Six weeks after work began on the site of two planned residence halls on Brook Street, demolition of existing properties on the sites is now underway.
A house located at 247 Brook St. was demolished and removed the week of Nov. 15, according to Paul Deitel, assistant vice president for planning, design and construction. Two houses on Charlesfield Street will be demolished next week, and removal of a mini-mall structure that used to house businesses including Bagel Gourmet and East Side Mini Mart will begin the week after, as long as the University obtains demolition permits from the City of Providence.
“I anticipate removal of all existing structures to be complete by early January, with excavation for foundations to follow closely behind that,” Deitel wrote in an email to The Herald, though he added that the timeline may be subject to change based on when utilities are disconnected at the properties.
The planned residence halls will sit on either side of Brook Street between Charlesfield and Power streets and will house 350 students once completed. The dorm on the east side of Brook Street will abut Barbour Hall, while the structure on the opposite side will border Vartan Gregorian Quad.
The dorms are planned to open in time for the start of the fall 2023 semester, and will house juniors and seniors, according to the Facilities Management website.
The project faced fierce opposition from community stakeholders, who objected to the size of the structure and the removal of retail space for businesses, as well as other aspects of the plan, The Herald previously reported. A group of stakeholders requested that the University make multiple changes to the plan this summer and circulated a petition to support such changes — the University reintroduced retail space to the dorm in response, but rejected the other changes.
The University’s construction management firm Dimeo Construction began to mobilize the construction site Oct. 18, Deitel wrote, and the first several weeks of work involved “setting up the field offices, running temporary utilities, installing construction fencing, traffic controls and construction wayfinding signs” and capping utilities in the buildings to be demolished. The University closed sidewalks on Brook Street next to the construction site and restricted traffic to one lane northbound.
Workers on the site are also currently removing asphalt from a parking lot next to Barbour Hall, which will make space for the foundation of the new building.
Work on the site begins at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on Saturdays, and Deitel wrote that construction is being conducted in compliance with Providence noise ordinances.
According to Senior Construction Manager Jay Sisson, there are approximately 15 workers currently on the site, which is “not fully mobilized.” When the new buildings are being erected, Sisson estimated there will be 150 to 170 workers onsite.
Currently, the University is conducting a procurement effort to find workers for the site. Sisson said there have not been hiring challenges and trade unions have been able to “appropriately resource the project.”
Supply chain issues are “definitely a challenge,” Sisson added. Production of raw materials needed on the site, including drywall and certain resins, was disrupted by the record freeze in Texas in February and the effects are still being felt.
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the University rejected all the changes to the Brook Street dorm requested by community stakeholders. In fact, the University reintroduced retail space to the dorm plan in response to the request. The Herald regrets the error.