...

JK hehe

sounds like great news to me!

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Great news!

I had just noticed the asbestos abatement signs this morning and thought they were prepping it for demo. Given AS220's track record, I'm sure this project will bring this dead spot on Washington back to life.

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boy, I hope they can fix the weird angles, crooked windows, and uneven sidewalks at that building...

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I, too, am really excited about this. AS220 is one of the finest organizations in the city, and I'm really happy to see them grow and expand into such prominent locations.

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the cogens building currently houses some of the most affordable artist studios in the city. Just heard from a friend of mine that he's getting evicted from his work space. He went to speak w/ the AS220 folks and they said "this is up to the current owners. not our problem." but it's pretty clear that cogens owners are emptying out the studio spaces in advance of as220's purchase.

if as220 is cannibalizing some of the remaining good work space in town and causing artists to lose their studios, they should seriously consider changing their mission statement.

hopefully they give the current artists good deals in their new spaces. otherwise, I can't possibly see how this project can claim to "counter gentrification" as it states on Ian's blog.

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cannibalizing? the building is in the center of downtown.......not to mention it's falling apart

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the cogens building currently houses some of the most affordable artist studios in the city. Just heard from a friend of mine that he's getting evicted from his work space. He went to speak w/ the AS220 folks and they said "this is up to the current owners. not our problem." but it's pretty clear that cogens owners are emptying out the studio spaces in advance of as220's purchase.

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cannibalizing? the building is in the center of downtown.......not to mention it's falling apart

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are you saying that "hackers" and computer geeks are not "artists" in a way? i think many of them would beg to differ. "the arts" as used in their mission statement can mean a lot of things. what they're doing is creating community space for people of different trades to use, like the community dark room.

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not to start a debate about this, but artists can find work elsewhere, but they choose to work on their art as their primary form of income. if a geek/hacker/programmer wants to work entirely on open source projects, it's hard to make money off that. and i don't think there's as much money for someone in that sense as you would think.

i would also venture to guess that this lab isn't just for geeks, but will have expensive software for those who need it, but can't afford it themselves.

however, as i am not involved in any way with this project, i can't say anything about this situation. the only thing i know is that AS220 has done a lot of good for the artists of this city and that the projects they have completed have been top notch.

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Artists in this town are facing harder and harder times as the amount of space available to them continues to dwindle. I'm talking about optimal use of scarce resources. If there were a surfeit of affordable studio spaces, gallery walls and performance venues, then sure -- AS220 could build a hacker space, fund technology start-ups, lease space to a four-star restaurant, who cares? Unfortunately, this isn't currently the case.

btw -- I'm not an artist, I am a professional geek. I don't want AS220 wasting their resources on people like me. I make a lot more money than my artist friends. I want to see AS220 continue to support artists, so they can continue to make art for me to buy.

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thanks for the info ducksauz! it sounds like this is going to be another win for the city.

any word on what the 2nd floor might be? from the sound of it, the first will be non-traditional retail, to be different than what the city already has to offer, but would the second also be retail or is this where the community type spaces (hacker space for instance) would go?

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I agree runawayjim. Thanks for the insight ducksauz. I am anticipating another excellent addition for the city, due to groups like AS220.

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Yes, thank you for your input ducksauz, and if you know anyone else at AS220 who would care to comment on the plans, please encourage them to do so, we're all obviously interested in the plans for this space.

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The Phoenix reports that AS220 plans to close on the purchase of the Mercantile Block in August, and begin renovations in December or January.

While Wheels bar and Clark the Locksmith (both of which currently occupy the near-vacant Mercantile) want to stay in the complex, AS220 hopes to get a market-rate tenant to inhabit the bottom floor, possibly an eatery or retail venture.

...

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The Phoenix reports that AS220 plans to close on the purchase of the Mercantile Block in August, and begin renovations in December or January.

I know Wheels sometimes has cookouts on the Martha Street side of the building. I'd love to see someone make formal use of one of Providence's alleys to prove the viability of such. RISD will have a loading dock slash plaza at the Chase Center, I'd like to see more of these urban forms in the cities, not everything needs to be one use only.

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