Community Development Project Updates

Development projects often take a long time to come to fruition, but we want to keep sharing what we know about proposed projects that have come before our Community Development Committee. The WBNA appreciates the opportunity to review many of the development projects seeking a home on the west side. Here are a few updates on the status of projects in the works.
 

9 PARADE STREET
PROPOSED: RESTAURANT > PASTAIO

A year and a half ago, Donald of Baffoni's Poultry Farm in Johnston, RI, and his son Adam Baffoni who is a chef, gave a presentation to the CDC while in the early stages of their proposed restaurant project. After many months of planning and permitting, and nearly ten months of renovating and building out this former electronics supply store, Adam is now just a few weeks away from opening Pastaio, a restaurant serving fare with mediterranean-inspired flavors and a high use of seasonal New England ingredients. 

Pastaio (pronounced past-aye-oh) means pasta maker. Adam, a Johnson & Wales graduate who has been cooking since his teenage years, looks forward to bringing local food products into his restaurant as his family has been doing at farmers' markets for many years. He says that one of the most frequent questions asked is if Pastaio will be serving fried chicken (it will not), but, he jokes, there are a lot of eggs in fresh pasta.

The property has two storefronts. Pastaio will occupy the one closest to the park while the other will be a Caribbean-style take-out joint run by another member of the Baffoni family slated to open this summer.

The restaurant is now awaiting a fire inspection and an upgrade of its gas service. Nearly all cosmetic work is completed except for new awnings which will soon be installed on the front of the building. With its menu and business hours already posted, Pastaio seems ready to go. 
 

19 HARRISON STREET
PROPOSED: APARTMENTS

Brothers Federico and Antonio Manaigo of Knight & Swan came before the WBNA Community Development Committee and PPS Planning & Architectural Review Committee in December 2013 and gave a presentation about proposed apartment units at 19 Harrison Street (former Lawton building).

Though they had purchased the property in 2014, the brothers were underway with another historic renovation project at 55 Cromwell Street (between Dexter & Elmwood Ave), converting a mill into live/work spaces. As the mill project wrapped up in mid-2016, the Manaigo's turned their attention toward Harrison Street, and began construction last November.

Working with federal and state historic tax credits and all local contractors including KITE Architects, 19 Harrison Street is currently being transformed into 15 rental units total including 9 one bedroom apartments and 6 two bedroom apartments, two of which are being built as townhouses facing Harrison Street. Antonio Manaigo, a RISD graduate who lives on Messer Street, is the project's general contractor and estimates that some units will be ready to rent this fall.

Built in the 1870s as the Pilgrim Congregational Church, 19 Harrison Street is rumored to have endured a fire many years ago that destroyed the steeple at the northeast corner of the building that was double the height of what remains now (see photos above). Over the years other changes to the building's shape and silhouette took place, either through neglect/deterioration or intentional modifications.

Comparing an illustration of the church in its original form to the building today explains a lot; you can trace rooflines that no longer exist and shadows of architectural details that got rubbed out or filled in, like the rose window at the center of the church's facade. 

There were also at least two additions to the building that further transformed the original church structure. One addition was removed a few years ago, exposing some of the church's original exterior brick work details of the north elevation.

There are no plans to rebuild the church's massive steeple, but 19 Harrison Street will structurally be in the best shape its been in decades. Keeping its current form, the exterior of the building has undergone extensive repointing and the center top of the northeast facade has been bolstered and stabilized (there had been nothing holding up what remained of the top of the facade above the rose window).

Antonio reports that windows should be arriving in a little over a month while a new roof will be installed next week. Interior framing and plumbing are being completed while two interior staircases are being built, and kitchens will be arriving from the Manaigo's home country of Italy in a few weeks. Antonio says they are keeping good pace with their schedule, and anticipates that pre-leasing of the units could take place as early as July or August.
 

1413 WESTMINSTER STREET
PROJECT: SIN BAKERY

In 2013 Sin Bakery's proposal to transform 1326 Westminster Street (former L & L Gas & Service) into a restaurant won the WBNA's Request for Proposals process for that property. But the EPA's discovery of hazardous materials on the site doomed the building to demolition, and Sin had to abandon those plans.

After admirable perseverance, however, owner Jen Luxmoore found a new home for Sin Bakery in the former Healing Paws building at 1413 Westminster Street which she purchased last November. The complete build-out by neighbor-owned Casa Buena Builders is now nearing completion with final painting and floors finished, and coffee machines and exterior sign being installed this week. Floor to ceiling tiling was done by Jen herself.

Jen hopes to be testing out the ovens and other equipment at the end of this week. Look for a soft opening in the next week or two, Jen reports, with "a smaller offering of items and coffee at first till we get everyone hired/acclimated and then add in the plated desserts and pairings a couple of weeks after that."