From the Providence Journal Metro Section
A Rebirth for Olneyville
Development of the former Providence Dyeing Bleaching & Calendaring Co. mill is aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood.
BY KAREN A. DAVIS | 01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, August 31, 2005
For many years, Olneyville had come to be thought of as a neighborhood of abandoned mill buildings, aging housing and a fleeing middle class.
It was not a place known for development. In recent years, however, the reputation has changed. Olneyville Housing and Habitat for Humanity led a campaign to renovate and build new housing.
Environmental advocates have spent many months seeking federal money to clean up and create green space around the Woonasquatucket River and to improve the parks.
Developers constructed a grocery store and shopping plaza on Valley Street and others are working farther down the street to convert an old mill into apartments and office space.
Now, a community group has teamed up with a developer to convert another old mill building into 29 live-work spaces for artists and 26,500 square feet of commercial space designed for tenants that will provide community services.
The project, dubbed The Plant, calls for the renovation of the Providence Dyeing Bleaching & Calendaring Co. building at 60 Valley St.
The project is being spearheaded by Puente – a nonprofit real estate and economic development organization – and Baltimore-based Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse Inc.
"I think this project is going to be really important" to the neighborhood's development, said Sara Struever, a Puente spokeswoman. "There was a huge effort to make this project answer to community needs and concerns."
Struever, who has family ties to Struever Bros., said the partner groups have spent the last three years working with residents, artists, architects and engineers to "create a unique vision" for a development of the mill.
The project will include green space and will be marketed to tenants that can provide valuable services to Olneyville.
For example, one of the Plant's anchors will be a kitchen incubator, which will allow caterers access to commercial kitchen space in which they can make their businesses grow.
Other tenants could include light retail or manufacturing businesses, as well as commercial business owners or tenants seeking office space, Struever said.
The project will also include event space to host fundraisers, conference and gallery shows, according to Puente officials.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the project is planned Thursday, Sept. 8, at 10 a.m. at the future home of The Plant, at Valley and Delaine streets. The project is expected to be complete in spring or summer 2006.
Puente, founded in 2003, takes its name from the Spanish word for bridge. It is based in Olneyville and aims to revitalize abandoned and underused properties to benefit the community.
The former mill building dates to 1773. It housed the dye company from 1845 to 1952. It was occupied by various tenants, including a plating company, before being abandoned. It has since been the site of several fires.
Struever, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate, said there had been talk over the years of destroying the building. But Puente aims to preserve such buildings for use by the community.
The Plant's groundbreaking Celebration has been scheduled for 10am the morning of September 10th. Gather with us at the corner of Valley and Delaine Streets to celebrate all the hard work that has happened so far and the beginning of the construction process.