Iconic Olneyville Mill will be transformed into over 100 units of affordable and workforce housing
May 21, 2021
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos, City Council President John J. Igliozzi, Providence Department of Planning and Development Director Bonnie Nickerson, RI Housing Deputy Executive Director James Comer, and The Alexander Company President Joe Alexander to break ground on a 101-unit affordable and workforce housing project supported by the Providence Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“Today we breathe new life into another historic Providence landmark,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “The revitalization and transformation of Paragon Mill will create about 300 jobs while providing mixed income and affordable housing, returning this iconic staple of our Olneyville neighborhood to its former glory with renewed purpose and equitable housing opportunities.”
The 125,000 square foot former factory will be repurposed into 44 affordable housing units for residents under 60% Area Median Income (AMI) and 57 workforce housing units for residents under 120% Area Median Income, positively contributing to housing equity by catering to tenants of a variety of income backgrounds. Today’s groundbreaking follows the City’s closure of a $24.75M bond to capitalize the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which will allow for historic investments in safe, affordable, and equitable housing citywide.
“It is no secret that our state is suffering from a severe shortage of housing, and especially those that are affordable,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “The residents of Providence deserve equitable housing, and this will achieve that, along with ensuring new business. We worked so hard to find the right balance of affordable housing and commercial opportunities, and this plan achieved those goals. As Lieutenant Governor, I plan to showcase Paragon Mill as how municipalities, private, and non-profit partners can leverage dollars to create housing stock for all residents. This could not have happened if it were not for my former Council colleague, Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris, for her tireless advocacy. It was because of her that the Council was able to create a dedicated funding source for affordable housing in the City of Providence.”
The historic character of Olneyville’s industrial past will be reflected throughout the project. Paragon Mill will also feature many modern amenities, including a fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment, a club room overlooking the Woonasquatucket River with spaces for gathering, dining, working from home and food preparation, indoor and outdoor community spaces, as well as 3,000 square feet of retail space, all while preserving certain interior and exterior historic features. The entire development will also be a pet-friendly community with no breed or weight restrictions.
“The Paragon Mill project is a shining example of what can happen when we commit to equitable, affordable housing in our city,” said Council President John J. Igliozzi. “People from this neighborhood were part of the workforce that labored in textile mills like Paragon during the late 19th and early 20th centuries throughout Providence. Not only have we revitalized this historic industrial landmark, we also have created beautiful, affordable living spaces for today’s working families. I look forward to continuing this momentum with members of the City Council and Mayor Elorza to utilize the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and increase affordable living options in every part of the city.”
“The preservation and redevelopment of Paragon Mill into mixed use, mixed income development is a huge win for the Olneyville neighborhood,” said Bonnie Nickerson, City Planning Director. “This project is a great example of what can happen when we value our history and work together to repurpose our historic buildings to meeting the needs of our diverse community today.”
The Paragon Mill complex, formerly known as Earnscliff Woolen Company, represents more than sixty years of woolen spinning in the Olneyville neighborhood. Located along the Woonasquatucket River, Paragon Mill utilized the water source for worsted production – a fabric made from heated and spun yarn. In 1909, the mill was purchased by the Paragon Worsted Company and from 1921 to 1950, it expanded under the new ownership before ceasing operations in the early 1960s.
“The Alexander Company is passionate about this project, which was made possible through our valued partnership with the City of Providence and RI Housing,” said Joe Alexander, President of The Alexander Company. “We know how important it is to the community to preserve this extraordinary piece of Olneyville history, provide affordable and workforce housing opportunities, and get the lights back on at Paragon Mill.”