By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer
Richard Baccari II became vice president of development at Churchill & Banks in 2001.The firm, founded by his father, has built and redeveloped buildings across the Providence area including the Lincoln Mall in Lincoln, Coro Center in Providence, Eagle’s Nest condominiums in East Greenwich and Stop & Shop Street and the recently demolished Fuller Iron Works buidling at 40 Tockwotton St.. Baccari took a few minutes to talk about his vision for the land.distribution center in Freetown. Baccari is now focused on developing a series of Fox Point properties near South Main Street and the old Interstate 195 ramps, including 39 Pike .
PBN: What first made you interested in buying 39 Pike Street and 40 Tockwotton Street?
BACCARI: 40 Tockwotton St. (the abandoned purple mill building) was very visible from Interstate 195 and South Main Street. The site always screamed to me that something needed to be redeveloped there. The location, near Al Forno restaurant and South Water Street, is a vibrant place for nightlife and offers access to the waterfront from the East Side, Fox Point and Downtown, which is an important part of our city. This block, from Pike Street to Tockwotton Street was a visual and physical barrier to a great part of Providence. Once the old I-195 was removed, I pursued the owner to purchase the building as I could see the increased potential with the vacant I-195 land adjacent to this site. The 39 Pike Street building (also known as 566 South Main Street) has great bones and really is an attractive building for any type of user.
PBN: Can you describe some of the history of the buildings?
BACCARI: The buildings were constructed circa 1900 when the properties were being used by the Fuller Iron Works and the J.B. Gurney & Co. Lumber Yard. Fuller Iron Works was in existence until 1938. Since that time the property has been home to multiple office users, a gym, a self storage facility, a milk bottling company, contracting companies, and a restaurant. Since the 1970s through the early 2000s the property was a nightclub called Big Daddy’s. The upper level of 40 Tockwotton St. was never renovated from when the Iron Works company left in 1938.
PBN: What is happening in 39 Pike St. now and what are your plans for it?
BACCARI: I have just completed the majority of the renovations to the 39 Pike St./566 South Main St. building. Swipely, a local start-up company which is growing by leaps and bounds, has leased the first and second floor of this building and loves the space. The lower level is about to open as Vanity Lounge and restaurant which will be the hottest new venue in Providence this spring. The building has a new roof, elevator and HVAC system, updated common areas and a new parking lot. The third floor is for lease right now but won’t be available for long.
PBN: When demolition is finished, what is your vision for 40 Tockwotton?
BACCARI: I envision the kind of place that urban dwellers dream exist in Providence: Living in a new environmentally-conscious building set between the waterfront, downtown and historic east side, with parking, shopping, health and wellness services and the country’s top restaurants within the building and across the street. My plan is not only to develop 40 Tockwotton but to try to create a whole new vision for this area down to the waterfront. Since the old I-195 has been removed, we now have a blank canvass to create a new neighborhood in Providence. My vision is to integrate housing, retail and office into one sophisticated project that will have a positive impact on our economy and existing Fox Point neighborhood and all the surrounding businesses.
PBN: When you imagine Fox Point 15 or 20 years from now, what do you see?
BACCARI: I see the best part of Providence. Beyond what I’m working on right now, I see that the access to the waterfront becomes better and more active. We tend to think of open space in Rhode Island as passive space where people can picnic and throw a Frisbee around. I would like to see the waterfront become a destination for all types of venues; open markets, festivals, art installations, concerts, a marina and meeting space. India Point Park has great potential beyond what currently exists but it will take a lot of collaboration, flexibility and determination to make it all work.