This came as a surprise to almost everyone... Plans for a downtown hotel by the Sierra Suites chain were confirmed in 2007. The first rounds of design were a stucco structure with no street set back, no pedestrian interface, and no respect paid to other downtown buildings. The first round looked like it belonged on Airport Road, not in the downtown. The Downcity Design Review Board pushed the developer and the architect through three or four rounds of design review before approving the application. Some might argue that they did not go far enough, but others can easily argue that the process worked, and Providence got a much better design (albeit at the cost of some historic architecture).
The Merchantile Block (ed– this should say 125 – 141 Washington Street) was demolished Jan to Feb 2008, and the businesses inside that we lost were Cuban Revolution (now on Aborn Street), Talk of the Town (now on Atwells Ave) and New Japan (closed). The MacDonald’s on Fountain Street also got razed for a Fountain Street exit for the hotel’s parking garage.
Still to be considered are these questions: will a Sierra Suites Extended Stay hotel be a good thing for Washington Street and AS220’s artist-centric Dreyfus Hotel redevelopment? Why two parking garage entrances right next to eachother? What will the Fountain Street streetscape look like with the back of a large, tall hotel right next to the Sportsman’s Inn? Will the Sportsman’s Inn finally be forced to move?
Cesare Apr 6 2009 It was a vary sad day when New Japan had its last night. It was either the first or second oldest Japanese restaurant in Rhode Island having almost been open for THIRTY YEARS!! I am twenty-five and had been going there literally before I was born. I am very good friends with Mr. Hiyama, one of the two original owners, and he has no intentions to opening a new restaurant. Why? Because it is so hard to find an affordable space, among other reasons. There is now a big hole in the culinary scene in the city of Providence. But I am sure it will be filled with the anticipated hotel that was the cause of the demolition.
Deke June 26 2008 The Mercantile Block building did not house Talk of The Town, Cuban Revolution, and New Japan. Those businesses were in the smaller building just next door – that building was demolished. As of this writing, the Mercantile Block building is not affected by the demolition and is still standing. The Mercantile Block building was made famous for being the home to The NewPaper/Phoenix for many years. The “Providence Renaissance” has displaced so many businesses that were there for the hard times of downtown. TOTT will be missed big time.
IdahoFan Mar 16, 2008 They should name it the Pepto-Dismal Building.
marcberm Notably omitted from the above is “Talk of the Town” – the small hole-in-the-wall bar that sits right next to Cuban Revolution. I will be sad to see it go. It was a friendly little place with a pool table and nothing more. Always a pleasure to drop in for a beer or two and a game of pool.
Kurt Agreed. This proposed building is bland-o-rama. The composite photo (of the Mercantile Block with Hotel on top), looks a little more interesting though and would at least provide a space for the Cuban Revolution and New Japan to stay at. I think that providing accomadations for established businesses is particularly important as most were there when times weren’t good. They provided the good food, entertainment, and services that helped back up the city’s “Providence Renaissance” campaign in the 90s when people were looking for more evidence of it beyond the hype of the new mall and relocated rivers, as good as they have been. What would be the motivator of an established business to stay or a new business to stay long term if there was always an easy threat of displacement? Why not just take up residence in Cranston, Warwick, Johnston, where that threat would not be easily realized?
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