Renderings of 110-112 Hudson Street (Messer at Hudson) on left, and 473 Washington Street on right
On Monday, October 15, WBNA’s Community Development Committee (CDC) held a specially scheduled meeting to review two proposed development projects in the neighborhood: 110 Hudson Street (at Messer and Hudson) comprising two 3-story buildings with 3 units each, and 473 Washington Street with new residential construction of a 4 story building with enclosed parking on the first floor and 21 one-bedroom units above.
WBNA appreciates that both developers sought community feedback via the CDC before attending their respective city review commission hearings this month.
110-112 Hudson Street (Messer at Hudson Street)
Background: Developers came before the WBNA Community Development Committee in October 2017 for a new residential construction project on the corner of Hudson and Messer Streets. In September of 2018, a revised design from the previous year’s scheme was presented at a Providence Historic District Commission (HDC) hearing, where neighbors and abutters, the Providence Preservation Society, and WBNA testified with comments. The HDC strongly encouraged developers to present their revised plans to the WBNA.
WBNA’s CDC members and attending neighbors reviewed the Hudson/Messer project in advance of its review by the Providence Historic District Commission this week. The project proposes two 3-story buildings with 3 units each and a total of 6 parking spaces on the lot. While WBNA had reviewed renderings and plans dated from July 2018, the developers introduced new renderings of the project at the October 22 HDC meeting as seen below.
WBNA appreciates that the developer has been receptive and responsive to community and commission feedback, but our concerns persist as to the quality of design, materials, construction, and detailing of the two buildings.
As currently articulated by the HDC, CDC, and abutters and neighbors, the development as proposed has not yet reached the design and detailing needed for an infill project that would compliment the existing architecture and built landscape of the neighborhood.
473 Washington Street
WBNA’s Community Development Committee members and attending neighbors reviewed the proposed development project at 473 Washington Street in advance of its review by the Providence City Plan Commission (CPC) last week. The project proposes demolition of the existing industrial building and new residential construction of a 4 story building with enclosed parking and lobby on the first floor, and 21 one-bedroom units on the upper three floors.
While CDC members regretted the loss of the existing building in this former and now-transitioning industrial corridor, neighbors observed that the proposed building could play a significant role in setting the tone for future development in this currently mixed-use pocket of the neighborhood. As such, WBNA expressed its desire for this project – as a precedent-setting, new form of development – to set high standards and employ best practices, incorporate green elements, and stressed the opportunity to be a model development in the community.
The CDC appreciates that parking for the proposed residences is located under the building and is screened, but suggests that developers also activate the ground floor with retail capacity, allowing for possible micro or pop-up retail spaces that would connect with other nearby corner retail locations such as the former North Bakery, the new Cleverhood store and others. The opportunity for retail in this location would build on the growth of other small businesses that have opened storefronts in this area, and would be supportive of our local economy.
At the ground floor, it was suggested that incorporating a “green wall” as part of the screening at street level would be environmentally beneficial and would soften the pedestrian experience. Other suggestions for adding green elements to the building include a rooftop deck with solar panels and a living/green roof.
Lastly, WBNA expressed a desire for more diversity in the kinds of housing units being offered in the proposal. Adding some 2-bedroom units would not only potentially reduce parking needs, but would address the persistent need for a multitude of unit sizes in the neighborhood.
To learn more about the WBNA’s Community Development Committee, see our CDC objectives and guidelines here.