Peerless Building, Providence RI

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Constructed in 1866, the Peerless Building functions as part of a group of five individual buildings— built at different times— which now collectively bears its name. This cluster of buildings nearly comprise an entire city block, a block that once was famous for housing the largest and most successful regional department stores. In 1990, the last of these stores closed its doors. The Woolworth Company continued to occupy approximately half of the ground floor until 1994 when it too closed. Until its rehabilitation, a nightclub occupied 14,000 square feet on the ground floor while the remaining 216,000 square feet sat vacant.


The building involved a complete rehabilitation, culminating in the creation of 97 loft apartments on floors two through seven. A seven-story atrium carved out of the building’s core created a vibrant ground floor retail space while bringing light into the residential units. Sixty-seven parking spaces were also installed on the basement level. The developer strove to make each loft apartment distinctive, with open floor plans that enable the tenant to customize the interior to suit his/her style and needs. Design features include high ceilings, exposed columns, sliding wooden doors separating kitchens from living space, and frosted glass windows to admit natural light from the atrium while maintaining privacy.


The National Trust Community Investment Corporation provided a portion of its New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) allocation to Chevron TCI, the historic tax credit investor, resulting in a combined $11.5 million federal/state historic and NMTC investment. The NMTC component represents approximately 25% more equity to the project than provided by the historic tax credits alone.


The economic impact of the project is significant, in addition to the obvious cultural value in redeveloping a site that occupies such a prominent place in the city’s downtown, and in the retail history of the city. The project lies within a low income census tract, making the rehabilitation of the Peerless Building an important source of economic development.