University News

Construction, relocations, vacancies change Thayer’s landscape

Construction of luxury apartments has displaced some Thayer businesses but vacancies remain

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 3, 2013

Ben and Jerry’s has relocated to a more visible and accessible location on Thayer. The changes currently happening on Thayer are unrelated to a developing plan that will more broadly revamp the Thayer Street area.

As plans to revitalize Thayer Street continue to develop, commercial changes are already affecting students.

Almost a year after the Tedeschi Food Shop shut its doors, its former storefront remains vacant. The owners posted a sign on their door indicating they “lost (their) lease” and declined to give more information to The Herald at the time of the closure.

Capstone Properties, the property management company in charge of the vacant space, is still “scouting for potential businesses” to occupy it, said Robin Remy, executive director of the Thayer Street District Management Authority.

The vacant storefront is “a huge target for graffiti,” and the TSDMA has tried to remove the graffiti and make the space appear “presentable,” Remy said.

Many students said they are frustrated with the continuing vacancy. “It’s kind of an eyesore,” said Radhika Rajan ’15.

And some, like Jarred Turner ’16, expressed surprise that the vacancy had not yet been filled. “That space could be utilized very productively,” he said.

Kailani Acosta ’16 said she would like to see the space filled with a grocery store like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

There is currently no new information on the progress of the search for a business to fill the empty storefront, Remy said, and Capstone Properties could not be reached for comment.

New developments have meanwhile sprung up elsewhere along Thayer. Ben and Jerry’s is moving from its former location at 237 Meeting St. to 224 Thayer St. and should open by Nov. 1, co-owner Lorell Ferri said. She added that she is excited to open for business on Thayer, where she expects the store to have more visibility and foot traffic. The shop remains under the same management as before, but the new location will have major upgrades, Ferri said, adding that, “Everything will be … brand new.”

Ben and Jerry’s former Meeting Street storefront was one of several buildings — including Sahara Hookah and Squires Salon — that closed over the summer to allow for the construction of a luxury apartment complex for students, The Herald previously reported. The apartment buildings were designed to complement and blend in with existing architecture in the College Hill area, according to the website of the developer, Gilbane Development Company.

The complex is expected to be completed by 2014.

Ben and Jerry’s new address, 224 Thayer St., formerly housed Symposium Books, which closed in late May. The owners have consolidated the Thayer Street store with their other location downtown at 240 Westminster St., expanding hours and making updates to the shop in accordance with the move, according to Symposium’s website.

Students generally expressed enthusiasm about the new Ben and Jerry’s location. Jacqueline Anton ’16 said that while the closing of Symposium Books was “kind of sad,” she is excited about the ice cream store’s closer location.

“It’s dangerous because we’re going to go there all the time,” joked Acosta.

Just down the street, the strip currently housing eateries such as Froyo World and Better Burger Company has a new landlord, according to a June 4 Providence Business News article. AM Enterprises LLC bought the space from Jonowika Realty Corp. for $2.8 million, a $761-per-square-foot price tag, the Journal reported.

“From what I see, it hasn’t affected us,” said Froyo World manager Andrea Baca, adding she could not go into details at this time about the change.

Gemini Bar and Grill, which was previously reviewed in The Herald, replaced Spice, a popular restaurant near the corner of Thayer and Waterman streets. Students expressed mixed opinions about Spice and varying degrees of disappointment at its closure. Anton said she would miss the Thai bistro, while Turner said he had never gone and had not heard good reviews of it.

“I feel like it used to be nicer,” Rajan said of the Thayer Street area. “I got kind of tired of Thayer after first semester freshman year.”

Thayer will likely see more updates, as the Thayer Street Planning Study committee continues to develop a vision for the area’s future.

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  • reguru

    Why is the BDH so sure it is luxury housing? Has the BDH investigated other types of housing projects near Universities that Gilbane has constructed elsewhere in the country? Is the rental rate going to be a luxury rate comparable to luxury housing elsewhere in the City?

  • Wow

    A Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s in the old Tedeshi? ROFL! First off, there are not one but two Whole Foods within a mile of Thayer. Second, neither company would ever in a billion years try to open a store in such a small space. I have a hard time even putting into words how absurd the idea is.