mall turned into tiny homes
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
March 27, 2023 ·  3 min read

Oldest Mall In America Turned Into Tiny Homes

America’s oldest indoor shopping mall has been completely re-imagined since it was first built in 1828. Its three storeys were once a haven for retail therapy, but its doors were shut to the public when it went out of business in 2008. Of course, as you might have guessed, that wasn’t the end of the story! Since then, the building, affectionately named The Arcade, was bought by Evan Granoff, who recently converted the unique space into 48 stylish micro condos! Yes, this is a mall turned into tiny homes.

The ground floor of the historic building in Providence, Rhode Island, facilitates a few small retail spaces for convenience. Shops include a cafe, pizzeria, international foods, a craft beer bar, vintage clothing stores, a book emporium, and two salons. While the second and third floors have been completely renovated to create micro lofts, each complete with sleeping and living spaces, a compact bathroom, and a pantry with a refrigerator.

Due to zoning regulations, none of the micro lofts are equipped with a stove, but this doesn’t bother most residents.

Many fortunate inhabitants of these super cute living spaces travel frequently for work and only need a simple space to unwind. It’s a modern and environmentally friendly solution that works for independent people living on their own.

The Arcade
Image Credit: The Arcade Providence

It’s really all you need for one person,” says one young woman completing her medical fellowship while living in The Arcade.

The Arcade micro lofts - mall turned into tiny homes
Image Credit: The Arcade Providence

Now, when we say micro, we mean micro. The lofts are each approximately 225 square feet in total, with other larger units available at about 400 square feet. The small space sparked a lot of ingenuity as far as storage space goes. The lofts come already furnished, with a few space-saving magic tricks.

For instance, sliding drawers are built right into the bed frame, and a stand-up shower is tucked nicely into the corner of the en suite bathroom. To save on closet space, one resident recommends sticking to slim clothes hangers, which maximize space.

It’s an efficient kitchen, which doesn’t have a stove, so I bought my own toaster oven. There are just a few cabinets. You don’t need too many dishes here,” she says.

Read: Man Saves $100,000 in 7 Years Living in a Tiny House, Plans to Retire at 40

The larger (so to speak) 400-800 squared feet units have just enough space for a personal washer and dryer, which adds a convenience factor from not needing to take trips downstairs to do laundry.

Each apartment boasts pretty impressive large windows, which open out into the center of The Arcade, and let in natural light. But privacy is just a pull of the blinds away.

One resident appreciates the sense of security living in the micro lofts gives her. Being new to the city, she feels at home knowing that her essential needs are just downstairs and that she’s surrounded by friendly neighbors who can look out for each other. Of course, the building is also equipped with security features like cameras and access fobs, and the ground-floor shops are closed to the public in the evenings.

Not to mention, “You don’t have a lot to get dirty- you don’t have a lot to clean up.” Now, that’s a selling factor!

So where do you sign up? Unfortunately, micro condos at The Arcade are in high demand, and you’ll have to add your name to a lengthy waiting list if you want to enjoy the tiny life here.

The Arcade Providence states on their website, “A trend in cities across the globe, the micro-lofts at the arcade providence offer residents 48 small, attractive living spaces in the center of downtown. These efficiently designed lofts provide a unique opportunity to live in a thriving urban environment. Most of our lofts are studios and one bedrooms. There is one 2-bedroom loft and one 3-bedroom loft.

The Arcade micro lofts - mall turned into tiny homes
Image Credit: The Arcade Providence

You can apply to be on the waiting list for a rental unit here.

We’re happy to see tiny homes in action. With the benefits of living simply and producing less waste, plus the bonus of preserving heritage buildings in creative ways, everybody wins!

Keep Reading: Boston’s skinniest home that was built out of spite is now on sale for $1.2 million. Take a look inside.