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ProJo asks, ‘Hotel or parking lot?’

Daniel Barbarisi wrote a story in the Providence Journal last week about what is going on at the Hotel Sierra site on Washington Street.

The developer, Joseph DiBattista tells Dan that the hotel is still on track, but construction will start later than expected. OK.

Dan interviewed me for his article, here’s my bits:

Providence can’t keep allowing developers to knock down buildings without assurance that the projects will go forward, or at least some sort of financial penalty if it does not, said Jef Nickerson, of the urban-growth group Greater City: Providence.

“We are for some reason continuing to knock holes in that remaining urban grid. The Hotel Sierra site, the old circular gas station at Atwells and Broadway, the old Public Safety Complex, the One-Ten Westminster site, Grant’s Lot … What is next? The Arcade?” Nickerson said.

“I suspect that in many ways the city is encouraging unadulterated demolition. Developers can bring financially shaky proposals to the table, knowing full well that if their financing falls through, they’ll be allowed to park cars on the vacant lot. The Procaccianti Group has even gone so far as to cry financial hardship about the minimum landscape requirements for a surface lot. The city needs to start defending itself against these sorts of predatory developers,” he said.

And he shuddered at the idea that the property might become another temporary parking lot, saying the city should immediately write that option out of the zoning ordinance.

Be sure to read the rest of the article here.

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