Old Colonial Bank


Developer tapped for Old Colony building

By Douglas Hadden | Pawtucket Times | 05/31/2007

The former Old Colony Bank building at 347 Main St. just west of Park Place, shuttered for more than a decade, will be redeveloped for an architect’s office and other uses following bid selection Tuesday by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency.

Platt Realty, of Providence, and city firm AI Design, headquartered for years at 50 Broad St. downtown, partnered in the proposal, which PRA picked over three competitors.The estimated $2.9 million, 18-month project will bring office and retail uses to the ground floor and design offices to the top two floors.

PRA as part of its request for proposals specified that bidders also incorporate environmentally friendly aspects to their projects. At a presentation May 1, Lawrence Platt, principal of Platt Realty, told PRA members the building could potentially host a roof garden, would use carpeting with low emissions of volatile organic compounds, and that the former bank's high ceilings and large windows already afforded much natural light for a passive solar effect.

Platt said appropriate uses for the first floor could include a fabrics design store and architect space but noted at the time that plans would not go forward “unless we get the parking completely resolved.” The building’s footprint affords just 14 parking spaces. Adding more spaces would likely require coming to an agreement with Louis Yip, who owns adjacent property.

Platt at the time of the presentation identified his financing partner as Eastern State Properties but said he may seek “more conventional financing” with permanent debt financing once construction is completed.

Assistant City Planner Barney Heath said Wednesday the chosen developers proposed to build out the second and third floors as design space for AI “and another design tenant that expressed a strong interest in relocating there.” Heath said the use for the first floor remained undefined and without a specific tenant as yet but retail would be a likely use. He said PRA members in making their decision apparently took into account that Platt/AI already had commitments to fill two-thirds of the building.

Other bidders included Yip’s Tai O/Unisource International, for commercial and retail uses on the first level and four apartments on each of the upper two floors in a 12-month, $1.6 million project; Burbank Construction, of Providence, for a restaurant and art gallery at street level and six condos on the upper two floors, in a $2.9 million project to take up to 20 months; and Pawtucket Citizens Development Corp., for commercial and office space including for the nonprofit affordable housing agency itself in a project to take 20 months at a cost of $3.2 million.

The chosen project is the PRA’s latest effort to redevelop the long vacant property, which Yip bought in the early 1990s to assure adequate parking when he brought the Registry of Motor Vehicles to nearby 286 Main St., and later sold to PRA to create parking for the condo redevelopment of the Parkin Yarn mill as Bayley Lofts.

About two years ago the PRA chose “Chef Walter” Potenza’s proposal to site a cooking school, café and other uses at the site, but Potenza later dropped out due to inability to secure construction financing. This time the project, which is within the newly approved downtown Historic District, may get a funding boost through eligibility for federal and historic tax credits the district has created.

P Babbidge This building is the M.J. Gallagher Building, built in 1921.

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