$20M residential renovation of Studley Building completed

A $20 MILLION RENOVATION of the Studley Building was completed recently at 86 Weybosset St. in downtown Providence. The milestone was marked by a ribbon-cutting ceremony, as the owner of the historic former office building welcomes its first residential tenants. / COURTESY PAOLINO PROPERTIES LP

PROVIDENCE – A $20 million renovation of the Studley Building was completed in downtown Providence, which was marked recently by a ribbon-cutting, as the owner of the historic former office building welcomes its first residential tenants.

“Converting commercial space into residential units is a smart and thoughtful investment that will contribute to the vitality of downtown Providence,” said Joseph R. Paolino Jr., managing partner of Paolino Properties LP, which owns the building. “A thriving downtown relies on a diverse community of residents, workers, diners and visitors, and we are honored that The Studley will play a vibrant role in shaping the fabric of this flourishing urban landscape.”

The 86 Weybosset St. property, a six-story building originally constructed in 1891, was redeveloped from a commercial building into an apartment complex with 65 fully furnished studio and one-bedroom units. The $20 million project undertaken by Paolino Properties was given a $2.1 million boost from the state in February 2020 as part of the Rhode Island Historic Tax Credit Program, and the state also subsidized the project through the Workforce Housing Innovation Challenge and Rebuild RI sales tax credits.

The property has been owned by the Paolino family since the 1950s, when R.I. Supreme Court Justice Thomas J. Paolino acquired the building, said Joseph R. Paolino Jr., who is a former mayor of Providence and was U.S. ambassador to Malta. The former office building previously underwent a massive renovation in 1989 spearheaded by Joseph R. Paolino Sr., his son said.

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The property was most recently valued by Providence assessors in fiscal year 2022 as being worth $3.39 million, according to the city’s online property tax evaluation database.

Paolino Properties and government officials attending the recent ribbon-cutting ceremony said more than 20% of the 65 Studley Building apartments will be dedicated as workforce housing, meaning for individuals and families earning below 120% of the area’s median income.

“The Studley Building project serves as a prime example of the progress that our state is making to produce and preserve housing units by converting this historic building into workforce housing – putting more feet on the street and increasing economic activity of our businesses downtown,” said Gov. Daniel J. McKee. “I thank the Paolino family for their ongoing dedication to community development across the Ocean State.”

To rent a unit in the Studley Building costs $1,500 to $2,000 per month, Paolino said. Aimed at meeting the needs of downtown workers, according to Paolino Properties, the fully furnished units include in-room laundry machines, microwave convection ovens, electric stove-top burners, stainless steel appliances and flat-screen TVs.

The residential redesign was led by architect and designer Eric Zuena, of the Providence-based ZDS Architecture & Interior Design.

“The Studley Building serves as a model for how the city and its partners can breathe new life into our historic buildings so they can meet the changing needs of our community,” said Providence Mayor Brett P. Smiley.

Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockObama. 

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