Artist gets probation for building secret mall apartment

AC says: "A Providence artist collective built a secret apartment in The Providence Place Mall. It had furniture, electricity, and a Playstation. They had plans to add a bedroom and a floor, but those hopes were dashed when they were surprised by mall security recently."

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Michael Townsend, 36, said he and seven other artists built the apartment in a 750-square-foot loft in the parking garage four years ago and lived there for up to three weeks at a time while documenting mall life.

The apartment included a sectional sofa and love seat, coffee and breakfast tables, chairs, lamps, rugs, paintings, a hutch filled with china, a waffle iron, TV and Sony Playstation 2 — although a burglar broke in and stole the Playstation last spring, Townsend said. The artists built a cinderblock wall and nondescript utility door to keep the loft hidden from the outside world.

There was no running water — instead they used the mall bathrooms.

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