580 South Water Street

A low-rise, 5-story apartment building on the waterfront with a strange design adds livable space but no character to the waterfront

About this Property

Proposal

Richard Baccari II of Churchill & Banks, doing business as 40 Tockwotton LLC., started to apply for design review public hearings in 2018. But to be clear, his father Mr. Baccari has been trying to build something in this area for a long time. Richard Baccari the first was involved in the developments of many retail centers in the state as well as the Coro Center, 200 Dyer Street, and the T.F. Green Airport parking garage.

In 2015, Richard Baccari the first stepped down as president and CEO of Churchill & Banks Companies, which he built starting in the 1970s. He named his son, Richard Baccari II to succeed him. His most notable project to date had been the development of Kettle Point, a 407-unit residential project on the Providence River in East Providence.1

This development features 69 luxury rental units adjacent to the intestate 195 iWay bridge with views of said bridge as well as the Providence Harbor. Units range from 650 square foot 1 bed/1 bath to 1200+ square foot 2 bed/2 baths with balcony options.

Amazingly, six units are listed at whopping $4,000 plus monthly rents depending on the size and amenities.

The parking lot is interesting. There are 13 single car spots, with 7 of them arranged the long way against the building. Then there are 22 double-length spots, where tenants can fit two cars front to back (or one large truck). In this way, they are able to fit almost 60 spots into a rather small lot.

Design Reception

This quote from the architect’s website absolutely slays us — “The timeless facade finishes compliant the balanced industrial and historic waterfront neighborhood.”2 The “timeless facade finishes” are what exactly? The little bit of red brick? Or the gray panels? No, it must be the white panels… no? The black corrugated steel?

We think this building is a bit odd. The early rendering was bland, but the final form is just strange. Why the semi-mansard two-story roof section?3 Why is this building covered in four different types of material? While it has great views of the waterfront, what about the views from the waterfront of it? We now have to look at this hulk of a mass which tries to break itself down into smaller pieces with those changes in facing material but it is done without any real change in the buildings mass. There is no depth to most of it save for the one section that provides a shared rooftop deck on the third floor. It just strikes us as strange.


The Invasion of the Over-Scaled Buildings — Architecture Critic Will Morgan

by William Morgan GoLocal Providence | August 18, 2020 (excerpt)

[…] One of the worst cases of apartment house elephantiasis is being erected at the corner of South Water and Tockwotton Streets. Architect Eric Zuena (designer of the Angell Street hotel and the Homewood Suites downtown) has simply decorated a giant hunk of sellable space with some different surfaces and colors, plus Zuena’s signature Mansard roof.

But the real shortcoming of this urban disaster is it size. It is humongous, it dominates the waterfront, and it says nothing positive about Providence. Something that is this much of a hog of prime real estate needs to be better, much better.

To begin with, the skyline could be more distinctive, offering an identifiable silhouette that is more than just a horizontal line. The chintzy, lowest-common-denominator footprint could be broken up and offer more setbacks and terraces. Materials could be upgraded to make this more than just the usual developer’s trope.

An earlier scheme for this site envisioned by Kite Architects was also out of scale, but at least it was architecturally aspirational, more fitting of a purportedly visually literate city.

Why should we continue to encourage new buildings predicated on enriching development and real estate interests rather than for what they could contribute to the commonweal? These over-scaled intrusive buildings might force us to consider the kind of city we really want.

—Captured April 2, 2022 from https://www.golocalprov.com/business/the-invasion-of-the-over-scaled-buildingsarchitecture-critic-will-morgan

In the News

In the excerpt below, we see that the proposed building was at first going to be 44 luxury condos for sale — not the 69 for rent apartments the project became.

Providence Proposed building scaled down near N. Main Street Plan to cut height from seven to five stories after residents voice concerns

_by Christine Dunn Providence Journal | May 15, 2018 (excerpt)

[…] The committee on Monday night also held a pre-application review for a new five-story, mixed-use building at 580 South Water St., proposed by Richard Baccari II of Churchill & Banks, doing business as 40 Tockwotton LLC. Architect Eric Zuena said 44 luxury condos are planned at the building, in addition to ground-floor commercial space. The building would be located at the corner of South Main and Tockwotton streets in Fox Point, near Route 195.

Dunn, Christine. “Providence Proposed building scaled down near N. Main Street Plan to cut height from seven to five stories after residents voice concerns.” Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI News, 15 May 2018, p. A3. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/16BEB8719B9B0FF8. Accessed 2 Apr. 2022.

  1. “Baccari steps down as president and CEO of Churchill & Banks Companies, LLC — his son to take over,” New England Real Estate Journal, 05 March 2015, captured 02 April, 2022 from https://nerej.com/baccari-steps-down-as-president-and-ceo-of-churchill-banks-companies-llc-his-son-to-take-over 

  2. Captured April 2, 2022 from https://z-ds.com/project/south-water-development/ 

  3. Architect critic William Morgan says this is architect Eric Zuena’s “signature” style. Ewww.