Among the most delicious of downtown events, and well on its way to being a Providence tradition, is the tour of downtown apartments hosted annually by the Providence Foundation and the Downtown Providence Improvement District. This year’s Downtown Providence Living Tour is on Saturday, June 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 at downtownprovidence.com or, on Saturday, $10 at AS220, on Empire Street. Kids under age 10 tour for free; free for all are shuttles and pedicabs between sites.
All units on the tour are for rent. Here is this year’s itinerary:
- 95 Lofts: 59 units in the Irons & Russell Building. 95 Chestnut St.
- 225 Weybosset: 12 units in two historic buildings across from PPAC
- Arcade Providence: 48 micro-lofts in the nation’s oldest shopping mall
- Avalon at Center Place: 225 units near train station. 50 Park Row West
- G Reserve: 60 units in the Union Trust Building. 170 Westminster St.
- Peerless Building: 97 units with atrium and roof deck. 150 Union St.
- Providence G: 56 units in three historic buildings. 100 Dorrance St.
- Regency Plaza: 473 units with pool and tennis courts. 1 Regency Plaza
- The Sampalis Building: 15 units across from PPAC. 199 Weybosset St.
- Telephone Building: 12 units in ornate office building. 112 Union St.
- Wilkinson Building: 12 units in smallest Buff Chace rehab. 90 Eddy St.
Each year, as the number of places to live downtown multiplies, it must be ever more difficult for Joelle Kanter, of the foundation, to keep the list of buildings on the tour within manageable limits. The tour has become an adjunct of last weekend’s Festival of Historic Houses tour hosted annually by the Providence Preservation Society, but more utilitarian in purpose. It is intended mainly to help people thinking about moving downtown, but while the society’s festival offers a peep into the home lives of the owners of the houses on the tour, the foundation/PDID tour’s sites feature unoccupied apartments – that is, you could live here! How titillating is that!? If you also fancy yourself a connoisseur of apartment design, indulge!
As a denizen of this tour and a reporter covering new building rehabs downtown for decades, I have seen ’em all. Or so I thought. This year’s tour has apartments in six (6) buildings whose renovations I have yet to see. Those six represent part of downtown’s boom in apartment construction but not the whole thing. Several apartment rehabs are not done yet, including the (former) Paolino World Headquarters on Dorrance, and the dear Lapham Building on Westminster, and also include rehabs that are done though I have not seen them and they are not on this year’s tour. Large apartment buildings have also been proposed, including the Procacciantis’ building along the Woonasquatucket behind Providence Place, and Buff Chace’s proposed building on the parking lot across Fountain Street from my old place of toil, the Providence Journal building, which he now owns.
No doubt the developers of these living spaces are anticipating the habitation needs of the flood of workers expected to take jobs in the new buildings that will soon be arising along the I-195 corridor, our very own innovation district. Although I’d rather that those new buildings embrace traditional design, I say good luck with that. If a sandbox for the modernists will help further enliven downtown, I can get with the program. At least it may be said that those new workers, after spending eight hours in an ugly glass box, will have nice places to go home to. Where? Well, that’s what Saturday’s tour is all about. Check it out!