PROVIDENCE – More than a year after scrapping a controversial building proposal in the Jewelry District, Pebb Capital presented plans plans on Monday to the Providence Downtown Design Review Committee for constructing an apartment complex smaller than initially proposed in the same location.
In July 2022, the Florida-based real estate and private equity investment firm announced that it was pulling the plug on a proposed 10-story building that would house 131 apartments and ground floor commercial spaces on 151-155 Chestnut St. The Downtown Design Review committee approved the plans in December 2019, but the project was delayed because of COVID-19-related reasons and the company was granted three six-month extensions before pulling the proposal, according to previous PBN reports.
PBN previously reported that neighborhood residents had also opposed the project because they believed it would not fit in with the neighborhood and were able to get the proposal downsized by two stories through a legal challenge related to zoning bylaws.
At the time, Suzanne Perez-Bernal, a spokesperson for Pebb, told PBN the company decided to focus on other projects and would reevaluate the best use for its Chestnut Street property.
However Monday, the Downtown Design Review Committee reviewed Pebb’s pre-application materialsfor a proposed five story, 21-unit apartment complex on the site.
During the meeting attorney Robert Stolzman and Scot R Woodin, senior project manager for ZDS Architecture & Interiors located in Providence, presented the plans on behalf of Pebb.
Before presenting the new plans, the representatives showed the committee renderings of what the committee had previously approved, which was sided with steel and glass and would have had spots for ground-floor commercial units. This was a stark contrast to the much shorter building with brick facing and multi-story townhouses and no spaces for businesses.
Stolzman noted they had discussed the plans with community members, including the Jewelry District Neighborhood Association and plan to heed public opinions throughout the design process.
“Frankly, what brings us to this presentation is revisiting what could be done on the site that might be less controversial and more beneficial for everybody,” Stolzman said.
When designing the structure, which features mostly two- and three-bedroom apartments, Woodin noted they had done a ‘contextual analysis’ of the surrounding area that features several historic buildings to understand what would be most appropriate for the site. However, the goal was not to replicate a historic building, but to introduce something more contemporary.
One thing that stood out almost immediately was the difficulty of introducing another retail space in an area where there is already many grounds floor commercial units. So, the developers opted to propose ground floor residential units instead for which they would need a design waiver.
Committee members praised the new proposal and its overall design, with one even advising against making the building any smaller.
Now the developers will continue tweaking the design before the plans are scheduled to be presented again on Dec. 11 during a conceptual design hearing. The committee has not yet voted on the plans and no public comment taken on the proposal and people will have the chance to discuss it once a formal application has been submitted, according to the committee’s agenda.
(Update: Story recast with details from Providence Downtown Design Review Committee meeting)
Katie Castellani is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Castellani@PBN.com.
Want to share this story? Click Here to purchase a link that allows anyone to read it on any device whether or not they are a subscriber.