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Procaccianti Group unveils its design
At 356 feet tall, or about 31 stories, the proposed hotel tower next to The Westin Providence is being designed to make a statement.
The hotel and condo tower The Procaccianti Group is planning to attach to the Westin will include 105 condominiums, 200 hotel rooms, a parking garage for residents and an arcade filled with restaurants and shops on the first floor, according to a presentation by the Cranston company's architectural firm yesterday.
The Procaccianti Group is in the process of buying the state-owned Westin for $95.5 million and expects to close on the sale by April 27. In order to buy the hotel from the state, though, Procaccianti is required to add additional rooms to the Westin -- expanding the state's ability to host conventions.
The rooms will be built in the proposed tower and in a shorter building on the grass-and-tree-covered park next to the downtown hotel. The shorter building – about 149 feet high – will connect the current, domed entrance to the Westin with the new hotel high-rise. The tower and the connecting building will dramatically change the way drivers and pedestrians view the corner of Francis Street, Memorial Boulevard and West Exchange Street.
"We see it as an extremely important project for the city," said Duncan Pendlebury, president of Jung Brannen Associates Inc., of Boston.
Yesterday, the Design Review Committee of the Capital Center Commission got an early look at the tower's dimensions and designs during Procaccianti's first design workshop with the committee. Since the piece of land the tower will be built on is considered a part of the capital center district -- a special development zone in front of the State House -- the committee must approve the building's design before it can go forward.
The company and its architect will be back in front of the committee for more discussion in two weeks, since Procaccianti wants the panel to waive a number of design requirements. For example, the city wants buildings in the capital center area to be between 200 feet and 300 feet tall. At 356 feet, the proposed tower is 58 feet higher than the existing Westin hotel tower. The company is eager to get through the design review process since the state has required Procaccianti to finish the hotel tower by July 2007.
Yesterday, though, the committee kept its feedback fairly positive. "You should leave here feeling that the committee is in favor of what you are presenting here," said Wilfrid Gates, chairman of the Design Review Committee and a landscape architect.
The proposed tower and the shorter connector building will both be red brick, matching the existing brick on the Westin, and have gabled roofs. But the tall tower will feature a concrete accent running up the sides. It will also have balconies for the condos, and larger penthouse balconies for the top floors. Also, the company has proposed making the side of the building facing Francis Street a pedestrian mecca that provides people with a covered walkway up the outside to access shops and cafes.
There will be "a slight and subtle distinction that shows it's a new building," said Michael Voccola, director of business development for the developer. "When the dust settles we'd like this to look like it was built at the same time," as the existing Westin building.
The building's look, however, could change dramatically through the design review process. The Procaccianti Group is expected to come back before the Design Review Committee for another public workshop on April 21.
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