The 903

also known as Jefferson at Providence Place

An early entry into the luxury apartment market built in 2003. By 2005 it was purchased and redeveloped as 330 condominiums.

About this Property

#Proposal

The 903 — formerly “Jefferson at Providence Place“ — was one of the first residential developments to happen in the City in the 2000s. The redevelopment of the Promenade District was bound to happen, but few thought that “luxury” apartments were going to succeed. It took an out-of-state developer to make it happen, but by 2005 Paolino Properties purchased the complex tp convert them to condominiums for $81 million.

The original developer, JPI Development, designed, permitted, and constructed the complex for $58-million. JPI sought variances for some fire code and safety issues but were denied the variances and an occupancy permit hung in the balance for awhile in 2003. One variance request involved nine firewalls that separated the complex into seven apartment buildings. Lt. George D. Calise, told the Rhode Island Building Code Standards Committee Review Board that the firewalls were improperly designed and constructed. These issues were resolved and the building opened to occupants later that year.

330 condos are arranged in three courtyards decreasing in size: one around an entrance driveway cul-de-sac, one around the in-ground pool, and one a small courtyard. Four stories, brick veneer, and stucco exterior with paired windows, some in a bay formation. The west elevation is attached to a parking garage.

#Design Reception

The 903 flew through design reviews as far as we could tell — it was almost 20 years ago, and the internet archives only offer so much of the Providence Journal. The land had been recently cleared of Merchant’s Cold Storage and the Silver Top Diner, so we are sure that City planners jumped at the chance to get it developed.

We’ll be honest — we don’t love it. Our opinion is only worth what you value it. The anecdotes here are mixed, just like all online reviews — some who have lived here love it and some don’t. Its not our job to critique the management of this place, and its barely our job to critique the architecture. For those who care about our opinion, we frankly have a hard time believing that this entire complex was built with very little steel structural support — its all wood framing. Apparently there are firewalls the split the large complex up into smaller units to prevent a large scale fire, but still. It boggles our minds.

The design is what we now see as typical, but at the time it was new to the area — a change in exterior finish and some changes in facade depth give the building its detail and design concept. Its large mass is broken up but these changes to its surface. Its ok, its fine. Its not our favorite but it works. Its low and bulky shape fits the industrial mill-building surroundings. Its mass shields the residents at the pool from the night racing on Harris Avenue and the traffic going to the Mall from off the highway.

#In the News

Providence Apartments To Become Condos

By converting existing units at Jefferson at Providence Place, developers jumpstart the availability of condominiums downtown.

by Cathleen Crowley
Providence Journal | October 10, 2005

The 330 apartments in the Jefferson at Providence Place complex will be converted into condominiums and become the first large-scale condominium development to open in the downtown area. Joseph R. Paolino Jr., a developer and former mayor of Providence, partnered with The Athena Group LLC, of New York City, to buy the sprawling four-story apartment complex on Kinsley Avenue behind the Providence Place mall. They paid $81 million.

The condo conversion leapfrogged the efforts of three downtown developments that are building condo high-rises from the ground up: Waterplace, a 193-unit complex in the Capital Center District; the Residences at the Westin, a second tower at the hotel that will include 103 condominiums; and One Ten Westminster, a 130-unit high-rise that has yet to begin construction. None will be complete until 2007 or later.

“The beauty of entering the market now is that people can have instant gratification,” said Barry S. Seidel, executive vice president of The Athena Group. “They can lock in interest rates while they are historically and terrifically attractive.”

The condo complex, which will be called “903,” will not compete head-to-head with the high-rise condos, Seidel and Paolino said. The converted units will sell for between $195,000 and $450,000. The other projects start in the $300,000s and go up to $2.5 million.

The apartment complex already has a swimming pool, fitness center, conference room, lounge area, 20-seat movie theater and a parking garage. The developers also plan to redecorate the lobby and hire a concierge.

Jefferson at Providence Place was built by JPI, a Texas-based company that spent $58 million to develop the complex. The apartments opened in 2003 and are 82 percent full. Paolino said the 50 vacant apartments will go on sale immediately, and the people living in the other units will have first rights to buy them, or leave when their leases expire.

Seidel and Paolino believe there is an unmet demand for condos in Providence. This is Athena’s first project in Providence, but Seidel said it won’t be the last. “We hope to have a very long-term relationship with the city,” he said.

The new name for the condo complex, the 903, refers to the building’s 02903 zip code and indicates the developers’ confidence in the changing neighborhood. “The 02903, we think, is a neighborhood that is coming alive, strong and vibrant,” Paolino said.

Across the Woonasquatucket River from the development, more than 70 businesses and 1,900 workers occupy The Foundry. The mill complex also houses 202 apartments of the newly opened Promenade. The Promenade began accepting tenants three months ago and has signed leases on 102 units, said Josh Fenton, spokesman for the complex. The apartments range from $1,000 to $3,500 a month.

Paolino and The Athena Group inherited a 10-year tax break the city gave to JPI.

The city attempted to terminate the tax break, saying that it was not intended for condominiums, according to John C. Simmons, the city’s director of administration. A Superior Court judge ruled last month that the tax break was transferable as long as the property was used for residential purposes.

The city will receive $6.2 million in taxes over the 10-year period, a savings of $5 million to the property owners. There are seven years left on the tax treaty and the city is figuring out how the tax savings will be dispersed among the condo owners, Simmons said.