Nightingale Building

A new 6-story apartment in downtown with 143 studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments was developed by Cornish Associates and opened in 2020

About this Property

Proposal

The original vision for this city block bounded by Washington St. to the southeast, Mathewson to the southwest, Fountain to the northwest, and Clemence to the northeast was a commercial building with office space. That changed in late 2017 when the commercial market further softened with too many open offices in the middle of the decade. Cornish Associated pivoted to a residential building.

Arnold B. Chace, head of Cornish, said this will be the first time that they have built a new building from scratch downtown. Their past projects involved the revitalization of historic buildings including the former Peerless department store, the Alice Building, and the Lederer Building among others in a cluster on Westminster St.

With a new building comes new amenities and floor plans that are not unique from one floor to another. From a real estate perspective, that uniformity is a good thing, with more predictable patterns in managing the sales and maintenance of a structure with almost 150 apartments.

About 11,000 sf of commercial space is available on the ground floor, and there is already confirmation that a small boutique grocery store will be the first to move in starting September 2022 — Rory’s Market and Kitchen.

For leasing information visit NightingaleProvidence.com.

Design Reception

From our point-if-view, the building is nice enough. Its not flashy and overly modern, but rather tries to blend in with its surroundings primarily by its scale, massing, and brick clad exterior. The lack of setback from the street reinforces the sense that this building is as old as its neighbors who are also built out to the sidewalk. We find it interesting that critic David Brussat calls this a “background building.” Perhaps that was the developers intention.

From the air, the building is an “E” shape, with its top right edge on the north. The openings in the E provide additional light for apartments in the middle of this dense city-block-size building. The rooftop areas contained by the E are resident accessible courtyards.

Each rank of windows was set off by relatively deep piers, and the fenestration was set into the walls far enough to impart additional real strength to the appearance of its façades. Between each floor of brick was a stringcourse that added to the delight of the façades’ simplicity. (Simplicity mustn’t be confused with the blankness that afflicts much bad architecture.)
Although quite large, the Nightingale fills the long-abandoned role in city planning of a background building – whose modest demeanor sets off the more ambitious qualities of so-called “iconic” buildings. That is how things were when designing cities was done with more care and elegance. Today, iconic buildings flap their wings to display the “creativity” of their design, usually at the expense of their beauty. Background buildings, when they are attempted, generally demonstrate the inanity of today’s iconic buildings.
The nightingale should not be confused with the peacock. It does not shout its beauty from the rooftops but sings of the beauty of the traditional city. It is part of the chorus of Providence that has been disappearing for decades, and its return after such a long absence is worthy of deep applause.

— David Brussat, November 20191

History

Notes on the aerial photos from the Providence Historical Aerial Viewer:

  • In a 1962 the entire block is covered by buildings, which are in a similar configuration to the 1920 Sanborn map.
  • In the 1972 aerial photo, there are buildings on both the Fountain and Washington Street sides, but no buildings in-between. By 1981 the Fountain St. building is gone except for 66 Fountain St.
  • By the 1997 photo, almost the entire block is a parking lot except for 66 Fountain St.
  • Work began on the site for the new building in 2018, with the demolition of 66 Fountain St.

In the News

NEREJ: The $54 million, 143-unit Nightingale apartment building opens in Providence

by Anthony Cormier
New England Real Estate Journal | October 16, 2020

The first new construction apartment building in over a generation has opened in downtown. Nightingale has welcomed its first residents. The newly constructed $54 million, 143-unit apartment community is in the walkable downtown. In addition to five stories of apartments, Nightingale contains 11,500 s/f of ground-level retail space, residential amenities, the latest smart building technology, and original local artwork.

Located at 100 Mathewson St., residents of Nightingale will enjoy amenities, including a fitness center, indoor parking, bike storage room, a co-working space, a resident club lounge, an elevated courtyard with firepit and roof deck with city views. The project is a culmination of efforts among project partners Cornish Associates, Nordblom Company and Boston Andes Capital, LLC.

The partnership between Cornish and Nordblom took root as the two development firms came together to redevelop the former Providence Journal Building located at 75 Fountain St. Nordblom, based out of Burlington MA, brought extensive knowledge and expertise in the commercial office sector, while Cornish, headquartered in the city, provided decades of experience developing mixed-use real estate in the local market.

Together the two firms redeveloped the four-story office building, providing office space for companies including Infosys, the Providence Journal, Tufts Health Plan, Virgin Pulse and Charles Schwab.

Included in the acquisition were two surface parking lots, one of which was the future home of Nightingale, stretching from Washington St. to Fountain St. between Mathewson and Clemence streets. In early 2017, the group initiated plans for Nightingale, shifting focus from commercial office development to the demand for additional residential units in the downtown neighborhood. What was once a surface parking lot would soon be home to 143 new apartments, dramatically increasing the density of the residential community in downtown Providence.

“Nightingale is an elegant new building adding to the urban fabric of our wonderful Historic Downtown and importantly, providing much needed housing for our city. We thank our partners from Massachusetts for seeing the opportunity Downtown Providence presents and for joining with us to make this project a reality,” said Buff Chace, managing partner at Cornish Associates.

Nightingale — whose name is a nod to a notable 18th century owner of an iron and steel business on the same site — offers residents a variety of stylish studio, one and two-bedroom apartment homes boasting contemporary finishes, some with den options, that range from 500 to 1,200 s/f. The pet-friendly apartment homes feature open concept floor plans, in-unit washers and dryers, and generous closets. Spacious balconies or patios are available within select units.

The ground floor commercial spaces promise additional amenities, with the potential for a small urban grocery shop, restaurants or retail.

“We are pleased to be involved in this transformative project,” said Ogden Hunnewell, partner at Nordblom. “Nightingale compliments the dynamic local community, while illuminating the opportunity to invest in the quality of its future.”

State and municipal stakeholders–Rhode Island Commerce Corp. Rebuild RI program and the city of Providence–played a pivotal role in the $54 million transformation of the site from a parking lot to an apartment community and retail destination.

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Captured September 16, 2022 from https://commerceri.com/nerej-the-54-million-143-unit-nightingale-apartment-building-opens-in-providence/

  1. Brussat, David. “The Nightingale sings, so far.” Architecture Here and There, 26 November, 2019. Accessed at https://architecturehereandthere.com/2019/11/26/the-nightingale-sings-so-far/