PROVIDENCE – Cornish Associates has purchased the Kinsley Building on Westminster Street in downtown Providence with the intention of redeveloping its offices into apartments.
The development company led by Arnold “Buff” Chase Jr. purchased the five-story building at 334 Westminster St. from Johnson & Wales University at the end of August for $1.2 million, according to a deed filed with the city.
Steve Durkee, principal at Cornish Associates, said in the Kinsley Building the company sees an opportunity to “extend the Westminster Street experience” that it created a few blocks away at the Westminster Lofts.
Preliminary plans for the Kinsley Building call for 44 apartments in the upper floors with shops and or restaurants at ground level.
Unlike most of the residential properties in downtown targeting the luxury market, Durkee said the Kinsley Building would be “workforce-style” housing, with smaller units around 600 square feet. Rents have not been set yet, but Durkee said they would be comfortably below $2,000 per month.
Cornish’s acquisition of the building coincides with the reactivation of Rhode Island’s historic tax credit program this summer, and Durkee said the project was one of 31 to secure credits at the state’s August lottery.
He said the total project cost, including purchase, is estimated at about $10 million, with rehabilitation expenses making up two-thirds of that cost. The historic tax credits are worth up to 25 percent of a project’s qualified rehabilitation expenses, which would put Kinsley credits somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.
The building, which Johnson & Wales used for administrative offices, has been empty for at least the last five years. Workers have been cleaning out the building in the last few weeks.
Since the building was owned by a nonprofit, the city has not been collecting taxes on it, but that will change with Cornish’s acquisition.
Exactly how much Cornish pays on the building has yet to be determined, as the company is negotiating with the city on a tax stabilization agreement.
Durkee said pending an agreement on the property tax issue, Cornish hopes to start work on the Kinsley Building early in 2014.