Province, Rhode Island has a sizzling new development in a beautiful old building.
When it was constructed 188 years ago, the Arcade Providence was America’s first shopping mall, hosting boutiques on all three floors. Now those shops have been converted into 48 small apartments and a mix of businesses, including restaurants, a coffee shop, and a new hair salon.
Redesigned by Northeast Collaborative Architects, the three-floor building boasts classic Greek architecture, pillars, stone walls, and a large central atrium illuminated by skylights.
The restoration transformed the top two floors of stores into micro-apartments, ranging from 225 to 775 square feet, and priced from $800 to $1,800 a month. Most measure 300 square feet or smaller. For example, a standard one-car garage is approximately 200 square feet.
And NCA Principal Michael Abbot tells Business Insider that their tenants only need to show up with two suitcases, and they’re good to go.
Micro apartments have increased in popularity to accommodate the increasing amount of single people moving to cities, and the amount of Americans who live alone has grown steadily since the 1920s.
In the past 90 years, single-person households have gone from 5 per cent to 27 per cent of the US total.
At the Providence Arcade, each fully furnished micro space includes an elevated bed over a four-drawer dresser, a small kitchen table, a sofa, a 50-inch flatscreen TV, and a full bathroom. More spacious apartments don’t come with a built-in bed.
Providence Arcade developer Evan Granoff told Fair Companies that the studio size apartments feature an open plan, with no full wall between the bedroom and kitchen. A door for the bedroom would violate Providence’s housing code because it would create a sleeping space that the city considers too small.
The kitchens are equipped with a mini-fridge, sink, dishwasher, and microwave — but no ovens or stovetops.
In a recent tour video by Fair Companie’s Kirsten Dirksen, a new tenant said that she didn’t mind not having an oven. Since she’s doing a fellowship in international emergency medicine, so she doesn’t spend much time in her apartment, and she eats a lot of Lean Cuisines and canned soups.
The complex lies in the centre of downtown Providence, so tenants theoretically could simply eat out for meals they can’t zap in the microwave. The architects also preserved the central atrium as a space for shops, bars and restaurants.
And Abbott said that not only does it (the central atrium) give filtered light to the units, but it becomes the public street connecting neighbours.
On the first floor, there’s a common room with a TV, seating and laundry room, and on the second floor, there’s storage space to store bikes or keep other belongings that don’t fit in the apartments.
The building had numerous lives before the micro-apartments.
Approximately 250 of the original windows were covered with cement over the years, but NCA restored all of them.
The mall, once called the Westminster Arcade, was built in 1828 and was the first indoor shopping mall in the US. Operating only two hours a day from 11 am to 1 pm, it featured a food court and boutiques by local merchants who hoped to sell to a growing suburban population, but in 1976, it was declared a National Historic Landmark.