TOWERING ABOVE: The renovated first-floor resident lounge in One Regency Plaza, part of the downtown apartment complex’s $14.5 million, five-year capital improvement project completed this past summer.
Many Providence apartment buildings have been built, bought, sold, condominium-converted, unconverted, or refashioned into dormitories since the first Regency Plaza tower was erected in 1968.
Through it all, the Regency has remained focused on an upscale downtown rental market that sees proximity to the Financial District, Interstate 95 and Downcity entertainment options as essential.
But even a well-positioned building needs steady investments and upgrades to stay current and compete for tenants.
So Regency Plaza’s owners, Chestnut Hill Realty of Brookline, Mass., and Richard Lappin, president of LISCO Development, in 2007 embarked on a $14.5-million, five-year complex-wide capital plan completed this past summer.
It was a sizable investment to begin just as the regional and local real estate market was crashing, but one based on confidence that long-term demand for downtown apartments will continue to grow.
“We see this as part of the rejuvenation of downtown,” said Lappin. “Since this building was built, a lot of folks moved out of downtown because the suburbs are so accessible. But then in the last 10 years many have moved back in. This is all part and parcel of becoming competitive with other newer apartment complexes within the city.”
While cultural and demographic shifts may be pushing more residents downtown, competition for their rent is also increasing from a mix of newer high-rises and converted commercial spaces.
These competitors include, among others, Waterplace, the Promenade, the 903 Residences, the Westminster Lofts and Avalon at Center Place. In the near future they will be joined by apartments in the renovated Arcade and former Providence Gas Company buildings.
At the center of the improvement project is an expansion of the property’s common areas and recreational amenities.
The hub of the three-building complex is its largest, oldest and most distinctive building, One Regency Plaza, where management and building services are located.
Since Chestnut Hill bought Regency Plaza in 1986, they have been reorganizing and expanding the first-floor lobby and the latest round of renovations included building a new glass entry foyer that widened and brightened the area. All of the finishes in the lobby and the first floor were redone with dark wood, glass, new carpets and tiles to give it a polished, contemporary, hotel-like feel.