The city’s 19th-century mills appeared on the Most Endangered Properties List in 2001 as a collection of historic resources located throughout the City suffering from deferred maintenance, high vacancy rates, and development pressures. In 2001 alone, Providence witnessed the destruction by fire of both the vacant Steere Mill complex and the Louttit Laundry, the demolition of the Silver Spring Bleaching & Dyeing Mill to make way for a Home Depot, and an ongoing struggle to save the Eagle Square Mills. Although a large percentage of the City’s historic mill buildings have been successfully redeveloped, vacant and neglected mill buildings, vestiges of Providence’s industrial past, remain targets for demolition.
SAVED: A movement to enact mill redevelopment reform for adaptive reuse grew across the City and State in the early 2000s. The Industrial and Commercial Buildings District (ICBD), a local zoning overlay, was passed by City Council in the spring of 2002. The Preservation Society completed a survey of over 200 industrial and commercial buildings in the city. The information contained in this report will aid planners, developers, preservationists, and others to successfully maintain, redevelop, and rehabilitate these buildings. It is currently on file at PPS.
In a further effort to encourage the rehabilitation of these structures, a law was passed making industrial buildings eligible for a 30 percent tax credit. As of February, 2019, there are no local or state tax incentives available for mill building revitalization. The ICBD was incorporated into the Providence Landmarks District during the adoption of the 2014 zoning rewrite.
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