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About this Property
The redevelopment of this building into apartments (condos?) was a slow one. When we first added this structure in 2004, apartments were recently proposed. A Providence Business News article (below) detailed its conversion, but it seems that the owner never finished the units except for one showcase floor.
In about 2008 we received an anecdote from the former construction project manager that the conversion came to a halt and the developer sold the building to someone else. The building was going to be converted into an urban spa instead — a wacky idea if you ask us. Indeed, there was a website for a short period of time which has been captured by Archive.org. This project never seems to have been completed either.
In 2011, the project was announced as “70 Ken-West.” It was once again a residential concept, with four two-bedroom units (2 per floor with a penthouse on the 6th floor) on the Kennedy Plaza side and five 1900 sq ft three bedroom units on the Wesminster Street side1. It is our guess that these units sold and were completed because Zillow shows photos of completed apartments at this location.
If anyone has lived here and knows more about the conversion, please let us know in the anecdotes.
The first floor has been a CVS pharmacy store for as long as we can remember — more than 20 years, probably 30. The apartments (condos?) on the upper floors are rented or unfinished, we are unsure.
The People’s Bank building was erected in 1949 and replaced 19th-century buildings. It has one entrance on Kennedy Plaza and one on Westminster Street. Each entrance is a 6-story tower, the Westminster Street tower being about half the depth of the Kennedy Plaza tower. There is a one-story connecting building with a gable skylight running between the two towers.
On the Westminster Street side, over the entrance is inscribed “To Serve Those Who Save.” The building is an early example of mid-century Moderne, with expanses of polished granite and vertical bands of windows.
From the National Register nomination form for the Downtown Providence Historic District, prepared by William McKenzie Woodward, Principal Historic Preservation Planner, 1984
70 Kennedy Plaza People’s Bank (1949): Cram & Ferguson, architects. 6-story, brick-and-polished-granite-sheathed, steel-frame building with flat roofs on the 6-story towers at Kennedy Plaza and Westminster Street ends of the building and a pitched skylight over the 1- story connecting block; Westminster Street and Kennedy Plaza façades identical with polished-granite first story with bronze entrances; projecting flat structural canopy above first story; brick wall surface on upper stories broken by broad continuous vertical bay of glass-block windows flanked by similar narrow bands; handsome original interior of simple oak wainscoting and vaulted plaster ceiling with skylight.
Incorporated in 1857, People’s Bank moved from its 1913 temple-front building on Market Square to this structure upon its completion. A tidy illustration of mid-20th-century Moderne, it is significant as the only fully realized example in Downtown Providence and provides interesting contrast with older nearby structures while maintaining the scale of the street.
#In the News
Read two news articles
Inside Providence’s New Development 70 Ken-West
by Laura Ricketson
Go Local Prov | July 16, 2011 (abridged)
[… T]he historic 1949 building famously etched with the motto, “To Serve Those Who Save,” has been transformed “To Serve Those Who Luxuriate.” The etching above the front entrance will remain the same, but the inside of the Modernist bank has been converted into two upscale apartment towers, with a total of nine spaces for rent. […]
Called 70 Ken-West, one tower opens at 145 Westminster Street, and the other “more exclusive” tower opens onto 70 Kennedy Plaza. Each tower shares similar amenities: a private roof deck, a marble lobby, hardwood floors, finished kitchens and bathrooms, and ample closet space. There are high ceilings and high security, with three opportunities for the residents to punch in a security code for admission into the building and their specific unit.
While the amenities are similar, Westminster Tower’s units are two-bedrooms and 70 Kennedy Plaza’s apartments boast three plus bedrooms at just under 1900 square feet. For an added feel of glamour, the elevator in 70 Kennedy Plaza opens right into the apartment space. However, the glamour is reduced slightly when the entrance to the building is flanked by CVS on one side and Dunkin Donuts on the other.
Unlike some of comparable apartment spaces, 70 Ken-West does not come with parking or a gym. Rental parking about a block away is already worked out.
The windows are also hit or miss. In some of the bedrooms or office spaces, the glass is just a sliver to the side or is completely non-existent. However, the windows in the living rooms are, in a word, distracting. Huge panes of glass span across the whole wall and stretch over three-quarters of the 10-foot high ceilings. The views of the surrounding buildings are spectacular and as the floor numbers increase, a sweeping view of Down City emerges.
But, of course, as the view increases so does the price. The more upscale 70 Kennedy Plaza starts at $2,750 a month, and the penthouse apartment reaches $3,450. In the adjacent tower, prices start at $1,650 and rise to $2,200 a month.
“The market is not ready for condos, in my personal opinion,” says Lister who confidently predicts a very interested market to rent these spaces. The comparable Promenade and Westminster Lofts are full. Meanwhile, Waterplace Park has given its renters an ultimatum to purchase their units, so Lister says that a majority of its units are emptying out. […]
– Captured February 13, 2021 from https://www.golocalprov.com/business/inside-providences-new-development-70-ken-west
Former bank latest condo project
by Laura Ricketson
Providence Business News | August 7, 2004 (abridged)
The former People’s Savings Bank is the latest commercial building in the heart of downtown Providence being tapped for residential space.
Algen Construction and Development Corp., a former New York-based company originally set to redevelop the Masonic Temple in 2001, will head the project, which will include nine condominium units and one commercial space.
The decision to convert the building into condos “had a lot to do with banks not wanting to deal with financing office space, since there is so much vacant space downtown,” said project manager Karl Swanson. “It’s not favorable in general, and people really want to live downtown.” […]
The six-story former bank building faces Kennedy Plaza on one side and Westminster Street on the other.
Each floor is expected to have two condo units; the building is actually cut in half with two towers, Swanson said, so units on the Kennedy Plaza side would be larger, about 1,800 square feet, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The smaller units on the Westminster side will be about 900 square feet, with one or two bedrooms and one bathroom. […]
Swanson said Algen is currently knocking down walls to prepare the building for the conversion from offices to condos.
“We haven’t gone full-fledge on the construction,” Swanson said. “We’re in the process of doing that right now.”
There isn’t much demolition and reconstruction work to do, however. Because the building was formerly used as office space, it’s basically designed for living in, Swanson said, with the exception of some gutting that needs to be done.
Some of the amenities that will come standard in the units will be hardwood floors, marble bathrooms and stainless steel appliances. Those people who purchase early may have the opportunity to customize some elements of the unit, Swanson said. The other units will be built in the standard layout, he said.
The units on the Kennedy Plaza side are restricted in layout by the building’s design; the units on Westminster Street are like open rooms. […]
– Captured February 13, 2021 from an Archive.org capture at https://web.archive.org/web/20040811212918/http://www.pbn.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/107891
70ken-west.com captured February 13, 2021 from an Archive.org capture at https://web.archive.org/web/20120122045826/http://70ken-west.com/ ↩