2015-01-15 / Around Town

Several Construction Projects Moving Forward

By Barry Bridges


Initially envisioned eight years ago, the renovated St. Clare Home will house 32 skilled nursing units, 40 independent/ assisted living units, and an adult day health program. (Rendering by Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects) Initially envisioned eight years ago, the renovated St. Clare Home will house 32 skilled nursing units, 40 independent/ assisted living units, and an adult day health program. (Rendering by Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects) Three Newport building projects that have been in the planning and development stages for years are showing some momentum.

A condominium complex at 27 High Street is beginning to take shape after a period of slow going. The Parish Hall at the rear of the Hotel Viking’s Kay Chapel has not been used for any purpose since the 1970s. Plans to transform the large brick structure into seven high-end residences began to make the rounds before the city’s Historic District Commission and Zoning Board of Review back in 2010. The project, known as the “Kay Hall Lofts,” made another appearance on the docket at the most recent zoning meeting, when the board without comment extended the deadline for wrapping up the renovations.


A rendering of Kay Hall Lofts, a condominium project at 27 High Street. A rendering of Kay Hall Lofts, a condominium project at 27 High Street. Architect Melissa Hutchinson said that unforeseen circumstances have contributed to the substantial delay.

“It has been a very complicated process to say the least,” she commented. “We ran into asbestos and lead paint problems right off the bat, and remediation has taken some time.”

To meet zoning density requirements, two parking spaces per unit are required; the fourteen needed spots will be satisfied by four spaces at the abutting Viking and 10 in the basement level of the parish building itself, which has necessitated difficult construction work.

Hutchinson emphasized that notwithstanding the postponed schedule, the effort is going forward as originally designed. “We are retaining historic components, such as chimneys and the cupola, while customizing the individual condominium units to salvage as many historic features as possible,” she said. Renovations previously approved by the HDC, such as replacement windows and roof repairs, are in progress.

Work will be completed by late spring, and units are already being marketed through Newport’s Hogan Associates.

Meanwhile, a few steps away at 50 School St., the transformation of the former St. John’s Masonic Lodge into an eight-unit residential complex recently saw an administrative development.

Thomas Thramann purchased the property about 17 years ago and received the go-ahead from the Zoning Board in January of 2013 for a project that mirrors the Kay Parish Hall development. The vacant building boasts more than 13,000 square feet of space and sweeping views of Newport Harbor from its top floors. Augmenting the eight condominiums will be a basement parking garage with capacity for 10 cars. Changes to the exterior are also planned, such as new windows and thirdfloor decks that will sit within the massing of the roof.

While work appears to be at a halt, a selective demolition permit was issued by the city in October in preparation for construction. No further city approvals are needed, according to Newport Zoning Officer Guy Weston.

On nearby Spring Street, the St. Clare Home has announced that it has obtained bank financing to break ground this spring on its long-anticipated addition that will offer expanded senior services. Initially envisioned eight years ago, it will house 32 skilled nursing units, 40 independent/assisted living units, and an adult day health program. “This project brings elder care services into Newport which are currently nonexistent in the city limits, enabling seniors to age in place in their community,” the facility said in a statement.

St. Clare also highlighted that “several Aquidneck Island and Rhode Island-based companies will be utilized, including FJS Associates, Behan Brothers, and Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels Architects. Using local companies enables [us] to be extremely mindful of the community’s needs and expectations.”

In preparation for the new building, older structures on the property have been demolished. Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months and will also encompass new parking accommodations, courtyards, and a cafĂ©. St. Clare’s existing facilities will be renovated after the new addition is completed, contingent on available financing.

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