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eltron

IN PROGRESS: 333 Atwells Avenue (Rialto Furniture)

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Update on the Rialto Furniture proposal on Atwells Avenue:

This project is full steam ahead!

The project was presented to the City Plan Commission today, and was continued until the next meeting. I have to say I was pleasently surprised...the building is really quite awesome, miles and miles better than the other condo tower.

A very brief overview:

82 (!) units, 1-3 bedrooms

luxury, geared towards empty nesters

not clear if its condo or rental

two retail spaces on ground floor, no tenents yet, but might be restaurant space

3 level underground garage with 88 extra (not attached to units) spaces

The building covers the entire Rialto Furniture block from Atwells to Spruce at Sutton, (EXCEPT the little white vinyl sided building the currently houses The Diet Center). Parking is accessed exclusively from Spruce.

It is basically a courtyard configuration with two tower masses - 6 stories fronting Atwells, 8 stories fronting Spruce; the Atwells facade is also stepped back at the third floor level to create two tiers of nice balconies. All in all pretty nice.

There should be a Projo article soon, and if I'll come across any other details, I'll post them.

The architect is Lerner Ladd, who I think does pretty nice work.

Its obvious this developer (IF Alps and Cathedral Development) has done their homework and is ready for business!

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Sounds great. Thanks for the update!

Oh, is Rialto Furniture going away entirely? Their stuff is actually decent at a decent price. My coffee table is from there!

- Garris

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Oh, is Rialto Furniture going away entirely?  Their stuff is actually decent at a decent price.  My coffee table is from there!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The whole front of the store is plastered with Everything Must Go signs.

This proposal sounds very good. Sounds like a place I wouldn't mind living. I like Lerner Ladds too, they're local and they've done some pretty good stuff. I think they're very sensitive to the sensibilities of the locals, and from what is described, I'd say they nailed it here.

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Eyes on Atwells Proposed apartment complex raises concern

Some worry that the eight- and six-story towers would spoil the character of Federal Hill.

BY GREGORY SMITH Journal Staff Writer | February 18, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- Rialto Furniture and a couple of shops would be razed to make way for a luxury apartment complex whose proposed bulk and height have people talking on Federal Hill.

The ambitious $30-million-plus project at 333 Atwells Ave., with a costly three-level underground parking garage, would cater to empty-nesters who have a taste for large apartments, said developer Robert R. Gaudreau Sr.

While its scale is a concern for some people, members of the city Plan Commission praised the project when it was unveiled at a public informational meeting on Tuesday.

"I think it's wonderful," said commission member Harry Bilodeau.

"This is the kind of project that Providence really needs," although it is massive, commission chairman Steven Durkee told architect Christian Ladds. "From a design point of view, you're really to be complimented."

Eight- and six-story towers would shoot up from the site, significantly exceeding the 45-foot height limit for buildings in the area set by the city zoning code.

On the Atwells side, the six-story tower would be 77 feet tall, and at the rear, the eight-story tower would be 102 feet tall. The property slopes down a maximum 9 feet to the rear.

While Atwells has a mix of building and facade styles, modest and quaint wooden structures of 2 to 3 1/2 stories are typical of the busy boulevard.

The 82-unit apartment complex is the second massive project to appear on the public agenda for Atwells in the past five months. With public opinion polarized, the city Zoning Board of Review last September approved a 10-story luxury condominium building nearby, across the street from Holy Ghost Church.

Some people fear that the projects have begun a wave of real estate development in which tall, hefty structures would engulf Atwells and spoil its charm and historical character.

Among the anxious are members of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, who say that city government and the residents need to carefully consider how the commercial corridors in residential neighborhoods are redeveloped.

"I see Atwells Avenue as one of Providence's great, great streets," a street for which the city is widely known, said Kari Lang, executive director of the association. People are worried, she said, about the multistory buildings that have been proposed, as well as others waiting in the wings.

Lang said she is wary of the scale and the height of the apartment complex but admires what she called its "sensitive design" and spacious garage.

John Garrahy, Gaudreau's lawyer, said of his client, "He's been here a long time. He's not going to do anything to destroy the neighborhood. He's going to build it up."

In addition to needing approval by the Plan Commission of some of the project's aspects, Gaudreau would require the assent of the Zoning Board for a waiver of restrictions on the height and density, among others.

After seeing a presentation by the developer's representatives, the commission continued the meeting to an undetermined date at the request of Thomas E. Deller, city director of planning and development. Deller said he and his staff need time to discuss project refinements and the likely traffic burden that would result for Spruce Street and other streets.

Although height and density are issues, Atwells is a place where more density is acceptable, Deller said.

"We felt it was something that we could live with," Deller said of the scale that was presented. Gaudreau initially proposed 10- and 8-story towers, according to his spokeswoman, Rebecca Pazienza, but agreed to reduce them to eight stories and six stories after consulting with city officials and neighborhood "stakeholders."

Ladds showed the commission how he designed the building with varying proportions and included stepbacks and segments in the facade in an effort to relieve its massive feel. Its base, middle and top are distinguishable, he pointed out.

A public courtyard inside, visible from the sidewalk, would provide interaction that also would lighten the scale, he said. Pedestrians would be welcome to come inside to sit, and, if a restaurant is in business there, dine al fresco.

Commission member Samuel Limiadi still appeared unimpressed, saying that the building seems to loom too large for the area.

"The design of the building will maintain the integrity of the neighborhood," Gaudreau said in a statement, "combining old world architectural details with the eclectic style that is the Federal Hill landscape."

The apartment complex would be built with a brick veneer, precast stone accents and either zinc-colored copper or painted metal trim. Its features would include a fitness center and a swimming pool that would overlook the courtyard.

Its one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging in size from 925 square feet to 2,160 square feet, would rent for $1,800 to $3,000 or more.

Twenty-four units would be larger than 2,000 square feet, which Gaudreau said is a size that would give tenants an alternative to a condo. There are few apartments of that size available, he said.

Many of the units would have porches and balconies.

On the ground floor, the complex would have 30,000 square feet of retail space.

The 268-stall garage would allow enough space for the cars of residents and retail customers; 30 to 40 stalls would be for use by others in the area, which is pinched for parking.

The project is planned for a nearly 1-acre site generally bounded by Sutton Street, Atwells, the parking lot for Tony's Colonial Food, and Spruce Street.

Targeted for demolition are Rialto Furniture, at 321-327 Atwells, a one-story building with an attached cinder-block warehouse that stretches to Spruce Street, and Garbolino, at 333 Atwells, a women's clothing shop in a boxy three-story wooden building with an attached two-story brick building.

Also to go is a pitched-roof, 3 1/2-story tenement house at 144 Spruce St. that contains apartments and Spellbound, a hair and nail salon.

Gaudreau was unable to acquire one lot to square off his parcel, however, and the southwest corner would have a cutout. That cutout, at Sutton and Atwells, is occupied by a three-story wooden building with a storefront housing Diet Center Specialty Co.

The project site is owned by the Weinstein family, owners of Rialto Furniture, who are selling to the developers, I.F. Alps LLC and Cathedral Development Group. Robert Gaudreau Sr. owns I.F. Alps and is developing partner of Cathedral. His son, Robert Gaudreau Jr., owns Cathedral.

In plans filed with the city, Gaudreau said he hopes to begin construction this summer or fall. The work would take approximately 18 months.

Other nearby land was a subject of the commission meeting, too. Adrienne L. DiCicco, of 311 Atwells, the address of Tony's Colonial Food, wants to have the city abandon Trainor Street. Trainor is a substandard street that runs east from Acorn Street, parallel to Atwells and Spruce, and dead-ends at DePasquale Plaza.

Abandoning streets can be a precursor to large-scale redevelopment, as was the case with Gaudreau's project.

By persuading the city to let a street go to the abutting landowners, an owner or a speculator can stitch together the lots that were separated by the street and assemble a parcel big enough for a profitable redevelopment.

Trainor Street is used as a service alley and parking place for buildings that face Atwells and Spruce. In a letter to the City Council, DiCicco said she owns real estate at 150 Acorn and 279 Atwells and that she has talked to other business owners who also are interested in the abandonment.

"In its present condition, the alley is unsightly and underutilized by the businesses," DiCicco wrote. If landowners had the opportunity to buy their abutting portions of the street through the abandonment process, "the area could be used for commerce" and added to the municipal tax roll, she said.

If the city abandons Trainor, it would boost the value of the contiguous real estate, said Councilman Terrence M. Hassett, chairman of the council Public Works Committee, which screens abandonments.

Asked if the abandonment arises from a desire to create a site for a project, Hassett replied, "That's usually what motivates" it.

The council and the mayor will decide on the proposed abandonment. At the urging of the Department of Planning and Development, the commission voted Tuesday to recommend against the abandonment.

"I don't understand how the businesses that back up to this alley would function without it," if it ceased to be a public way, Durkee said.

In 2001 the council and the mayor abandoned part of Murphy Street, which was made part of the parcel for Gaudreau's project.

From The Providence Journal

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I'm dying to see this.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Me too, if anyone hears about any public meetings, let us know.

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Me too, if anyone hears about any public meetings, let us know.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Will do. It will definitely be on the agenda of the next City Plan Commission meeting in March, and then a Zoning Board meeting probably in April. The way the developers were talking made it seem like they were ready put shovels in the ground yesterday...

I contemplated lifting the presentation book with renderings they gave out to meeting participants at the last meeting, but too many people around...I'll make a more concerted effort next time :whistling:!

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I contemplated lifting the presentation book with renderings they gave out to meeting participants at the last meeting,.....

That's heartbreaking, next time bring me and I'll do it. I'm assuming you at least saw it, right? What did you think? Give details. Inquiring minds need to know.

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That's heartbreaking, next time bring me and I'll do it.  I'm assuming you at least saw it, right?  What did you think?  Give details.  Inquiring minds need to know.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Ha! I definitely shoulda taken it...next time.

Well, I have to say that I was very impressed. Its really obvious that the stink put up by many in the first go-around for Atwells development left an impression with this development team. I think they worked really hard with Tom Deller at Planning and Development to get it right, or close, on the first try.

The building is massive. No doubt about it. It is completely out of scale with the surrounding buildings. But I have to say that the design really tries hard, and largely succeeds, in tempering the bulk of the building to the street. The street edge consists of a solid plain at the base that then breaks off into three nicely proportioned masses that terminate with balconies at three stories, steps back again to four stories, then again to the full height of six stories. Moving back from Atwells to Spruce, there is a courtyard space, then a second tower that is eight stories. There were several renderings of the building in the Atwells context and the massing really seemed to work well. One image that was missing from the presentation was a view from down the Hill looking up from the promenade - from there I think the building might look really bizarre sticking out so high. I think thats probably alright, but I think it needs studying.

The materials are the ubiquitous brick veneer, but the windows are very nicely detailed, properly setback in their frames, nicely proportioned, and with interesting mullion configurations...so much better than the tower at Knight Street. There are also nicely detailed balcony railings and exposed steel work (probably zinc coated, or some sort of silver/gray enamel) that caps each of the masses. This really gives it a classy contemporary feel, while still somewhat contextual, which I like for a building like this.

One thing that came up at the meeting was that the building literally covers the entire site, so the development will be in violation of the city's tree canopy ordinance. I suggested that the developer be required to provide the necessary amount of trees offsite, like new street trees on Atwells, Sutton, and Vinton street, which would be a really cheap and easy give-back to the community. I got positive feedback from the Commission, so I really hope they implement at least that in the approval.

anyway, let me know if anyone has any specific questions and I'll try to answer them best I can...

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One thing that came up at the meeting was that the building literally covers the entire site, so the development will be in violation of the city's tree canopy ordinance. I suggested that the developer be required to provide the necessary amount of trees offsite, like new street trees on Atwells, Sutton, and Vinton street, which would be a really cheap and easy give-back to the community. I got positive feedback from the Commission, so I really hope they implement at least that in the approval.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I've read that Federal Hill is the least foliated (is that a term?) neighbourhood in the city, so any mitigation we could get in that respect would be welcome. I would hope that there would be a maintenance requirement as well, lord knows the city can't take that on.

Maybe the developers of the Knight Street tower will take note of the attention to detail paid here. I can't imagine them lopping off floors or creating multiple setbacks, but there could be some work they could put into their design to get the reception of it to be a little less hostile.

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Sounds great.  Thanks for the update!

Oh, is Rialto Furniture going away entirely?  Their stuff is actually decent at a decent price.  My coffee table is from there!

- Garris

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was there on Saturday. The saleswoman inside said that they are 50/50 on whether to close up shop or relocate... I hope they relocate, they do have some nice stuff there...

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On the mitigation front. Spruce Street really needs a lot of work, as much as Atwells is the heart of the neighbourhood, Spruce is important too, and will become moreso when we have all these residents over there. I'd like to see somesort of decorative wall built along Spruce Street where it looks over the Dean Street interchange. The sidewalks need work, and some planting and lighting is needed.

The Rialto project should be charged with organizing some improvements to Spruce (other property owners should certainly be encouraged to chip in) and the Knight Tower should take on Atwells.

A Business Improvement District for Federal Hill is a good thing to think about as well.

I was there on Saturday. The saleswoman inside said that they are 50/50 on whether to close up shop or relocate... I hope they relocate, they do have some nice stuff there...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I was waiting for the trolley this morning and looking down Atwells and I realized I'll miss Rialto's sign. It's a really neat iconic part of the streetscape, it would be nice if it could be saved somehow.

It would be good to see Rialto relocate somewhere as well. Maybe the ground floor retail space of the Knight Street tower. :thumbsup:

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Hey Eltron do you work for the City?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Nope, though I work pretty closely with them. I work for a non-profit Community Development Corporation in Elmwood/South Providence, mostly doing historic rehabs, some new construction, adaptive reuse, etc.

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I was there on Saturday. The saleswoman inside said that they are 50/50 on whether to close up shop or relocate... I hope they relocate, they do have some nice stuff there...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I really hope they relocate. They're really the only mainstream furniture place in town. If they close shop, that only leaves the Cardi's/Alperts duopoly in the 'burbs.

- Garris

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Commission OK's luxury apartments on Federal Hill

The 82-unit complex tops out at 102 feet and includes 26,000 square feet of retail space.

BY CATHLEEN F. CROWLEY Journal Staff Writer | March 16, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- The City Plan Commission approved the master plan for an 82-unit luxury apartment complex on Federal Hill last night, but reserved the right to alter the height of the buildings.

The luxury apartments at 333 Atwells Ave. would rise six stories, 77 feet, on the Atwells Avenue side, and eight stories, 102 feet, in the back on Spruce Street. Developer Robert R. Gaudreau Sr. needs a variance to build higher than the 45-feet limit in the neighborhood.

...

The lower floors of the building would extend to the edge of the sidewalk, but the upper floors would be set back. Several entrances along the Atwells Avenue side are recessed, and the storefronts planned for the first floor would have large front windows, giving the building a sense of "transparency" and allowing light to spill onto the street at night, said architect Christian Ladds.

"This is high quality architecture," said Stephen Durkee, commission chairman and an architect. "It does a great job addressing the street. . . . They made a lot of effort to respect the height of the neighboring architecture."

Durkee's main concern was traffic. A study is under way to determine how the project and other proposed construction in the area would affect traffic. The study will look at the surrounding streets including Atwells from Dean Street to Harris Avenue, Acorn, America, Sutton, Spruce and Knight, and the two Route 10 exits.

No neighbors attended the meeting to speak for or against the project.

...

The developer plans to market the 82 apartments to empty-nesters. There will be 26,000 square feet of retail space, and a 60-square-foot courtyard between the two buildings. A three-level underground parking garage will have 268 parking spaces, with 90 slots reserved for the public.

"Atwells Avenue is being strangled by parking, so those spaces would be a great public amenity," Durkee said.

The proposal must go before the Zoning Board of Review, but the Plan Commission has the last word on the height and density of the buildings.

The commission delayed a decision on building height because an urban planning project, called a design charrette, will be held in May to examine development and zoning in Federal Hill and the West End.

In other Plan Commission news:

Continue reading at: ProJo.com

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The commission delayed a decision on building height because an urban planning project, called a design charrette, will be held in May to examine development and zoning in Federal Hill and the West End.

Does anyone know anything more about this? It's something that I would certainly be interested in attending.

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Too bad about Rialto, thats a nice little 30/40's low slung cement structure. I'll have to add it to my RIP section soon.

On the other side, good for them... Fed Hill is a great neighborhood with charm and retail/restaurants already... dense living like towers are ecologically sound and may draw more people to walking, biking, or using public transit to get around instead of driving in a small, congested cityscape. Atwells is already hard up for parking and has major on-street double-parking issues, so maybe this will push people towards alternate transport. Or Vespas!

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Atwells is already hard up for parking and has major on-street double-parking issues

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually the PPD foot-patrol officers have been doing a good job of chasing off the double parkers.

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Does anyone know anything more about this? It's something that I would certainly be interested in attending.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I haven't heard the specifics yet, but I should pretty soon...I'll be sure to post the deets here when I get them.

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Residents can ask about apartment plan

A public meeting organized by City Council President John J. Lombardi focuses on the planned luxury apartment complex on Federal Hill.

BY CATHLEEN CROWLEY Journal Staff Writer | April 1, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- Federal Hill residents who want to know more about a proposed luxury apartment complex on Atwells Avenue can pose questions to the project designers next week.

City Council President John J. Lombardi, who represents the area, has organized two neighborhood meetings to discuss the 82-unit apartment complex.

"There are a lot of concerns about parking,' Lombardi said. "Is this going to hurt or does it assist?"

Traffic is another concern, Lombardi said.

Developer Robert R. Gaudreau Sr. plans to build a two-building complex that rises six stories, 77 feet, on the Atwells Avenue side and eight stories, 102 feet, in the back on Spruce Street.

The complex will have a three-level underground garage with 268 spaces; 90 slots will be set aside for the public.

The architects have tried to incorporate design elements that minimize the appearance of the large structure in a neighborhood of three-story buildings. The upper floors of the Atwells Avenue building will be set back and the entrances along the street will be recessed.

The City Plan Commission has approved the master plan for the project, though the height of the buildings could be adjusted. The Zoning Board of Review will consider the project in the next few weeks.

Lombardi said the architect from Lerner, Ladds & Bartels will attend the neighborhood meeting as will the developers from IF Alps LLC and Cathedral Development Group Inc.

The meetings will be held Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Holy Ghost Church Hall, 472 Atwells Ave., and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Hall, 12 Spruce St.

From The Providence Journal

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Rialto's shut. I haven't heard anything new lately about this project. Just took some pics before they start tearing things down.

2005-0530-Rialto001.jpg

2005-0530-Rialto002.jpg

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Rialto's shut. I haven't heard anything new lately about this project. Just took some pics before they start tearing things down.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Cotuit - you might want to change the title of this thread...this project is "luxury apartment" rental, not condos.

Another note:

"Atwells Ave and West Side" Charrette on Friday, June 17th 5-7pm, and Sat. June 18th, 8am-5pm at Rialto Furniture.

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Cotuit - you might want to change the title of this thread...this project is "luxury apartment" rental, not condos.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Done.

"Atwells Ave and West Side" Charrette on Friday, June 17th 5-7pm, and Sat. June 18th, 8am-5pm at Rialto Furniture.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

And thanks for the heads up! Who's running this charrette?

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