#On The Boards

#No SMART Hotel but Demolition Anyway?

Update November 15, 2023

While the proposal for a hotel on this site was turned down by the City Planning Commission, it seems the developer wants to raze the houses anyway. Councilman John Goncalves worked to issue a stop work notice, declaring that not enough notice was given. With no plans for a new building on this site, the Councilman argues that there was not enough time to review the demolition and its affect on the housing market (loss of apartments with no replacement). Complete story at WJAR Channel 10

Rendering by ZDS Architects from the proposal submitted to the City Planning Commission
Update November 22, 2022
On November 16, the City Council heard SMART Princeton Hotel Group, LLC’s petition for a Zoning Change for the properties on 209-217 Angell Street from a Residential-Professional (RP) to a Commercial (C2) District. After initial comments, the Council determined they did not have jurisdiction and the matter was continued indefinitely.
Update Nov 12, 2022
SMART Princeton Hotel Group and Angell Investments are petitioning for a Zone Change for 209-217 Angell Street from a Residential Professional (RP) District to a General Commercial (C2) District, which would allow a new hotel to be built at the site of three older homes. This petition was originally considered in 2019-2020 by the City Planning Commission.

The former plan from 2020 has not changed and would require the demolition of three 3-story homes for a L-shaped, 6-story hotel with circular driveway on Angell Street. It seems as though the Mansard-roof design from November 2019 is still the design that ZDS Architects and the developer are proposing.

The proposed demolitions are for three houses, all listed in the College Hill Historic District (a district that has undergone much erosion in the past ten years):

  • 209 Angell St. — House, 1857-75. Second Empire; 2-1/2 stories; mansard roof; siding; shallow L plan; side-hall entrance under Doric portico; bay window flanking entrance; gabled dormers retain detail; other detail stripped.
  • 211 Angell St. — Bullock-Harris House, c. 1850. Italianate; 2-1/2 stories; hip roof; clapboard; asymmetrical villa-type plan with projecting front wing flanking entrance porch with paired columns; quoin trim; single, paired, and triple windows with molded caps; deep bracketed eaves; prominent gabled dormers. One of the earliest and best designed villa type houses in Providence. Built for William P. Bullock, later owned by Sarah P. Harris and for many years by her descendants.
  • 217 Angell St. — House, 1892. Colonial Revival; 2-1/2 stories; massive end-gambrel roof; clapboard; fine large-scale, compact dwelling; off-center entrance covered by central porch with paired Tuscan columns; bay window over porch contains stucco relief panel with foliate ornament and date; entablature trim between floors and 1st-story corner pilasters; bracketed side overhangs over 1st story and end overhangs over 2nd; side bays and dormers; chimney projects through dormer on west.

Note: Listing in a historic district DOES NOT offer ANY protection if the Council votes to approve based on the merit of the new design and the overall benefits to the neighborhood and city. It often only means that the loss of historic structures is a factor that needs to be weighed against the benefits of a new building.

#251-269 Wickenden Street

Moved most of this information to a #DemolitionAlert post for the properties at 249 through 265.

Update November 4, 2023

October rendering for Fox Point Capital LLC

On Tuesday, October 17, the City Plan Commission approved an updated Master Plan proposal. This design has substantially changed; the facade has been broken up into three distinct sections and the residential-unit count increased from 62 to 75 while commercial and parking space decreased. The fifth story was hidden as requested by the Commission in order to grant the additional story, with a denied request to encroach on a 20-foot rear setback by 10 feet. The approval came with many conditions, including a request for further details on the transformer’s location; a recommendation that the loading space for parking remains; and requested specifications related to the cellar, landscaping, floor plans, drainage management and signage, all to be presented at the proposal’s next step, Preliminary Planning.

Update August 22, 2023

William Morgan weighs in with this GoLocal recent article.

Update August 16, 2023

August rendering for Fox Point Capital LLC

The City Plan Commission approved the plan for this new building after the developer made slight modifications to the design. Even though most of the 60 citizens who packed the meeting opposed the development, the CPC has a history of agreeing with developers who are making an investment in the city. They push back some, but not enough most of the time, and do not always consider public opinion. Granted, some of that opinion might be NIMBY, but many people presented salient points about the design, the increase in density, and the historic and relatively untouched nature of the neighborhood.

#Proposed demolition of Mount Pleasant High School

Update November 20, 2023

The initial September 15 deadline for Mount Pleasant High School was only the first of three steps of the “Necessity of School Construction” application process. The next steps are the Stage II application, due on February 15, 2024, and City Council approval, to occur in May 2024. Once these steps are complete, the plans will enter a Design Review process. While a full renovation is off the table, hybrid options are being considered. PPS will continue to advocate for a Mount Pleasant that retains its facade, as supported by many community members, students and faculty.

Please share your comments with Superintendent Javier Montanez (401-456-9100), Director of School Building Authority Mario Carreno (mario.carreno@ride.ri.gov), and Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (ward5@providenceri.gov or 401-521-7477).

Previous News

The Providence Public School Department is considering whether to knock down Mount Pleasant High School in favor of constructing a cheaper alternative. The district has been under state control since 2019, and touched on three proposals for the school during a community hearing.

The first proposal recommends renovating the existing building, while the second suggests knocking it down and building a new one in its place. The final proposal is a combination of the first two, with a portion of the school being torn down to make room for a new build. Saving the building and upgrading it would create a $80 million budget shortfall, while new construction is more cost-effective.

The details of the proposals were scant, with no mention of the interior design or classroom models of each proposal. It was also unclear if the budgetary shortfall was created because of the costs associated with maintenance vs. the temporary savings of not having large maintenance projects associated with a new building for a few years.

A portion of this decision to demolish seems self-inflicted, in our opinion. RIDE and the school takeover administration cut repair funding from $26.5M to $3.6M which likely created a demolition by neglect scenario.

Story from WPRI News

#108–110 Waterman Street

Streetview of 110 Waterman Street from Google

Update September 30, 2023

We have added this property to our archive: 108–110 Waterman Street

Update September 27, 2023

Aa 5-story, 28-unit apartment building proposal received Master Plan Approval on September 19, with the condition of removing the rooftop deck due to noise concerns. It was determined by the Historic District Commission that the structure was not architecturally significant enough to prevent its demolition. Providence’s first National Register District, the College Hill Historic District, continues to be willingly degraded with losses like this.

Previous Update

The demolition of yet another contributing house to the College Hill Historic District is being proposed. The replacement is another bland dark box with 26 units and 56 bedrooms. The developer and architect are the same ones who demolished two former homes on the corner of Brook and Waterman. The architecture style would be the same as well, which would start to create a pattern along that street that would make it difficult to tell one building from another. Further, we think it would not be long for the one remaining house in between these two behemoths to be replaced by the same architecture.

The design of the new 26 unit building can be downloaded as a PDF from the City website. We encourage citizens to speak out against this wall of sameness along an important commercial and historic corridor.

The existing building is the Rufus Waterman House, built 1877. It is a very handsome double-house with a Second Empire mansard roof, gothic details, and ground-cloor retail. Unlike some houses that have been torn down in the are recently, we don’t think you can claim that this house is “blighted.”

According to the staff notes on the hearing, they are not opposed to demolition in this section of the city as we have seen so many times in the past.

#Parcel 2

On Wednesday, May 17, Urbanica Inc. presented their new concept proposal for Parcel 2. This design now features two buildings, scaled at 3, 4, and 5 stories with the 3-story portions facing South Main Street and the height increasing towards the south and the waterfront. The Providence Preservation Society commends the collaboration with the State Historic Preservation Office and Urbanica to create a more balanced proposal for the parcel.

#I-195 Land Parcels 14 and 15

Update April, 2023

Excerpted from Beth Comery for the Providence Daily Dose:

Rendering by CV Properties

Boston-based CV Properties wants to develop an apartment building on the west side of the Providence River, north of the parcel that was recently in the news. My immediate reaction? I don’t hate it. The image featured here shows the first phase; below is an aerial image of the eventual master plan comprising three buildings. From the Boston Globe:

CV Properties submitted their proposal to the 195 Redevelopment District Commission and company representatives will present their plans during a meeting on April 19. The proposal, which was shared with the Globe on Wednesday, includes plans for a 149-unit residential building to anchor Parcels 14 and 15 along Dyer Street. The proposal also outlines the firm’s plans for an adjacent parcel of land owned by Brown University.

The public is invited to comment at the next regular meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to be held in District Hall on Dyer Street. The public comment session follows opening remarks by Chairperson Crisafulli.

Members of the public should sign-up to speak during the general public comment session via email at questions@195district.com. Comments will be limited to 3 minutes per person. Download the agenda and supplemental materials for the April 19 meeting at Commission Meeting Documents.

#122 Power Street

Rendering by KITE Architects, dated September 2022

During the planning process for the Brook Street Residence Halls, one recommendation from the community was that Brown build a single-family residential house at the northeast corner of Brook and Power Streets. This is currently an unimproved gravel construction staging area and was previously a parking lot adjacent to a house Brown bought, 126 Power Street. In response to that feedback, Brown committed to the goals of a house that was appropriately situated on the corner, holds the residential edge where neighborhood and campus meet, and sustains the historical fabric of the street. Brown has hired Christine West of Kite Architects to design this proposed new house.

This proposed new house has received conceptual approval from the Providence Historic District Commission (PHDC) and is slated for consideration by the Providence Zoning Board in February. The City Planning Department has issued a recommendation against the zoning variances needed to build this house. If the Zoning Board denies the University’s requested relief, Brown cannot move forward on this project.

If approved by the City, Brown intends to sell this house to Brown faculty or staff as part of the Brown to Brown Home Ownership Program. To date, Brown has renovated and sold 21 Brown-owned houses to faculty and staff over the past fifteen years, putting millions of dollars of property back on the tax rolls. All of these properties are on College Hill, and allow faculty and staff housing close to campus.

#I-195 Redevelopment District Commission

Rendering by D+P and Truthbox for parcels 8 and 8a in India Point

On November 9, the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission approved concept plans for three projects: mixed-income housing on Parcel 9, BankRI’s headquarters and commercial-residential space on Parcels 8/8a, and a state health lab on Parcel 25. They will move forward with some conditions to a one-part Final Plan Review. These projects will bring much-needed residential units, STEM jobs, and the first corporate headquarters built in Providence in three decades. You can review the proposals on the Commission website under “November 9, 2022.”

#311 Knight Street

Rendering by ZDS Architects from the proposal submitted to the City Planning Commission

Update Nov 12, 2022

A five-story, 41-unit apartment building will be coming to Providence’s West End reads the headline from the Providence Journal. This building is another design from ZDS Architects.

Construction is supposed to start in late 2022. The three lots of this location were the former M.N. Cartier & Sons and a car lot on the corner next door. Older renderings are available as presented to the City Plan Commission in July of 2021.

#Demolition Approved

#116 Waterman Street

Rendering by Aharonian and Associates, Inc., dated October 2022

Update March 15, 2023

These properties are now part of our #UsedToBeThere collection.

Update February 24, 2023 The proposal for a 5-story mixed-use apartment building at the corner of Waterman and Brook Street was presented at the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, February 21. The master plan was approved last July and will involve the demolition of two National Register-listed residential buildings. Continued from January, the preliminary plan’s waiver requests for an additional floor and residential use within 20 feet of a main street were approved, contingent on the use of noise regulatory devices and 24/7 security for the life of the project. Few presentations in opposition were heard — the Providence Preservation Society was one of the few objectors to the variances.

Update November 22, 2022 Walter Bronhard and Brook Holding LLC as applicants are proposing to demolish two existing buildings to construct a new mixed-use five story building with commercial use on the ground floor and 25 dwelling units. The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval and requesting a dimensional adjustment to maintain a height of 58’ and five stories where 50’ and four stories are allowed by right in the zone. The applicant is also requesting a design waiver for locating residential development within 20’ of a main street – for action (AP 12 Lots 180 and 260, College Hill)

The two houses, Lot 260 and 180, are located at 116 Waterman Street and 382 Brook Street. Both are rental residential houses with construction dates of 1857 and 1895 respectively listed in the College Hill Historic district. This development would continue to erode the historic nature of the Brook Waterman Cushing Thayer blocks as discussed in more detail on our recent article concerning the demolition of 235 Meeting Street.

A PDF document of the proposed building plans can be found on the Providence RI website, linked here.

#230 Waterman St

Streetview capture of the former Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home
Update December 8, 2022
Added a page for the property in #DemolitionAlert and UsedToBeThere.
Update Nov 22, 2022
On November 15, the City Plan Commission unanimously approved the demolition of 230 Waterman Street, stating that there are no protections for this 1892 funeral home. In response to PPS’ comments, the developer stated that “incorporation of the existing building would be impossible.” PPS was alone in opposing the demolition. The new building will host a ground-floor commercial unit and three floors with 12 residential units. We will continue to watch this developing project.
Update Nov 12, 2022
Myles Standish Associates on behalf of Capstone Properties is proposing the demolition of an existing 1892 building at 230 Waterman Street in Wayland Square (Google Streetview)— the former Monahan Drabble Sherman Funeral Home and location of McBride’s Pub.

The existing preliminary plans have been posted for public review. Outright demolition of the property seems unneccesary, and a more imaginative design could incorporate it. The current design is a bland and basic-looking four story condo that looks more like a cheap hotel. At least 77 South Angell Street (Google Streetview), just outside Wayland Square, is a more intersting condo building with real brick and stone exterior finishes.

More advocacy news at the Providence Preservation Society.