Providence Business News: Luxury condo tower plans draw ire
The Providence City Council is scheduled to vote July 5 on a street abandonment that would make way for a luxury, high-security condominium tower rising above Interstate 95 at the entrance to Federal Hill.
Vista Della Torre is an $80 million, 33-story project at the intersection of Bradford and Federal streets proposed by Frank and Michael Zammiello, a local father-and-son development team.
“The process by which the street is being taken does not seem to be above board and by city policy,” said Jef Nickerson, of the smart growth advocacy group Greater City Providence.
On June 19, in what Nickerson and others called a highly unusual occurrence, the City Council Public Works Committee voted in favor of the abandonment of Bradford Street following a public hearing, on the same night that the developers voluntarily withdrew their application for the street abandonment at a hearing of the City Plan Commission.
Street abandonment applications are historically reviewed by the City Plan Commission first, and then referred to the City Council. Thomas Deller, director of the city’s Planning Department, did not return several telephone calls seeking comment.
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The tower would be erected literally on top of two city streets, Federal Street and Bradford Street, which sit between Atwells Avenue and Broadway, close to Route 95.
The building would require that Bradford Street be chopped up and north-south routes on Federal Hill changed. But Federal Street would continue to run undisturbed | an arch would be carved out of the center of the building, allowing traffic on Federal Street to pass through.
For the project to succeed, it would require that the city approve the abandonment of Bradford Street and that the city give up its air rights over Federal Street. The City Council’s Public Works Committee will hear the developer’s arguments for those changes tonight (Thursday, July 5th) at 7.
Ed. Note: The full City Council will consider this Thursday, July 5th at 7:00pm, the Public Works Committee meets at 5:00pm.
Jef Nickerson, president of Greater City Providence, a group that promotes dense, walkable and affordable development in Providence, questioned whether the city should abandon Bradford Street when the project has so many steps ahead.
“I don’t really think it has much chance of happening, and the City Council is moving a little fast on a project that may not happen,” he said.
Nickerson and others have questioned whether the street abandonment is allowed under the city’s existing Comprehensive Plan, and whether the City Council’s ordinance committee acted correctly when it gave an early approval to the abandonment last month without waiting for a recommendation from the City Plan Commission.