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158 Bowen Street, detail

130 Westminster St. Associates, LLC, Rehabilitation Award

A local landmark since opening its doors in 1828, the Providence Arcade was designed by Russell Warren and James Bucklin as one of the first Greek Revival buildings in Providence. Sited between Westminster and Weybosset, the Arcade was also the first major commercial development west of the Providence River, sparking the transformation of a small, residential neighborhood into what is now Downtown Providence.

Having survived fire, hurricanes, and a proposed demolition in 1944, the Arcade closed in 2008 as plans to renovate the building for a single tenant stalled in the wake of the financial recession. Listed on PPS’ Most Endangered Properties List three times from 2009-2011, Developer Evan Granoff of 130 Westminster Street Associates knew a unique plan would be needed to revive the National Historic Landmark. Together with Northeast Collaborative Architects, the project team developed an adaptive reuse plan that included 17 Micro Retail spaces on the main level and 48 Micro Lofts on the Arcade's second and third floors– addressing the demand for affordable apartments in Downtown Providence. Ranging in size from 225 to 450 square feet, the City of Providence amended zoning restrictions to allow the design team to create small but livable spaces in a historic masonry building. Each unit features a living room, built-in furniture, storage, bathroom, and kitchen with refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, and microwave. The concept has inspired other cities to experiment with small spaces- putting Providence in the international spotlight.

The $7 million project was financed using Rhode Island Historic Tax Credits, Federal Historic Tax Credits, a Tax-Stabilization Agreement with the City of Providence and private financing with BankRI. Due to the use of Historic Tax Credits, the design team worked closely with the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission to ensure the interior design did not affect the historic integrity of the building.

The successful rehabilitation of this former Most Endangered Property represents a landmark achievement for the project team, the preservation community, and the City of Providence.