Brook Street Garage

also known as Bagel Gourmet, East Side Mini-Mart

Once a circa 1920s car garage, most recently this was a commercial block home to Bagel Gourmet and East Side Mini-Mart, two Brown-University-student staples

About this Property

#Reason for Demolition

Brown University made its intentions clear about the fate of these properties starting in June of 2020. By November 2020 it listed for sale the twin houses on Charlesfield Street — each for $10 if you also paid the cost to move them to a new location. There were no buyers, as moving the houses is expensive and finding the land to drop them onto is even more expensive. Brown itself has moved a house or two itself when the pressure to demolish a building was too great.

Proposals went back and forth in front of the Historic District Commission (HDC) as well as the Providence Preservation Society’s Planning & Architectural Review Committee (PAR). The Commission voted a few times to continue the application, allowing time for Brown to revise its plan. An update in April removed the project from the purview of the HDC by acquiring an adjacent property at 126 Power Street and removing the building footprint from the local historic district — a move which we do not entirely understand. Read the timeline of events on the Preservation Society’s website.

With that parliamentary move, Brown was free to proceed as they pleased with the design of the dorms and the demolition of three historically significant houses. Despite community pressure, they moved to evict well-liked businesses like Bagel Gourmet and further deplete Providence’s ever-shrinking tax base. Neighbors and groups including the Fox Point Neighborhood Association were none too pleased. Efforts have been made to find temporary space for Bagel Gourmet’s baking facility, but little was done to relocate other businesses.

#Current Events

The site of these former buildings will become two new Brown University dorm buildings, designed as “sisters”, one on either side of Brook Street. Visit the Brown Facilities page about the project.

#History

The Brook Street garage appears on the 1920 Sanborn map with a “T” shape to its site plan. The early building meets the street front on Brook Street. By 1956 the Brook street front of the building is cut back about fifteen feet. The blue line across the front indicates it was stone. After 1988 but before 1991, the back of the “T” (away from Brook Street) is demolished to make room for Brown University’s new student dorms (built in 1991). About half of the structure remained as original, but even that was heavily altered across the front façade.

It appears in the College Hill Historic District as “non-contributing”:

Commercial Block (by 1926): 1-story, brick, flat- and hip-roof building that includes a gas station/garage flanked by a laundry and a convenience store.

66-68 & 70-72 Charlesfield street, likely built between 1908 and 1920, are listed in the College Hill Historic District:

2 1/2-story, shingled frame, hip-roof double house, six bays deep with off-center entries under side porches on either flank. A hip roof that flares over the eaves, hip roof dormers and two-story bays are principal features of this eclectic Bungalow Queen Anne-influenced building.

245-247 Brook street is listed in the College Hill Historic District as being built in 1895, though we do not see this represented in 1889-1900 or 1908 cadastral maps:

2 1/2-story, clapboarded and shingled frame, end-gable-roof, two-family house, three bays wide, twin entries on the side. A portico with a center gable and Roman Doric columns and a 3-story bay with a gable roof with bracketed overhangs are principal features of this vernacular Queen Anne building.

#In the News

East Side Mini-Mart to close in “bittersweet” farewell as University makes room for new dorm

by Ashley Guo
Brown Daily Herald | September 14, 2021 (abridged)

The plaza at 250 Brook St. is a round-the-clock hub for the University community, with students grabbing late-night snacks from East Side Mini-Mart and easing into groggy weekend mornings with Bagel Gourmet’s hearty breakfast sandwiches.

But, after decades of business, East Side Mini-Mart and Bagel Gourmet will close by Sept. 30 to make room for the construction of new University housing on Brook Street. The plaza, which also includes the Providence Police Department District 9 substation, will be demolished in early October as construction contractors begin work on the development. […]

All tenants have been “long aware” of the project, as formal plans for the residence hall and the end of leases were conveyed in February 2020, according to University Spokesperson Brian Clark. […]

Dave Faria, the owner of East Side Mini-Mart across its 28-year history, recently put up a sign on his store window alerting shoppers to the Mini-Mart’s imminent closure in October. While this came as a shock to customers, Faria confirmed that the potential development was communicated to him often and early on by the University.

“When I first signed my lease, there was always potential for development, they told me, so there were no surprises,” Faria said. “Actually, I’m happily surprised that it lasted so long.”

Although there were plans to temporarily relocate the Mini-Mart during construction, those plans fell through. “It’s bittersweet,” said Faria, who has operated the store since 1992. “It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of responsibility, but I love it.”

Faria has formed relationships and rapport with his customers over his many years in College Hill. “I absolutely love my customers. I am going to miss them so much, and they’re going to miss the store so much,” Faria said. “A lot of these people … depend on us because a lot of them live nearby and it saves them from walking to Thayer Street at night.”

While the Mini-Mart will be closed during the construction, Faria said he is interested in returning to the original 250 Brook St. location when the designated retail space is available.

Bagel Gourmet, which has also leased the space from Brown for about 25 years, may relocate to a temporary location on campus, according to Clark.

“We have engaged in discussion with each tenant to support their relocation efforts, including discussion about potential relocation to other Brown-owned buildings,” Clark said. “We identified a location on campus for Bagel Gourmet to continue to bake its bagels in support of its other retail operations in Providence, including one in our medical school building.”

Still, the loss of Brook Street’s Bagel Gourmet will be felt by students who often frequent the beloved bagel joint.

“It was basically a staple of my year last year because I would, before class, almost every day, go to Bagel Gourmet because it was so conveniently close,” said Charles Levy ’24. “It was very easily accessible from (Vartan Gregorian Quad) because it was right behind it, so I always felt like it was something I could rely on.” […]

Faria also emphasized his partnership with the University, sharing his gratitude for its assistance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last year and a half with COVID, we just got destroyed,” Faria said. “We had some government aid and cut our hours back. And (the University) reduced my rent tremendously … Without those things, I think I would’ve gone out a while ago. They’ve been really good to me.

Still, Levy expresses regret at the demolition of the plaza. “I’m definitely sad because it was a big part of my freshman year,” Levy said. “I hope that somehow, hopefully the East Side Mini-Mart can move somewhere close by or be included as a bottom part of the new residence hall.”

Captured January 4, 2022 from https://www.browndailyherald.com/article/2021/09/east-side-mini-mart-to-close-in-bittersweet-farewell-as-university-makes-room-for-new-dorm


Brown buys Brook St. business strip near dorm site

by Ken Mingis
Providence Journal | October 12, 1989 (abridged)

Read the full article

Brown University announced yesterday that it has purchased a commercial strip of land on Brook Street that two years ago was the focal point of a heated debate between the university and East Side residents.

The 29,000-square-foot parcel is between Charlesfield and Power Streets, adjacent to the site of a 300-student dormitory Brown plans to build.

It was unclear last night how much the university paid the owners, Jack Braverman and James Levitt, for the property. A Brown official refused to disclose the purchase price except to say it was “a considerable amount.”

“That’s a private matter,” said Ancelin Lynch, associate director of government and community relations. The purchase will become public, however, when the transaction is filed in land records at City Hall.

Two years ago, the University sought permission to build a combined dormitory/retail complex using the commercial space it has now bought.

The plan was fought by College Hill and Fox Point residents who argued it would increase traffic and noise. Heeding those arguments, the Zoning Board of Review turned down the proposal, forcing Brown to proceed with the dorm alone.

There are several businesses now located on the land, including a gas station, a coin laundry, a convenience store and a fast food restaurant.

The property will be managed by Farview, the university’s wholly owned commercial real estate subsidiary, Lynch said.

Eventually the land will be used for educational purposes, Lynch said. In the meantime, Farview will continue to rent it to the businesses there. Buying out the leases would be too expensive, she said.

“We’re not sure what we will do with it or when we’ll deal with developing it,” Lynch said. “It may well turn out to be an additional space added onto the dorm or classrooms or academic offices.

”We will use it for the revenue in the short term,” she said.

Lynch said she did not know how much the university will collect in rent each year, and said it may not actually be used for academic purposes until 2003, when the last lease runs out.

The university may decide, however, to buy out the leases before then, if money to do so becomes available, Lynch said.

“I think part of the reasoning for purchasing it now was we knew we would be going ahead and building the dorm, and the missing piece of property would not get less expensive,” Lynch said. “It does have economic value.

“The decision was made … (to) bite the bullet and do it now,” Lynch said.

MINGIS, KEN. “Brown buys Brook St. business strip near dorm site.” Providence Journal (RI), CITY FINAL ed., sec. NEWS, 12 Oct. 1989, pp. B-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/152524FE707CCFB0. Accessed 3 Jan. 2022.