Robert C. Lamoureux is seeking Planning Board and City Council approval of one of the city’s larger single-family and condominium developments since the recession took the wind out of the housing market five years ago.
Lamoureux plans to raze 24 cottages and a store on Narragansett Parkway and build five single-family homes and six condominiums on the 2.5-acre site.
“It’s been kind of an eyesore for sometime,” Lamoureux said of the enclave tucked between the parkway and the bay in the shadow of Narragansett Village condominiums. The area has the feel of a summer beach community with cottages squeezed between one another, narrow roads and common parking areas.
Lamoureux bought the cottages and the store in 2007. He leases them now.
But that would change if Lamoureux and his company, Centerville Builders, gain approval of his plan.
While Lamoureux said the housing market has not fully rebounded, he said there is a market for new homes near Pawtuxet.
“The economy is slowly clawing its way back,” he said. “There’s a demand to be near historic Pawtuxet and they want the convenience of a new home, too.”
The site is within walking distance of the village, parks and marinas. It is also not far from Providence, which Lamoureux said is a plus for people who work in the city yet want the feel of living in the suburbs.
“We’re trying to do something upscale,” Lamoureux said of the development that is expected to come before the Planning Board for master plan consideration next month.
As he is proposing to build condominiums, Lamoureux will need council approval for the condos or planned unit development. Coastal Resources Management Council approval is needed because of the proximity of the upper bay.
June Langevin spent the early years of her life in the area. Her parents had a house in Warwick Downs, now Narragansett Village, and her grandmother, Elizabeth Payette, lived across the street. She remembers walking to the beach and her father, John Barrett, ice fishing on the bay.
“My uncle was a strong swimmer,” Langevin said, recalling the family story of how James Barrett learned that there were some storm windows that were up for grabs at a house across the bay near Crescent Park. James swam one window at a time across the bay, she said.
Ada Aubin Gonya, who grew up in the downs, remembers calling the area owned by Lamoureux as “Swedish village.”
“You walk out the door 50 feet and you were in the water,” she said.
As a young girl, she explored most of the upper bay in a skiff powered by a 10-horse outboard. On one crossing of the channel, in a race to get home by a 4 p.m. curfew, she decided she could make it in front of a tanker under power. Her passengers, all girls, started screaming and crying, figuring they were going to be hit. The tanker frantically blew its horn, yet the girls held their course. The bow wave swept them clear and they spun in the tanker’s wake.
Ada’s father, who watched the episode from shore, reminded her she had risked the lives of others and grounded her.
“Swedish Village” is zone A-7, which allows for houses to be built on 7,000-square-foot lots. Lamoureux is not seeking any variances from the code for the development.
City Planner William DePasquale said the development is fully conforming and that it is “well under the density” allowed by zoning.
Lamoureux recently outlined the proposal at a neighborhood meeting. He also said tenants of the cottages have been informed and know that, should the project be approved, they would need to move. There has not been any concerted opposition to the development as best the Beacon could determine.
As an example of the houses planned, Lamoureux pointed to the single-family homes he built closer to the village and bordering Pettis Marina about six years ago. He said the homes would be in keeping with the style of Pawtuxet properties.
Lamoureux estimated the cost of the project at $5 million. He expects single-family houses will sell in the range of $400,000 and the condos at $600,000. He aims to start the project as soon as he gains the required approvals.