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ALCO TIF Approved

Rendering from Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse

The Providence Journal reports that the city will now support the 8 million TIF1 for the immense American Locomotive (ALCO) project. Putting aside for a moment this quote from the venerable newspaper (while wondering how a project can break ground when it is already underway?):

With the full City Council expected to take the required two votes of approval at special meetings on Dec. 15 and Dec. 18, developer Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse says it plans to break ground by the spring on what is currently the largest development under way in the city.

And ignoring the fact that the article reads like a press release with no mention at all of what I am sure were plenty of detractors, I think this is good news.

While I originally was suspect of these TIF-funded projects such as the important public elements of parking garages2, affordable housing, bike paths, parks and funky little bridges on the back end of the project (and therefore the first things to get jettison when the goings get tough) but Streuver Brothers seem to have shown Providence that they are serious about completing this development, and that is good news. While our friends at RI Future and Not for Nothing report that Streuver Bros are selling off properties in their native Baltimore, and laying off most of their Rhode Island staff, the fact that they’re sticking around to make sure ALCO is finished the way they promised, and that should prove to be a good thing all around.

1 Tax Incremental Financing – when the developer pays what would be the increased property taxes as the project develops into a fund which then helps pay for more development at the site – it was originally $20 million, btw.

2Oops. I misspoke. It appears, from an article last month in the Providence Journal that the parking garages, which originally planned to be wrapped in retail, have been, in fact, jettisoned. So, I guess that means a lot of surface parking right on the river, then? That is unfortunate.

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4 Responses to ALCO TIF Approved

  1. Jef Nickerson December 10, 2008 at 11:27 am #

    I wonder how the cancellation of the garages effects the rest of the project. As we know, there are minimum parking requirements that code imposes. I don’t think there is enough surface area there to cover the amount of parking needed for what is proposed as far as office, retail, and residential space. So how are they going to get around that?

    I think the minimum requirements are often too high, but even realistic parking needs; I don’t think they have the physical land area for.

  2. Jen Coleslaw December 10, 2008 at 11:31 am #

    I seem to remember that they made the minimum on surface parking that eventually would be covered with garages (because i remember the discussion about whether they needed to landscape it and the feeling was they didn’t because it was going to be garage–SURPRISE!,) and a wrapper that would have retail in it. So I am going to assume that that is what is now off the table.

    I’m glad that the park and hopefully the bridges and the affordable housing is still happening, but all that surface parking really sucks.

    That is the problem with these TIF funded projects. All the goodies are tacked on to the end, but they are trotted out in the beginning as being integral parts of the project, when they really are just “potential extras.”

  3. Jef Nickerson December 10, 2008 at 11:37 am #

    Currently almost all their land without buildings on it (i.e. where the surface parking would go) is not along the river directly, but along Valley Street. They currently have a giant ocean of asphalt on Valley Street. Valley Street cannot be a highly functioning urban street with oceans of surface parking along it’s margins. 🙁


    View Larger Map

    One thing that could be done to reduce their reliance on surface parking, is to rebuild Valley Street so that it has on street parking on both sides (there is some street parking, but I’m not sure that it is even legal). Then perhaps we could see a few narrow liner buildings on the margins of the parking ocean lining Valley Street.

    On street parking would also have a fringe benefit of calming the traffic on Valley Street.

  4. Jen Coleslaw December 10, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    of course their response to this unfortunate thing will be “well, if the city gave us the 20 million dollar TIF we could do it.” I feel like I have heard that somewhere before? Grants Lot anyone?

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