Another Blog

or How to Develop 2 Apartments and a bunch of Office Space with no Budget

February 16, 2011
Welcome to our new tenant, Jesse, who will occupy our storefront space left behind by Kafe Lila. Jesse is an artist who does airbrush and tattoo artwork. He will be open evenings and weekends and add a new dynamic to the Pawtucket streetscape.

July 27, 2009
The “state of the economy”... we’ve heard that term bandied about for the past few months now, the media created trailers and lead-ins that seem more like a Bruckheimer piece than news. Well, some of this doom and gloom is real, but doom and gloom seems to be a harsh word for it. Its simply the reality of a new economy.

When the country can have deficits, but states must balance the budget, the cities get an unfair shake. Undoubtably, cutting services and raising taxes to balance the budget needs to be done. What some cities do, however, seems excessive. Pawtucket has raised our commercial property taxes this coming year, and coupled with the new value assessments, the Grant’s tax burden will increase by 70%.

That, and in general, small businesses are renting less space overall. Why might this be? I think when taxes increase so dramatically, the building owner needs to raise rents. And that forces the small business to evaluate its overhead. In the micro-economy (businesses with fewer than 10 employees) rent for a space is a luxury, not a necessity. Sure, its nice to meet a client in a more-professional office, but these days, the local coffee shop is just as acceptable. Employees can tele-commute easily as well, and possibly take a pay cut, since their travel expenses will go way down.

In short, a short-sighted tax burden will diminish those businesses that are able to afford to stay where they are, forcing more of them to go “underground” and work out of the extra bedroom or the garage. That means less businesses paying rents, and fewer buildings able to pay higher taxes.

We are all in this downturn together, for sure, but we certainly don’t want to be lashed to the mast of a sinking ship, either.

April 3, 2009
I was a little incensed when i saw this article in the Projo the other day:

Pawtucket Spends Stimulus money on Skatepark

The tone seems incendiary at first, like Mr McKinney thought that he did a bit of investigative journalism and “look at those fat cats, screwing us once again”. If that was his intent, he comes off looking like a jackass after Mike Cassidy basically says, “Hey, this money is earmarked for exactly these types of projects. I know we have budget deficits, but I CAN’T spend this money any where else.”

This type of “investigative”, got-cha journalism is really getting ridiculous. It seems the same as the big hullaballo over Providence hiring an outside Providence firm to help with the City's branding campaign. Sure, an outside firm helped draft the scope and plan for the branding of the City. But that's because they have had experience doing it for many other cities. In the end, one of their recommendations was to use local firms to actually carry the plan out. Providence did nothing wrong, but boy oh boy does it make a good headline. In the end, if you know what to know, a Pawtucket-based firm designed the new orange P.

[Incidentally, this is the same crap that the national media and the House and Senate have gotten into. $165 million in bonuses for AIG sounds like we should be outraged, but after the government bailed them out with $170,000 million (the use of millions instead of billions, I think, illustrates the point much better) should make us realize that this outrage is an empty, pointless gesture, not to mention the fact that these were contracts that would have been hard to break and never should have been agreed to in the first place.]

So, BOO to you, Projo. This type of story will not go unnoticed. And hooray to you, Pawtucket, for sticking to your guns. I know this plan has been on the table for years and years, and I also know it would have surely been tabled again if it were not for this stimulus money. The kids (and adults such as myself) would love a park to go to. Judging by the comments on the Projo site as well, it seems that most people agree with me. Get those kids out from in front of the television and build them a skatepark and basketball courts. Hire local firms like Breaking Ground to do the design (they already did) and give some under-employed construction companies something to work on. This project is a win-win-win.

BTW– has anyone seen how many kids go to the North Providence park or the Olneyville/Johnston park? Last Friday was a halfway decent day, so i went to the N Prov one, and there must have been 40 to 50 kids there, exercising, skating... just happy to be outside. They’re not all vandals – they were taking turns on the ramps, egging each other one, cheering when someone landed a really cool trick. These kids deserve a place to go and hang out just as much as other kids need soccer fields and baseball diamonds.

Mar 20, 2009
Well we have jumped into the Twitter universe so come and follow us.

Mar 19, 2009
The Strange Famous show last month went off really well... so well, in fact, that I think there may be more. Stay tuned.

Feb 2, 2009
We’ve been living here for awhile now, and while it can seem a little dead downtown at night, I like it. I do anticipate more stuff happening, though, as Slater Cotton seems to be coming online soon. 128 new loft apartments within walking distance should give the downtown a shot in the arm (we hope). Also, the former Cup & Saucer storefront has paper up in it finally. That means they are working on something...

Nov 26, 2008
Even though we have known about the benefits of buying local for quite some time, now that the Lt. Governor has jumped on the bandwagon, we can say that we were ahead of the curve. So much so, in fact, that we already planned an Arts Holiday Craft Sale for December 13th this year. Come on down. Ghost Town, Hydrogen2Foxygen, Milk and Cookies, Circuit BMX will all be open, and more friends and friends of friends will fill the space with local-artist made goodies.

Oct 16, 2008
The boys from Ghost-Town Studios were interviewed bythe Boston Globe recently. Here’s a link to the article.

May 31, 2008
We got a C.O. for the apartments today... Certificate of Occupancy. So it’s official. We can live here. Now the real work of finishing the place begins...

May 6, 2008
The apartments are so close we can almost taste them... the spiral stair for my side is almost complete, and the other fire safety items are in place. Floors have their second coat on, cabinets are in, tile is up, fixtures in place, and appliances installed. Hot water is running... can’t believe it will finally be done, in time for use to move all our stuff, paint, settle in...

May 5, 2008
A local organization, PADS 02860, blogged recently about the loss of the historic tax credits and what it means to the City of Pawtucket. As the city has had more than it’s share of prospective investors ready to rehab a historic structure, it is really sad that these buildings will continue to rot. They gave us a nice shout out... Thanks guys. Maybe we can bring the credits back next year after the assembly sees how much investment was lost.

April 3, 2008
You know that scene in Hight Club when they are hitting golf balls on Paper Street and there is no one else around, not even another house? It feels like that in Pawtucket some times... and other times, it is crowded. Pawtucket is the new Olneyville, and I am not sure if the City knows that that is a compliment.

March 29, 2008
Obviously, we have made it... check out this post Ryan found on Craigslist:

scent of a lover... - w4w - 19
i smelled your fart during the black clouds set... it was so potent that i sware i was SEEING black clouds. black clouds of lust. it was the strangest thing.....as if i was breathing for the first time. someone turned to me and said “jesus christ, it smells like crumbled feta under someone’s fingernails!” but all i could think to myself was....“really?” because it was the sweetest aroma i have ever experienced. better than fresh baked muffins... or sweet tangerines... or ripe red raspberries... hot fresh pizza... please, i’m begging... i need to meet this person. male or female. i believe we could be meant for eachother. you have left me spellbound. i’ve been searching for that same scent in the most disgusting of places, but i can’t seem to find anything quite like it. my god... my... god.
* Location: the grant, pawtucket

February 13, 2008
We had a record amount of rain in the area yesterday. Something like 2 inches in an hour (the water level on the Blackstone down the street jumped from 3000 cubic feet per second to over 5000), which is dangerous. This old building suffered some leaks, for sure, and it was pretty frustrating, but not as scary as some of the roofs that have collapsed throughout the city. Or, not as frustrating as some of the brand new roofs that still sprung leaks. So all in all, I guess we were lucky.

July 30, 2007
I think we need one of these: A Build-it-Yourself Vertical Wind Turbine

June 11, 2007
Kafe Lila opened to much fanfare on Saturday. She had a great turn-out and people sampled a lot of her soon-to-be-famous ice cream. Thanks to everyone who came out. Now that the summer days are getting hotter, make sure to come over for some ice cream and take a walk down to the river to bask in the historic and creamy goodness.

May 21, 2007
Downtown Pawtucket has finally been officially listed on the National Register. Hooray! So now we have to get our paperwork in and take advantage of the tax credits...

April 15 2007
Last Thursday around 2:00pm, after 3 inches of rain in about an hour, our sewer pipe (what remained of our pipe that we didn&rsquol;t already replace) collapsed, backing sewer water (Mmmm...) into the lowest spot, Flying Shuttles’ toilet. After some tense moments and hours diverting water to the auxilliary line, and 18 hours by our contractor, Eddy and Sons (literally), digging the old pipe out on Saturday, we have PVC all the way to the city’s 24 inch main line. May we never have to deal with this $#!† again.

Meanwhile, we had a very successful closing reception for the Statewide Preservation Conference put on by the RIHPHC. We were lucky enough that they picked Pawtucket as the host city this year, never mind that they brought over 250 new people through the space. All this following a successful opening party for our newest tenant, Circuit BMX. Aside from the pipe break, it was a pretty good weekend.

The saddest part of the weekend, was NOT hearing back from the Park Service about the status of the application for a National Register district in downtown Pawtucket. We were hoping they would announce the good news at the conference. Alas, the waiting for our tax credit money continues.

February 7 2007
From the Boston Globe... it seems people are paying attention to Pawtucket.

January 23 2007
From one of our tenants, John Speck, and his Bucket Blog.

January 5 2007
Hello all. This is the first entry, technically, but we will eventuallybacktrack and provide a timeline of events that led up to this point. Right now, most, but not all, of the work is done, so there will still be plenty to talk about. But we also realized that there are plenty of other small (tiny, really) developers out there that have similar stories to tell, so we wanted to make ours known as well, because often it is the little guy that gets overlooked.

Today, I am working in my studio, and the only frustrating thing about that is the way i am a developer and also a designer when I am here. I have two jobs. And until the Grant is done, i will always be wearing those two hats. Really, that is the most frustrating part about doing a small development like this. It requires the work of a full time job, with no paycheck. At least no paycheck for the first few years. At the same time, when a neighbor walks in and they look happy to be here, well, that feels pretty good.

November 11 2006
(posted Jan 5) Jamie and I rented a truck and the Big Move began. We packed some, but not all, as we worked up until yesterday, and want to start working again on Monday. It's amazing how little it all seems to take up in the back of a big truck, and yet, there is a whole lot of stuff there. At about 5:00 we head to Stanleyburger for a good meal, and then back onto the truck to unload at the Grant. At about 11:00 we finally finished and headed over to the Ivy Tavern for a well-deserved Guinness.