PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The Paragon Mill complex in Olneyville has been vacant for decades, but will soon serve a new purpose.
The 125,000 square foot former factory is being repurposed into 44 affordable housing units for residents under 60% Area Median Income and 57 workforce housing units for residents under 120% Area Median Income, according to the city.
Mayor Jorge Elorza said the Paragon development will create 300 jobs, provide mixed-income and affordable housing, and return “this iconic staple of our Olneyville neighborhood to its former glory with renewed purpose and equitable housing opportunities.”
“Housing in Providence has gotten to crisis mode,” Elorza said. “This is part of our investment in housing in the city and we are going to continue to invest.”
Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, when she was appointed Gov. Dan McKee’s second-in-command, noted the improvement of housing opportunities would be top of her agenda.
“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,” Matos said.
Providence City Council President John Igliozzi, who also represents the Olneyville neighborhood, called the project a “shining example of what can happen when we commit to equitable, affordable housing in our city.”
The project is supported by the Providence Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which the city recently capitalized with a $24.75M bond.
Besides apartments, 3,000 square feet of retail space is planned for the complex, as well as indoor and outdoor community spaces — including working-from-home and food preparation.
The complex, once known as the Earnscliff Woolen Company, dates back to the late 19th century next to the Woonasquatucket River. It was under ownership of the Paragon Worsted Company from 1909 until the company ceased operations in the early 1960s.
The Alexander Company, which specializes in historic preservation and urban revitalization, is in charge of the project.
“The Alexander Company is passionate about this project, which was made possible through our valued partnership with the City of Providence and RI Housing,” President Joe Alexander said. “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.”
The project is expected to be completed by summer 2022.