111 Westminster lit at night by Flickr user kehuston

I was pretty disappointed, but not surprised, that Bank of America has chosen to leave 111 Westminster Street. The building is an iconic anchor to downtown Providence. Unfortunately, this space has not been properly refurbished to more modern standards. The entire building has a single, antiquated utilities system– heating, cooling, electricity, etc are all setup for a single tenant. Weighing in at 350,000 square feet, there is simply no one in Providence who needs an old, out of date workspace of that size. Renovations, at this point, are likely to be very expensive, although environmental advocates and businessmen alike should unite around refurbishing over new construction.

Downtown Providence 1 has no shortage of vacant space. Saving 111 Westminster is going to take creative thinking and substantial investment. Fortunately, there is no better time since the Arcade is undergoing some exciting changes. 2

Because of the near perfect alignment of 111 Westminster and the Arcade, I’d love to see some true, deep collaboration that rethinks the area on Westminster Street between Exchange and Dorrance Streets 3. Activating this space at the street level will be a huge boon to the Arcade, 111 Westminster, and the success of Downtown as a whole. I’ve got a handful of ideas, but I lack the skills to make beautiful pictures to make my visions tangible.

So I’m going to just have to hope that Greater City: Providence recognizes this as the opportunity for a new Reboot, my personal favorite work on the site. In their words,

REBOOT is an occasional series of posts on Greater City: Providence where we identify areas of the city that display poor urbanism and propose ways to improve them. Our interventions may be simple and quite easily realized, or they may at times be grand and possibly take years or decades to complete. Either way, we hope they generate interest and discussion.

Past Reboot’s have featured the Providence Train Station and Olneyville Square, among others. Let’s Reboot 111 Westminster and the Arcade, and the whole area east of Dorrance 4.

The original title of this post was unintentionally, overly similar to GCPVD’s post on this issue. I recognized this oversight independently and have edited the title.

  1. I am desperately trying to drop “Downcity” in favor of “Downtown” after training myself to say Downcity. ↩︎

  2. I know I’ve been cranky about the Arcade plans, but I think that’s more about my general mood than the merits of the redevelopment. It could work, and if it does, it will be very exciting for Downtown. ↩︎

  3. I’d love to see traffic closed along both Weybosset and Westminster from Memorial Boulevard down to Dorrance. ↩︎

  4. And 110 Westminster, while we’re at it, the massive condo tower-turned parking lot ↩︎