Developer proposes boutique hotel, art gallery for I-195 district

An initial rendering of the River View Hotel proposed for Parcel 1A. At right is pedestrian bridge to downtown. / COURTESY GNF ASSOCIATES.
AN INITIAL RENDERING of the River View Hotel proposed for Parcel 1A. At right is pedestrian bridge to downtown. / COURTESY GNF ASSOCIATES.

PROVIDENCE — A Massachusetts development team released plans Monday for a six-story, 52-room boutique hotel on the east side of the Providence River, on one of the smallest parcels in the Interstate 195 Redevelopment District.

The project, tentatively called the River View Hotel and Gallery, would include a 50-seat riverfront cafe and function room, an 1,800-square-foot art gallery, and approximately 30,000 square feet of interior space. The height would be about 50 to 60 feet, according to the schematic drawings.

The developer and architect is Gerald Fandetti, president of Cambridge, Mass.-based GNF Associates.

The development team also includes Andrew Teitz, a principal attorney with Providence-based Ursillo, Teitz & Ritch Ltd., and Charlotte Fandetti, co-developer and a professional artist.

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In a brief presentation to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Monday, Gerald Fandetti said he wanted to build an arts-infused boutique hotel in Providence that would fit into the small site fronting the river. It would incorporate the public park running along the river, and be an inviting presence, he said. The proposed art gallery would include the work of Rhode Island School of Design students and faculty, he said, and draw on the artists in the region.

The location would be Parcel 1A, on South Water Street, a site of approximately 0.28 acres just north of the landing on the east side for the pedestrian bridge being built to connect the east and west shores of the river.

“It’s really unique and takes advantage of what the parcel is,” Fandetti said.

The schematic design includes a two-level restaurant and art gallery at streetside, with curtain walls of glass that would be inviting to pedestrians. The floors above would be tiered back from the river in levels, allowing for guest rooms and open terraces that overlook the river and Downtown Providence.

When asked about demand for another hotel in Providence, which has several under active construction, Fandetti said the price for the rooms would be set above the typical hotel.
He did not state a project cost or estimate, or timeline for construction. In response to a query from Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor, Fandetti told commissioners he would not be seeking state incentives to offset development costs.

After the meeting, Fandetti said he would be seeking a city tax agreement to phase in property taxes, and would hope for a fair price on the purchase of the land.

The I-195 commission listened to the presentation as part of an initial, or schematic review. A vote on whether the commission agrees with the proposed use, as part of the Phase I review, will be scheduled after public comment is taken.

The Fandettis, who attended Rhode Island School of Design, own a family-run business and have developed and operate a series of hotel and hospitality-related projects in Massachusetts. The largest is the 77-room Kendall Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., which involved an historic conversion of a retired firehouse into a boutique hotel, as well as new construction of guest rooms.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for PBN.