The News Service
Plan for Strategic Growth
Brown To Purchase 121 South Main, Former Old Stone Bank Building
Brown University has agreed to purchase 121 South Main Street, the former Old Stone Square. The building, at the foot of College Hill and convenient to University units in the Jewelry District, has 11 floors of commercial space. The University will manage the facility as a fully taxable commercial property and will honor all leases for the foreseeable future.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. —As part of its Plan for Strategic Growth, Brown University has agreed to purchase 121 South Main Street, a 160,000 gross-square-foot office building at the foot of College Hill in Providence. The 11-story building, constructed by the Old Stone Corporation in 1984, includes retail and office space and a 160-space parking garage.
The 121 South Main facility offers high-quality, flexible space that the University can easily adapt to its needs in the near term and longer term, said Richard Spies, executive vice president for planning and senior advisor to the president. It is within walking distance of the University’s historic campus and offers convenient access to University units in the Jewelry District and to Brown Medical School’s largest affiliated hospital.
The University will continue to operate the facility as a mixed-use Class-A commercial office building. Brown will honor existing leases and will pay full property taxes on the facility for the foreseeable future, Spies said.
If at some future time the University chooses to convert the building to predominantly academic use, it will begin the 15-year transition process from commercial to tax-exempt University space outlined and agreed upon in its June 7, 2003, memorandum of agreement with the city.
As Brown continues to implement its Plan for Academic Enrichment, its space requirements continue to grow, both on the historic campus and beyond, said Rebecca Barnes, Brown’s director of strategic growth. “Our challenge is to ensure that suitable spaces will be available when they are needed. 121 South Main Street gives the University increased flexibility as it plans to meet its evolving needs for space.”
As space becomes available in the building, the University will begin to relocate some of its academic and administrative units there. The ground floor will continue to support retail activities, including the Hemenway Sea Food restaurant.
The University’s offer to purchase the property for $31.5 million was accepted on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2005, by Morris & Morse, asset managers for Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Co., the building’s owners.
121 South Main Street
Originally constructed as Old Stone Square in 1984, the building was designed by internationally renowned architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, whose work includes the IBM corporate headquarters in Manhattan, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building in Washington, and the IBM World Trade Center in Mount Pleasant, N.Y. The property was purchased by the Providence Washington Insurance Co. in 1992, after Rhode Island’s banking crisis, and was subsequently sold to Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Co. in December 2001, at which time the facility was renamed 121 South Main Street.
The building offers 142,000 net square feet of usable space in 11 stories, abutting the Providence River and the city’s central business district. The floors are serviced by three elevators.
The Plan for Strategic Growth
In February 2005, the Brown Corporation endorsed recommendations that the University undertake a major initiative to secure options for campus expansion beyond what is available on College Hill. Brown’s emerging Plan for Strategic Growth will ensure that the University will have suitable space to support its planned investments in a larger faculty, in the continued development of Brown Medical School, in its rapidly growing Program in Public Health, and in its steadily increasing research activities in the life sciences. As part of that effort, the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, at 70 Ship St. in the Jewelry District, began operations in August 2004.
“To some degree, opportunities will drive the timing of our Plan for Strategic Growth,” Spies said. “A large block of class-A office space so close to Brown’s College Hill campus was a rare opportunity that will expand the University’s options for growth over time. Purchase of such existing high-quality properties is far more efficient than new construction.”
Brown will continue to evaluate its options, Spies said, and will continue to evaluate areas which might suit its strategic plans and requirements.