EATING WHERE THEY LIVE? Antonio Manaigo and brother Federico are looking to redevelop a vacant mill complex in the West Elmwood neighborhood in Providence into a culinary incubator as well as residential units.
Commerce in the West Elmwood neighborhood near Providence’s Armory District is a shadow of its manufacturing heyday in the early 20th century.
A few businesses are holding their own – the Virginia & Spanish Peanut Co. on Cromwell and Dexter streets; Capco Plastics on Dexter Street; and Stearns Tool Co. on Sprague Street – while the southern side of Cromwell Street is largely residential.
Enter New York City-based developer Federico Manaigo, who is working on plans to develop a culinary incubator in a vacant mill complex in the West End. His brother and partner, Antonio Manaigo, a furniture designer and Rhode Island School of Design alumnus, would be a key commercial tenant.
Named “Rooms and Works,” the $6.5 million residential and commercial project would feature the “Armory Kitchen,” which Federico Manaigo says could become a home not only for shared-use commercial kitchens, food startups and catering but also ethnic cuisine and the local farm-to-table movement.
Communal space, a wood shop and 3-D labs, as well as 52 apartments, would be integrated into the old mill complex here.
The mill complex is located in the former Klein Building built in 1890 at 55 Cromwell St. and in an adjacent building at 50R Sprague St., which the brothers have purchased. The project has been awarded $1.6 million from the 2013 Rhode Island historic-preservation tax credits program and could open in the second half of 2015, Manaigo said.
Though the brothers love New York, Providence has the elements of affordability, a vibrant college and startup scene and a growing food economy, they say.
Antonio Manaigo, who lived and worked briefly in Milan, where he earned his undergraduate degree in industrial design from the European Institute of Design before studying furniture design at RISD, said that he returned to the U.S. to start his own business in furniture design. Now he hopes to expand it if he’s able to take up residence in Rooms and Works.
His business, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., is called Antonio Manaigo Design Studio.
“I need to be in a creative, energetic place and that’s why I’m investing in Rooms and Works, because I think it’s something Providence needs,” he said.