Redevelopment of historic factory into apartments with ‘green grocer’ gets zoning approval

GREEN CASTLE PROPERTIES LLC plans to renovate a historic former jewelry factory building at 472 Potters Ave. in Providence into affordable housing with a “green grocer” on the first floor. / COURTESY PROVIDENCE CITY PLAN COMMISSION

PROVIDENCE – Owners of a historic, former factory building at 472 Potters Ave. in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood are planning to convert the property into affordable housing, with a “green grocer” on the ground floor offering “farm fresh produce” at a discount for tenants.

Owners Catherine Dean and Randy White, who run Green Castle Properties LLC, received approval on Jan. 18 from the City Plan Commission for the rezoning of the 0.77-acre property from an R-3 zone to C-2, after the request was referred to the commission by the City Council, enabling the project to go forward.

Dean and White said they plan to renovate the three-story, 27,000-square-foot brick mill building, which was constructed in 1892, into a multifamily development.

White, who called the building an “eyesore” in the neighborhood for many years, said they plan to renovate the existing structure into 37 to 40 apartments, and create about 20 others in a new structure on the site, consisting of one- and two-bedroom apartments, with about 40 to 50 affordable apartments. White said there would be “sufficient” parking for everyone who lived there.

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The two, who purchased the property in 2018 for $255,000, said the first floor would be a commercial space for a “small green grocer” so “tenants will be able to purchase farm fresh product at reduced prices” without leaving the building.

“This may increase their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, thereby promoting health,” Dean and White said in a letter to the commission.

The building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant for 12 years, but before that it was the home for businesses involved with light manufacturing, laundry and jewelry, namely W. J. B. & Co., the business of William Braitsch, the original co-owner, who was an award-winning silversmith for Tiffany & Co.

The William J. Braitsch and Co. Plant, as the property is called, produced “silver and gold cane and umbrella heads and manufactured wooden walking sticks to which the elaborate heads were affixed,” according to its entry in the National Register of Historic Places.

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

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