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PROPOSED: WBNA 1577 Westminster St. housing

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WBNA buys property for apartments, business space

The West Broadway Neighborhood Association will create affordable apartments and retail space on a vacant lot.

BY KAREN A. DAVIS Journal Staff Writer | February 9, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- The West Broadway Neighborhood Association, which has long been a leading voice for community improvement on the city's West Side, is taking on a new role this year.

The neighborhood association is developing a project that will convert a former used car lot at 1577 Westminster St. into a environmentally friendly and affordable housing and retail facility.

The project will include four two-bedroom apartments and two ground-floor retail spaces. It is being financed with help from the Neighborhood Funding Collaborative, the United Way of Rhode Island and the Neighborhood Opportunities Program.

"This is our first ever new construction project," said Kari N. Lang, executive director of the neighborhood association. "We're weird: We're a neighborhood association, but we're also a community development corporation. We take on both roles."

The neighborhood association has spent recent years lobbying successfully for improvements along Westminster Street, the main artery of the West Broadway neighborhood.

The organization took the lead in working with city planners to establish a West Side overlay zone that set restrictions for development along Westminster so that the commercial corridor would develop a more uniform look. The zone also aims to attract retailers and pedestrians as part of a plan to boost the neighborhood economy.

The neighborhood association has also been active in addressing rodent problems by securing household trash receptacles, pushing for a greater community police presence and calling for the state and city to develop concrete plans for saving the Cranston Street Armory.

Lang said the small lot has been vacant for about three years. It contains a cinderblock building with four auto mechanic work bays.

More than a year ago, WBNA joined with other West Side agencies and developers to draft a vision for revitalizing the neighborhood. That collaboration produced the West Side Action Plan, which called for organizations to work to reduce blighted and vacant auto-related properties in the neighborhood, among other things.

WBNA bought the property in July. Lang said it plans to raze the building and build a structure that will create affordable housing for low- to moderate-income residents and retail space that would be affordable to residents who want to open businesses in the area.

The project also calls for an environmentally friendly building that uses natural resources to help reduce utility costs.

WBNA recently held a design competition to solicit ideas and received three designs from architectural firms who worked for free.

Last week, WBNA announced that William Kite Architects Inc. had been selected to design the project.

Lang said the competition helped to educate residents about inventive concepts in affordable housing and green design.

A panel of WBNA members chose Kite; a majority of neighbors who attended WBNA's Jan. 11 meeting also voted for Kite after reviewing the designs.

WBNA officials expect the project to be completed in the summer of 2006.

From The Providence Journal

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Dusting this bad boy off...as demo of the existing garage on this site started yesterday...project is moving forward..

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No one's posted here in a long time, I feel like there may be updates in the "West End Neighborhood" forum, but regardless; the footings and foundations have bene poured, and framing has already begun for Urban Greens/1577 Westminster. Finally some vertical movement, it's good to see because the site was a hole for so long. Will try to post updates, photos when I get a chance...

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No one's posted here in a long time, I feel like there may be updates in the "West End Neighborhood" forum, but regardless; the footings and foundations have bene poured, and framing has already begun for Urban Greens/1577 Westminster. Finally some vertical movement, it's good to see because the site was a hole for so long. Will try to post updates, photos when I get a chance...

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