Three-deckers find footing in past

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Three-deckers, New England’s signature apartment buildings, are evolving again. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



Real Estate

Three-deckers find footing in past

PBN PHOTO/DAVID LEVESQUE
BUYING IN: Foreclosures have created opportunity for people looking to purchase triple-decker homes in Providence. Above, David Stuebe stands outside the triple-decker home he recently purchased on Ellery Street in Providence.

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Posted 11/12/12

Three-deckers, New England’s signature apartment buildings, are evolving again.

Once factory housing, then immigrant refuges and popular condominium conversions, three-family homes throughout the region took a disproportionate beating during the foreclosure crisis, with many abandoned.

Now three-decker aficionados see high rents and low interest rates making the buildings more attractive for a new generation of owner-occupants who used to lease apartments.

That would be good news for city and affordable-housing advocates who want to save three-deckers to preserve homes that can’t be replaced under current density-limiting land-use rules.

This year Boston created a $3 million fund to preserve three-family homes out of concern that loss of buildings through neglect or foreclosure could make that city’s tight housing market even tighter.

In Providence, the focus has been on encouraging a return to the setup that made the three-decker attractive in its heyday: the owner on the first floor and tenants above. This year the city cracked down on absentee landlords claiming the homestead exemption, which gives owner-occupants a 50 percent property-tax reduction.

Considered a blight at various times over the past century for poor upkeep or their association with low-income renters, three-deckers have more recently gained currency in architectural and historic-preservation circles.

“I think of them as a very positive house form,” said C. Morgan Grefe, executive director of the Rhode Island Historical Society, who gave a lecture this fall on three-deckers at the Providence Preservation Society’s annual symposium. “Many of them were incredibly positive steps for people who lived in them over the decades. And they are very versatile,” she said. “Now you have young people and professionals moving back into them and living in them as they were originally intended.”

And if foreclosures don’t spike again, that popularity may cause apartment buildings that lost as much as half their value in the recession to gain ground in the market again.

“In the west side and Elmwood, you absolutely have owner-occupants coming in buying three-families, as long as they don’t need too much work,” said Jane Driver, broker with the Armory Revival Co. in Providence. “They are usually young couples who are renting and want to stay in the city.”

Next Page
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Only a few seats remain for PBN's Manufacturing Awards Dinner and Ceremony, Thursday, April 24th, at the Bryant University Bello Center. Don't hesitate. Register today!
  • Business Women
    Accomplished. Confident. Wicked Smart. Nominate women you know who deserve speci ...
  • 40 Under Forty
    It's the 10th Anniversary of 40 Under Forty, and PBN is planning a special event ...
  • Healthiest Employers
    Enrollment now open for the 2014 Healthiest Employers Program. Please take a mom ...
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News