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Luxury Lofts Coming to Downtown Newport

A luxury loft project is coming to downtown Newport on a block that has seen a resurgence in recent years.

First, the popular Carabello Coffee expanded on the corner of 9th and Monmouth Streets, and then the new Industry Salon transformed an historic building on the other end of the block at 9th and Saratoga Streets. Next comes the L&N Lofts.

"There's something about - the energy, the investment, the visionaries in that area there. It will be a good presence to build upon," said Nathan Myers, the architect and developer with Bauhaus Development.

Myers said Tuesday at the Newport planning & zoning meeting where he was seeking a zone change from residential to central business district that the project would likely have 8 luxury lofts, six with one bedroom, and two with two bedrooms. There would also be a small commercial space on the street level.

It was referenced during the meeting on Tuesday, that the project could end up with 12 residential units and no commercial space, but the first outcome seemed more likely.

The project will require the demolition of three historic buildings on the corner, which are not protected by an overlay zone. The L&N Lofts will feature a very contemporary design and the project, Myers said, aims to meet the needs of the urban population's desire for density and pedestrian-friendliness. A small parking garage will be included on the ground level and creatively blended into the streetscape.

Future site of the L&N Lofts (RCN)

The loft project was met with support from Carabello's owner Justin Carabello and Newport resident Joey Klare. Newport has long set a standard in the region for high-profile and ambitious riverfront projects - like Newport on the Levee, the Newport Aquarium, two new hotels, and apartment projects nearer to the river - while this loft project emphasizes the momentum building in the historic core. 

"This is really making a bet on the downtown part of Newport," Klare said. "It looks like it is going to be a really nice project. The additional density is a great thing for downtown Newport and Newport in general."

"I have enjoyed watching this little corridor," said Carabello, whose coffee shop is a popular destination for the nearby residents and workers. "I couldn't be more thrilled to see more high quality development."

The four members of the planning & zoning board that were present on Tuesday gave their approval to Myers's requests, with member Bill Kreutzjans, also a local developer in the urban core, citing the additional ten parking spaces in the new garage and the separation between the common property line that the loft project shares with a neighboring building as particularly attractive.

"I think it is an excellent plan," Kreutzjans said.

The Newport city commission will have final say on the planning & zoning board's recommended approval and will likely vote at its June 19 meeting.

Myers hopes to begin demolition and construction on the roughly $2 million project in mid-summer.

"(The project) is trying to be architecturally design-centered and a community contributor," Myers said. "I'm trying to be a long-term owner. I'm not just looking for something to turn."

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher