Parcel 8 North (Baccari mixed use proposal)

About 50 apartments and seven stories was considered for Pike Street with an unusual screen wall featuring a LED lighting display

About this Property

#Proposal

The design for Parcel 8 North came a few years before 580 Water Street and Parcel 6 in 2014. The developer was Richard Baccari II, the same developer who eventually moved on to create 580 South Water Street.

By November of 2015, the project was approved by the city’s Downtown Design Review Committee but was awaiting approval from the I-195 District Commission.1 From what we can remember, the design was approved but did not move forward for reasons that are unclear. Richard Baccari II’s father, Richard Baccari, retired in 2015 which may have led to the shift in focus towards different developments.

The design featured a seven-story residential building with 46 or 48 apartments and 20,000 sf of commercial space, including a new main office for Baccari.

#Design Reception

The design here was pretty cool, in our opinion. The building proposed was slightly smaller than 580 Water Street built to the south. If looking at the third rendering — drawn from the perspective of South Water Street facing south southwest — it looks like two buildings. KITE broke up the main mass into a front building and a setback, pairing a lower three story brick building as a companion to the existing 1869 Fuller Iron Works. A bridge over a driveway between the two connected the commercial spaces together, leaving the taller residential portion of the building pushed back from the street front, which makes a more pleasant pedestrian experience.

Since the building was proposed but not built, it did not garner much discussion. Critic William Morgan noticed the design and referenced it in an article where he railed against over-scaled buildings, which seems to have been primarily directed at ZDS’s design for 580 Water Street:

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.2

While not exactly glowing praise, it does put this building into contrast with the ones that were actually built. We think it was far better than that — reasonably considered as well as aspirational — which is why we include it in our collection.

#In the News

Display could light former 195 land

by Kate Bramson Providence Journal | September 15, 2015

Baccari office, retail, residential project designed as gateway.

A proposed project on former Route 195 land, east of the Providence River, is designed as a gateway to the city, with a large panel with white LED lights that would be lit for special occasions. The architect says those lights are “meant to evoke stars in the sky.”

Developer Richard P. Baccari II, principal of Royal Oaks Realty Ventures, and architect Christine Malecki West, principal at Kite Architects in Providence, recently shared architectural drawings of the project with the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. The proposed seven-story building would connect to Baccari’s existing property at 39 Pike St. in Fox Point.

West’s design includes a large panel of aluminum “fins” or “louvers” set up vertically on one side of the building, she said. They would be spaced apart from each other and would allow passersby to see the building behind them — almost like a set of vertical window blinds, she explained.

“We have a very elegant, sculptural light display,” she said in a follow-up interview. “It’s intended to be very discrete in the daytime and appear in the night with subtle light.”

Additionally, West said she designed a glass lobby and bridge on the second floor to connect the 39 Pike Street building with the new building — intending for the glass to reflect back the historic details of that existing three-story brick building. The bridge allows the current driveway for the building to remain beneath the bridge, on Pike Street, because the city’s zoning rules there discourage entrances from the busier South Main and South Water streets, West said.

Baccari signed a purchase-and-sale agreement in January with the 195 Commission to buy a portion of Parcel 8, about one-third of an acre, for $750,000.

Baccari hopes his project will be the first to break ground on former highway land owned by the 195 Commission. Baccari intends to build 80,000 square feet of office, retail and residential space — about 20,000 square feet would be office and retail and about 60,000 square feet would be 46 to 48 apartments, he and West said.

But before the proposal moves forward, the building’s design must be approved by the city’s Downtown Design Review Committee and by the 195 Commission.

The 195 Commission, which does not have a design-review staff, agreed at its August meeting to a memorandum of understanding with the city’s design committee. The agreement goes beyond the Baccari proposal and would allow the city committee to review a proposed PawSox baseball stadium, a pending student-housing proposal and a life-sciences complex proposed by Wexford Science & Technology of Baltimore and CV Properties of Boston.

The 195 Commission retains exclusive authority as the permitting agency for all projects located entirely on district property. However, with a project such as Baccari’s, which straddles land within the city and the 195 District, approval by both entities will be required. Baccari’s 39 Pike St. building is within the city’s jurisdiction.

The current 195 Commission — with six of seven new, volunteer commissioners named by Governor Raimondo in February — has taken no public action on Baccari’s proposal. The former commission signed a letter of intent with Baccari last November and then the purchase-and-sale agreement soon after Raimondo took office.

However, Commission Chairman Joseph F. Azrack spoke favorably about Baccari’s development proposal in an emailed statement to The Providence Journal. He said it’s likely to be the first 195 District project to break ground. The commission is charged with developing about 26 acres of former highway land in a way that stimulates the state’s economy.

“The proposal for Parcel 8 is well-conceived and well-designed for its location, and the mix of uses makes sense,” Azrack said. “I am not aware of any reason why the Parcel 8 project should not be able to start during the first half of 2016.”

Also, Baccari’s purchase-and-sale agreement with the commission was contingent on his firm securing a tax-stabilization agreement with Providence. In July, the city approved special property-tax breaks for developers on the 195 land with projects worth $10 million or more. In January, the commission said Baccari’s development would cost about $20 million.

In response to a question from 195 commissioner Robert C. Davis at the commission’s August meeting, Baccari said he’s “fully in support” of the new city tax agreement. As long as Baccari meets certain city requirements, his project would get a 15-year property tax break. He’d owe no property taxes in the first year, taxes on the land alone in the next three years and taxes on the land and incrementally more on the building in each subsequent year until he’d pay full taxes by the end.

The Baccari proposal next goes before Providence’s Downtown Design Review Committee on Sept. 21.

Another development project is already under way on former 195 land, but Johnson & Wales University bought that land directly from the state, not from the commission as Baccari intends to do.

The 2011 state law creating the 195 commission granted Johnson & Wales exclusive rights to buy two former highway parcels, which would not fall under the purview of the 195 commission. The university broke ground in April for its $40-million academic building, located between Friendship and Pine streets on the western edge of the 195 land. The building will house the university’s School of Design and Engineering and undergraduate biology program.

Bramson, Kate. “Providence Display could light former 195 land - Baccari office, retail, residential project designed as gateway.” Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI News, 15 Sept. 2015, p. 1. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/159579D1D9474870. Accessed 14 Nov. 2022.

  1. Bramson, Kate. “I-195 COMMISSION Design panel OKs 7-story building east of Providence River - Project designed as gateway to city.” Providence Journal (RI), sec. RI News, 17 Nov. 2015, p. 3. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1592D95E8E7562B0. Accessed 14 Nov. 2022. 

  2. Morgan, William. “The Invasion of the Over-Scaled Buildings.” GoLocalProv.com, August 18, 2020. Accessed November 14, 2022 from https://www.golocalprov.com/business/the-invasion-of-the-over-scaled-buildingsarchitecture-critic-will-morgan)