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Posts Tagged ‘AS220’


Photo: Heidi Gumula/DBVW Architects
After the Mercantile Block in Providence, Rhode Island, was restored, it became a hub of activity once again.

Rhode Island in general is good at preserving historic sites, offering developers monetary assistance in the form of generous tax credits. Providence in particular has a history of successful efforts to renovate properties for new uses.

At the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Jared Foretek writes about one: “When the Providence, Rhode Island nonprofit AS220 set out to purchase its third downtown building, it knew the Mercantile Block had exactly what it was looking for. Its sheer size — 50,000 square feet, four stories, and a basement — made the 1901 structure perfect for the diverse uses the artist-run organization had in mind. There was storefront space for creative businesses, office space for local nonprofits, and room for 22 live/work studios for local artists.

“Built in 1901, the building was once the hub of a bustling commercial strip in downtown Providence [and] remained a destination until the middle of the 20th century, when the Mercantile and its surrounding neighborhood fell victim to the same economic and migratory forces that ravaged urban cores around the nation.

“The building was nearly vacant when AS220 — an organization dedicated to creating artist space in Providence since 1985 — undertook a $16.9 million rehabilitation in 2008. …

“A meticulous restoration of the building’s four-story facade by DBVW Architects has helped revitalize the entire streetscape and inspired building owners to take up rehabilitations nearby. The mixed-use redevelopment has benefited the broader community as well, with affordable storefronts for local small businesses, office space for Providence-based nonprofits, and subsidized live/work studios for artists. …

“The renovation also allowed locally owned small businesses — some long-time tenants — to lease newly desirable downtown storefronts at low cost. For a restaurant like Viva Mexico!, one of just a few Latino-owned businesses in the downtown area, affordable space with good real estate is hard to come by. …

“ ‘It’s a story that a lot of communities have. Artists live in places that are semi-legal or if they’re legal, they’re underdeveloped. And as soon as spaces become viable and interesting, artists get pushed out, and low-income people get pushed out,’ said Shauna Duffy, AS220’s Managing Director. ‘So our mission is to create these spaces and create this community. And that involves having a permanent place for artists to live affordably downtown in Providence.’ ”

More.

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Here’s my latest photo round-up.

The three cheerful and unsuspecting little pigs are hanging out at Chez Pascal in Providence. French-inspired, the restaurant features wurst and local produce. The horse dancers grace a wall of AS220, an arts powerhouse. The Roy Lichenstein POW! art is on a Rhode Island School of Design Museum banner. I think the iris-like banner is of a vase.

The “Bed Early” mural is part of a longer thought at the charming Dean Hotel. The skinny windows are just skinny windows. The fork, which I just noticed after several years of walking past, is on a Wayland Square restaurant called the Red Stripe.

Providence is not all food and fun. If anyone can tell me what church was behind the Assumption of the Virgin parade on August 7, I’d be much obliged. It was impressive. I Googled everything I could think of. I can at least tell you that the guy waving the hat is George M. Cohan at Fox Point. A king of parades, he nevertheless probably composed no music for the one I saw.

From Concord, we have a typical lichen-covered stone wall near the North Bridge, a garden ornament in the shape of a mushroom and grapes hanging on a blue fence.

Sometimes KerryCan tells me which photo she liked best. I’m always grateful for signs that someone’s reading.

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