PROVIDENCE — Providence Living, a local boutique real estate firm, has purchased the building and adjacent parking lot that once held Club Karma for $1.6 million from Johnson & Wales University.
The lot, which has stood vacant since before the university purchased the property in 2015 for nearly the same price, is located at 101 Richmond St. in the city’s Jewelry District. The property was assessed for nearly $1.83 million in 2020, according to city records.
Dustin Dezube, owner of Providence Living, told the Globe the company purchased the building itself for $500,000. Dezube said he plans to submit permits for the building soon, to transform it into a “brand-new” mixed-use space with two retail storefronts on the first floor and 19 residential units throughout.
“I’m a JWU alum and always admired that building, so for me, it’s come full circle,” said Dezube, who is hoping to start construction within two months. The work will be done by Providence Realty Development LLC, and finish in “about 20 months.” Providence Architecture, which Dezube co-owns with architect Kevin Diamond, is in charge of the design.
Dezube said they are working with a veteran bar owner who has restaurants in Boston and Rhode Island that will fill one of the retail spaces and feature a large outdoor patio. Dezube declined to name the person or company that will fill the first retail space, but said he’s still looking for tenants for the second storefront.
“I’m picturing a small coffee shop to go inside the right side of the building,” he said.
Twelve apartments will be located on the second floor and seven will be on the first floor behind the storefronts. One-bedroom apartments will range in price from about $1,575 to $1,850 and two-bedrooms will run from $1,575 to $2,200. Parking will also be available on nearby Friendship Street.
“Everything is going to be brand new,” said Dezube, who said the apartments will target young professionals. “In my opinion, they’ll have very nice, high-end, and thoughtful finishes. And this is a historic preservation, so we are being time-appropriate.”
According to city records, the building was constructed in 1900, and Dezube said they are preserving the exterior facade, recreating period-appropriate windows, and rebuilding the tin ceilings.
“The apartments will have a boho-vibe, but still be contemporary,” he said. They’ve tightened their budget plans to “about $3 million.”
City records show the building currently has nearly 12,900 square feet of living space, not including a 6,400 square-foot basement, with two stories. The plans for the basement are still in the works, said Dezube, which could feature amenities for the apartments’ tenants.
Six years ago, Dallas-based development firms Lincoln Property Co. and Phoenix Property Co. proposed a $60 million student housing development for the area but the plans fell through in August 2015.
Stephen Beranhaum, a Cranston resident and the property’s owner, had sold the property to JWU in 2015 after he and his family owned it for many years.
“It was just time. I’m 77 years old now. It was the natural thing to do,” he told the Globe recently. He said JWU approached him, and purchased the property.
The property’s parking lot, which included 25 spaces, was used to accommodate staff and guests as needed. Building additional student housing for the university wasn’t being considered at the time, but classrooms, a student center, or a gymnasium were all options. But the university never ended up using, or developing, the building.
Katherine Hypolite-MacMannis, a JWU spokeswoman, said Monday, “Since 2015, our physical campus needs have changed.”
Prior to the sale, Club Karma was the site of an indoor double shooting in January 2014. The city’s Licensing Board shut down the nightclub permanently when the shooting wounded two Massachusetts gang members. The club was owned by former State Representative Peter Petrarca and local restaurant mogul Gianfranco Morrocco.
Various other nightclubs and bars were also located at 101 Richmond St. prior to it becoming Club Karma, such as The Spot (or Spot Underground), which was a music venue, Club Elements, Level II, and The Keg Room.