Ward Baking Company

also known as Victory Plating/Victory Finishing

A large parcel of land on the edge of the jewelry district whose 1- and 2-story buildings were razed by speculation but nothing yet occupies the site.

About this Property

#Reason for Demolition

A long story of proposals and failures haunts this site currently, and its future is very much uncertain. In 2011, JAG Investment Realty sought a demolition permit for the property after it acquired it through receivership. They proposed a research office campus for the site consisting of three structures of 6, 7, and 8 stories to be known as “Victory Square.”

Though the venture received tax stabilization, the development never moved forward. It was put back on the market in 2013.

For a short time in 2015, the property was considered to be the second potential location for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium. The first location was just up the street on the waterfront on what is now (in 2020) a public park. Plans for a new stadium never met with approval and the Paw Sox declared a move to Worcester instead.

#Current Events

Since 2012, only the Ward Baking Company Administration building is left standing on the corner of the site. The rest of the property has been remediated and leveled with blue stone and a small corner of asphalt. A few summers ago the property hosted a carnival, but that was the most action it had seen in some time.

2020

In the summer of 2020, Lifespan — current owner of the property since 2015 — started to seek an emergency demolition permit for the remaining Administration Building. It seems that they have done nothing to stabilize the building since 2015 and — surprise surprise — part of the roof has now collapsed. An attorney and a structural engineer hired by Lifespan have determined that if the building is a threat to public safety, then Lifespan is within its right to demolish the building without approval from the committee. The engineer recommends demolition, but the committee so far has requested a second opinion.

While the lawyer disagrees, the understanding is that the former owner gifted the standing building to Lifespan — it was not part of the purchase price — to explicitly encourage stabilization of the structure. The previous owner was only granted a demolition permit for the entire parcel if the Administration Building remained. Lifespan then proceeded to let it rot. Upcoming meetings of the Building Board of Review will address this issue further.

#History

In 2012, the Providence Preservation Society included the administration building on the Most Endangered Properties list. This followed a 2011 demolition that was allowed by the Providence Historic District Commission, with the stipulation that the developer preserve the Administration Building. The building was continually threatened by demolition, leading to PPS including it on the 2012 and 2014 MEP list. The property is now owned by Lifespan with no current plans for reuse or develop the site.

From the “Industrial Sites and Commercial Buildings Survey (ICBS)” by PPS and the AIA, 2001-2002, hosted by ProvPlan.org (now defunct) and the PPS Architectural Guide website

It is a large, one- and two-story, brick, flat-roof complex comprised of the original block and numerous ells constructed between 1908 and 1956. The building is bound by Eddy Street, Globe Street, and Manchester Street (now known as Marengo Street). The building’s primary entrance is set within the chamfered corner of a two-story block which stands at the intersection of Eddy and Marengo streets. The entrance is flanked by single-light sidelights and set below several bands of brick corbelling. This two-story block and the one-story block attached to its west elevation were both part of the original building and appear on the 1908 Sanborn map. The two-story, blonde brick block features projecting brick piers between each bay topped with stone trim. Fenestration is comprised of rectangular openings with a combination of glass block and boarded up windows.

A one-story, rectangular, flat-roof ell to the west along Marengo Street was constructed in 1917 and appears on the 1918 map. This block features rectangular, regularly-spaced window openings and a row of four vehicular entrances along its north (Marengo Street) elevation. This block is identified as a loading shed on Sanborn maps. Attached to its west end is another one-story block constructed in 1946. A one-story, square, flat-roof structure was added to the south end of the complex (Globe Street) between 1918 and 1926. This block is identified as Ward’s Bakery Garage.

According to a combination of both maps and business directories the Ward Baking Company building was constructed between 1901 and 1908. Between 1908 and 1918 small additions used for storage were made to the rear of the building. By 1926, an addition was made to the Eddy Street side of the building, adding an additional 6,432 square feet. Between 1937 and 1956 a large section for storage was added to the rear of the building.

The Ward Baking Company remained at this location through to around 1976. The building was then left vacant through 1980. Retailer’s Food Center Wholesale took over the site between 1985 and 1988. Tara Manufacturing Co. and Ideal Rack Co. were also housed there around 1988; they shared the space with Wholesale Foods. By 1993 the building was once again left vacant. A sign on the building identifies its occupant as Victory Finishing Technologies.

#In the News

Lifespan buys Victory Place property in Providence for $7.75 million

by Paul Grimaldi
Providence Journal | September 11, 2015 (abridged)
retrieved September 1, 2020 from https://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150911/NEWS/150919765

The Lifespan health-care group announced Friday that its Rhode Island Hospital affiliate has bought Victory Place, a strategically located chunk of vacant land in the Jewelry District.

The Victory Place property previously has been considered as the site of a nursing education center, a health-care research park and, most recently, a potential new home for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

The announcement did not indicate what plans the health-care group has for the 5.3-acre property just across Route 95 from the South Side hospital complex.

Rhode Island Hospital will pay $7.75 million for the property, which is structured in part as a gift, from landowner JAG Investment Realty.

JAG’s principal owner is Richard Gudoian Jr., the one-time owner of the Inskip auto dealership in Warwick.

[…]

The sale to the nonprofit hospital also calls into question whether the land will remain on the tax rolls. The city has struggled for years with the amount of property controlled by the city’s nonprofit institutions.

Lifespan spokeswoman Jane Bruno said health-care group executives “expect to be in discussion with the city about that.”

Lifespan officials for years have denied interest in expanding the institution’s holdings in Providence.

Dr. Timothy J. Babineau, Lifespan president and chief executive officer, said the institution has no plans for the property.

“While we have no immediate plans for the land, I assure you it will play an important role in our ongoing efforts to anchor the knowledge economy in Providence,” Babineau said.

Bruno declined to elaborate on why Lifespan would buy land she described as “strategically located” without any plans for it.

“It was a good opportunity for us,” Bruno said.