OneTen Westminster

The OneTen tower would have been the tallest building in Providence, and the tallest residential tower in New England at the time.

About this Property

#Proposal

A joint venture of Providence and Boston developers planned to build a $90-million luxury condominium tower on Westminster Street in the city’s business center. The 32-story tower — later 35 — would have been the first skyscraper built in the Financial District in 20 years, since the Fleet Center at 100 Westminster Street in 1984. And it would help usher in what appears to be a new era for the Financial District as a sector devoted to residential and retail uses as well as offices.

Featuring a glassy, modern design, the tower would have been connected to the nation’s oldest indoor shopping center, the Arcade (which dates to 1828), providing a new stream of customers for the lightly patronized commercial building.

Boston-based O’Marah is a partner in BlueChip Properties, which describes itself as an investor and developer of medium- to large-scale, mixed-use urban developments. It has investments in residential, retail and hotel projects. The Granoffs own Granoff Associates, a Providence holding company that owns and manages real-estate and operating businesses. They own 700,000 to 750,000 square feet of commercial and industrial property, including the Turks Head Building, the Union Trust Building on Dorrance Street, and the Heritage Building, an office building at 321 South Main St.

Lloyd Granoff, of Providence, is chairman of the Providence Public Buildings Authority. Evan Granoff, of Bristol, is chairman of the Downtown Providence District Management Authority. The authority is a new public agency that will oversee a special safety patrol and cleaning crew in Downcity and parts of the Financial and Jewelry districts.

With this rendering video, you can just taste the glossy, glassy 2005 goodness:

#Reception

The general reception was excitement. This was the first big new construction project of its kind in the early 00s when most of the development and construction happening was mill redevelopment and historic renovations. Nothing wrong with any of that, but a new modern glass skyscraper would start to directly compete with developments in Boston and Hartford. Just read some of the giddy comments in the Urban Planet thread{target=”_blank”}.

At one point, the tower was proposed to be over 500 feet — that was 35 floors with 6 levels of parking and a decorative spire. According to Jef Nickerson’s height list, that would have made it the tallest building in Providence (tallest architectural feature used as the measure):

  1. 520 ft. — proposed OneTen Westminster
  2. 428 ft. — Industrial Trust (“Superman”) Building (Note, by occupied floor, the Superman Building is shorter than the Hospital Trust Tower)
  3. 410 ft. — One Financial Plaza (“Hospital Trust Tower”)
  4. 358 ft. — Second Westin Tower
  5. 329 ft. — Westin Providence
  6. 311 ft. — Textron Tower
  7. 285 ft. — 50 Kennedy Plaza
  8. 235 ft. — WaterPlace Tower
  9. 223 ft. — The State House
  10. 220 ft. — The Biltmore

The City was clearly excited as well. Mayor Cicilline was all for it, as well as the zoning board and the Downcity Design Board of review which granted demolition permits of two former bank structures, one of them an 85 year old Georgian Revival building, whose Weybosset Street façade the developer was encouraged to save and integrate into their building design.

Jef Nickerson{target=”_blank”} summed it up well:

The Mayor was quoted as saying that OneTen would be a “first spark of a development boom.” And it was, in that time we’ve seen the development of GTECH, the Waterplace Condos, the Westin Residences, Capitol Cove, 333 Atwells Avenue, ALCO, RISD’s Chase Center and numerous other developments and renovations both large and small. We just never saw the development of OneTen Westminster.

Why, why, why… why does the City allow demolition so quickly when a developer comes forward with nothing more than promises? Why do they not demand to see signed financing paperwork? Why can’t demolition be contingent on an imminent ground-breaking? It is truly sad how many structures we have lost to Demolition by Proposal.

#Current Events

Nearly 15 years later, the “vaporscraper” never came to pass. At one point a hotel was going to occupy part of the structure — rumored to be a W Hotel. The tower grew in height, and then shrunk. In the end, the fact that it was all privately financed was probably the death knell.

The lot is still parking. The former buildings that were here have been lost to history. The façade of the Providence National Bank on Weybosset still stands, but seeing as it has been exposed to the elements as City property for much longer than intended, we would not be surprised if it eventually needs to be removed before it falls on local traffic.

So what happened?

We’re not entirely sure. Financing dried up we suppose, but this was at the height of local new construction and years before the economic crash of 2008. Likely, it was a mix of events that turned these plans to mist, much like the famed Power Block proposal of 2005.

#In the News

Developers lay out plans for 32-residential tower in downtown Providence

by Projo.com Staff
Providence Journal | February 24, 2005

Two developers joined Mayor David N. Cicilline this morning in announcing plans for a 32-story residential tower in the city’s financial district.

The $90 million project would include 130 new “city homes,” or luxury condominiums, at 110 Westminster St., a site formerly occupied by a Buck-A-Book store and next to the historic Arcade shopping mall.

When completed, the tower would be the tallest residential structure in Rhode Island, according to a press release handed out at this morning’s news conference.

Its luxury condominiums would range from 900 to 3,500 square feet and are expected to sell for $500,000 to $2.5 million. [A.I.R.: These prices translated to $555/sf to $717/sf! Manhattan prices…]

Granoff Associates of Providence and BlueChip Properties of Boston would develop the project, called “One Ten Westminster.”

The tower would abut the well-known Turk’s Head building on the east and be built on a site flanked by Weybosset Street, Westminster Street and the Arcade building, which links the two streets and will connect the new tower, according to the press release.

According to the developers, the project meets planning and zoning regulations. They say it would be built without any city or state subsidies.

The developers have not yet begun the permitting process, although they say they expect to break ground by the end of this year and complete the project by late 2007.