Brook Street Residence Halls

A new set of residence halls to rise five stories along Brook Street, creating a pocket of dense stident housing

About this Property

Proposal

A very modern set of buildings will be constructed along Brook Street between Charlesfield and Power Streets. The buildings will house approximately 350 third and fourth year undergraduate students, relieving some of the pressure on the nearby housing stock. Between the recently completed health and wellness center and residence hall bounded by Thayer, Cushing, Brook, and Meeting and this project, Brown will have exceeded its 2013 Master Plan target for new undergraduate beds.

The buildings will be 64,000 and 61,000 square feet respectively. Ground-floor retail in one of the buildings was promised, and then was pulled away, but has been added again to the west building. Visit the Brown Facilities page about the project.

Design Reception

The Brown Residence Halls were proposed in late 2019 and early 2020. Neighbors and neighborhood groups pushed the project to be smaller and more in scale with the residential nature of its surroundings, but Brown pushed back. Eventually, they took the designs away from the purview of the Historic District Commission (how, we do not quite understand) and therefore went forward with their original concepts largely unchanged.

The two new “sister” residence halls required the demolition of three historic houses in the College Hill Historic District and one commercial structure which was home to a beloved bagel shop and corner store.

In the News

Brown Disregards Neighbors’ Pleas

by Amy Mendillo
Providence Monthly | January 3, 2022

As many Fox Point residents know, The Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) joined a coalition of neighborhood leaders last spring and summer to send letters of concern to Brown University President Christina Paxson regarding the university’s plans to build two large dormitories on Brook Street—and in so doing, demolish three historic homes and displace several local businesses. The coalition also circulated a petition that was signed by over 1,100 neighbors. The result? The university will proceed with the project largely as planned. While the coalition acknowledged early-on that Brown would likely move ahead with construction itself, the group had hoped for concessions in order to reduce the scale of the designs, save the homes, and retain the businesses. While President Christine Paxson and other university leaders listened to neighborhood leaders at an in-person meeting in mid-September of last year and made minor adjustments to the designs of the dorms, by and large they did not compromise. The university has since broken ground on the project.

Coalition leaders responded with a flurry of public missives. Nick Cicchitelli of FPNA and Brent Runyon of the Providence Preservation Society stated in a ProJo opinion piece that, “University leaders need to demonstrate that they value the community in which they exist.” Neighbor Liz Mauran replied, “It is disheartening to see how Brown University treats our diverse neighborhood as though it doesn’t matter.” Vincent Buonanno, a lifelong College Hill resident, Brown alumnus, and trustee emeritus, describes Brown’s behavior as “arrogance.” City Councilor John Goncalves wrote in the Boston Globe, “Brown Can and Should Do More.”

While the coalition’s pleas with Brown did not end how neighbors had hoped, leaders at FPNA say they are pleased with the visibility of the public statements. And they plan to continue this advocacy in the months to come, particularly regarding the related topics of historic protections and zoning.

Captured January 17, 2022 from https://www.fpna.net/single-post/brown-disregards-neighbors-pleas


Proposed Dorms Causing Storms?

by Amy Mendillo
Providence Monthly | August 3, 2021

By mid-spring of this year, representatives from Brown University had met twice with the Fox Point Neighborhood Association to share plans for two new residence halls on Brook Street between Charlesfield and Power streets, at the edge of campus. Each time, university liaisons took questions from neighbors and pledged to honor community feedback on the plans.

Yet also by mid-spring, many neighbors did not feel satisfied that their comments on these proposals had been heard. The buildings, which were slated to hold hundreds of students, were not only too large in scale to harmonize with a quiet residential neighborhood, wrote neighbors in a May letter to Brown President Christina Paxson, but were out of keeping with the character of the historic district. The dorms would “tower over abutting properties,” they wrote, creating a “cavern” on Brook Street. What’s more, residents decried the proposed demolition of three nearby historic houses and the displacement of popular local businesses like the popular Bagel Gourmet and East Side Mini Mart.

Since then, the coalition of neighbors, which includes the Fox Point Neighborhood Association, the College Hill Neighborhood Association, the Mile of History Association, the Providence Preservation Society, City Council John Goncalves, and individual neighbors whose homes abut the site, circulated a petition that acquired upward of 1,100 signatures. And while Paxson’s June reply to the group acknowledged its concerns, members say they were disappointed to see only superficial adjustments to the plans. University architects altered the rooflines, for instance, and moved the west building northward to edge it out of the historic district. But the group has felt largely rebuffed.

“We felt our requests were legitimate,” commented one neighborhood association board member. The group had hoped that Brown cared about cultivating a good relationship with neighbors, she said. “In reality,” she continued, “we feel dismissed and steamrolled by the Goliath on the hill.”

Captured January 17, 2022 from https://www.fpna.net/single-post/proposed-dorms-causing-storms