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Developer Plans 30-Story Apartment Project In Providence As City Faces Housing Crunch

The downtown skyline of Providence, Rhode Island

A Cranston, Rhode Island-based real estate developer has proposed one of the tallest buildings in Providence as city officials have been pushed to encourage more housing. 

A subsidiary of Procaccianti Cos. submitted plans to demolish the Hilton hotel it owns to make room for a 30-story, 216-unit apartment building at 21 Atwells Ave., The Boston Globe reported. The proposal also includes an eight-story parking deck with 248 spaces. 

The apartment tower would reach 326 feet tall and offer a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The proposal is being reviewed by the city's Downtown Design Review Committee. 

Nearly a decade ago, the company proposed a similar residential tower on the site that would have been part of a $1B real estate investment in the area dubbed The Power Block. However, the project was never constructed.

The site is across the street from the 14,000-seat Amica Mutual Pavilion, an arena that hosts the Providence College men's basketball team, the American Hockey League's Providence Bruins, and other concerts and events. 

The project in downtown Providence is roughly an hourlong drive from downtown Boston, making it a viable option for people who want to move out of Massachusetts — which is seeing a growing trend of out-migration — but still be able to commute to the city. 

The proposal comes as Providence has faced a housing crunch.

Developers have criticized the city for pushing for more housing without providing enough tax incentives to spur new housing development, the Globe reported last week.

The city's most popular tax incentive, the tax stabilization agreement, offers developers an introductory tax rate that will increase to full taxation over five to 20 years. But the city didn't issue any incentives through the program for more than a year until this month, according to the Globe. 

Like Boston, Providence is facing a supply-demand issue, with more than 96% of its rental units occupied. Its rent increases have been among the sharpest in the country, including a 7.5% increase year-over-year in October, according to Zillow.

In 2022, the city's largest office tower, the Superman Building, was proposed to be redeveloped into nearly 300 residential units, new office space and retail space. The project has run into roadblocks, with the state's housing secretary saying the project might need more public funding to be viable, The Boston Globe reported last month. 

Across the street, another office building is slated for conversion to housing.

The owner of the 34K SF, five-story Lauderdale Building proposed adding 24 housing units, the Globe reported in February. The building was 90% vacant when bought by New York-based investor Jeffrey Mendell in 2023 for $2.4M. The developer has sought a $730K state grant to fund the estimated $11M development.