Greater City Providence

Redevelopment Agency may buy Providence Piers


Ian Donnis reports at WRNI today that the Providence Redevelopment Agency is considering buying Patrick Conley’s Providence Piers property on Allens Avenue.

Ian quotes the PRA’s July 16th meeting minutes:

Mr. Deller also reminded the Agency members that at some point around 2004/2005, the PRA had attempted to purchase the property on Allens Avenue, now known as Providence Piers. At that time, Mr. Patrick Conley purchased the property before the Agency was able to act upon it. Now, Mr. Conley has approached the Agency to see if we are interested in acquiring the property at this time. An analysis of the property and its value is ongoing and dependent upon the outcome of the analysis, the property acquisition may be included in the proposed redevelopment plan for Allens Avenue.

Greater City: Providence has mostly steered clear of the whole Allens Avenue waterfront issue as it has become quite contentious and frankly, we’re really not sure where we stand on it. What we do know, is we want to see the public have as much access to the waterfront as feasible, it is a slight embarrassment that the capital city of the Ocean State has such meager waterfront recreation/entertainment offerings. At the same time, we know that maritime industry is a vital component of our economy and want to see jobs and tax proceeds maximized. The Providence Working Waterfront Alliance is working tenaciously to defend their interests, and I would not expect them to do any less. At some point however, for the best of everyone, we have to come to some sort of consensus on what mixed-use means, how it will be implemented, and how all interested parties concerns will be addressed. Until and unless we reach consensus, we will have a waterfront that is sitting in limbo waiting for such.

Edit to add: Just wanted to show this is what Mr. Conley was proposing for this area at one point:



Now, he is asking for the city to buy him out.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • I know it is like comparing apples to Volkswagens, but I’ll be annoyed if the city buys this property and allowed Grove Street School to be torn down rather than buy that property. If there’s no money for GSS, then where is the PRA money for something like Providence Piers?

  • I worked in that building for a while, and let me tell you the area is not ready for development at all. I’m glad that Mr. Conley is selling the building because the tenants aren’t happy at all, but thats another story for another day.

    To get to work I used to pass Desire and Cheaters (try telling a client you’re right across from the big pink stripper building), under all this wonderful new highway, past lots of parking lots, tankers, and all sorts of wonderful other things. On top of that, once I was at work, being across from the asphalt company and next to the boat works, provides the area with toxins in the air, particles on your car (this affected multiple peoples windshields in weird ways), and lots of noise (this I was ok with). These companies would have to move so far down the river in order to be able to develop the area. I guess my initial thought would be for the towboat company to move to Conley’s wharf and let that area be developed instead, more conducive to pedestrian access (depending on the new Wickenden intersection). Better yet, how about we develop the Dynamo project area and the old 195 area first so we don’t have a crater of parking lots in the newly expanded downtown.

  • Even without residential, this large riverfront property should be developed to accommodate a mix of uses at higher density. To have part of the site dedicated to shipping does make sense. An empty open yard or surface parking does not. The existing historic structure should be reinforced with new commercial building(s) hugging the Allens Avenue frontage. A medical use as mentioned in the pbn article would make obvious sense due to the sites proximity to the hospital complex and the Jewelry District. An alternative might be for a green-collar industry to utilize a building or part of the site as well.

  • In my sim city, I’d make Collier park the new RIPTA ferry and recreational dock with public infrastructure (over-the-counter food, vending, restrooms, etc.) linked to Kennedy Plaza and Providence station via the future streetcar system. Conley mentions in the PBN article he has spoken to a short-sea shipping company – that would provide good paying jobs (and taxes to the city) in a growing industry that RI can use its advantages for. Link the port rail system to the short-sea shipping operation and up Allens avenue to the collier park area and use the tracks during the day for the streetcar system all the way down to Roger Williams Park.

  • I thought the short-sea companies were more interested in Quonset and the improved infrastructure there as well as the deeper draft with less dredging.

    Wherever it goes, it would seem like a pretty big loss for the state if they don’t get some short sea shipping going. Talk about wasting our biggest natural advantage. (although one could argue that New Bedford especially is better positioned in terms of getting boats in and out)

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