The Procaccianti Group has been trying to raze the John E. Fogarty Memorial Building on Fountain Street in Providence since 2006.
With the announcement last week of a new plan to build a 170-room “upscale extended-stay hotel” after removing the Brutalist-style Fogarty, Cranston-based Procaccianti seems to have hit on a winning concept.
The Fogarty building, despite numerous attempts to attract new tenants into it, has resisted redevelopment. With an exterior that is not the most inviting, and an awkward floor plan, it has been sitting vacant since the developer purchased it from the Providence Redevelopment Agency in 2005. In short, it is an eyesore whose time has passed.
As for what should replace it, developing hotels is one of Procaccianti’s strengths, so the project will be well done.
The only potential stumbling block could be those who want to preserve the Fogarty as a window into a significant mid-20th-century architectural movement. Preservationists should resist a reflexive call to keep the building standing.
The Fogarty building has not been redeveloped for a reason – it can’t be. It is time to recognize that fact and move forward with a plan that promises to bring more life to an important part of Providence.
One caveat to the plan, however. The city needs a firm commitment from Procaccianti that the hotel will happen before the Fogarty is razed. When it razed the city’s former public-safety building in 2007 one block from the Fogarty, the company said it had a plan to redevelop the spot. Today it is still a surface parking lot, despite a central location. The city core doesn’t need another ocean of asphalt. •
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