Greater City Providence

Brewed Awakening zoning submissions

On Wednesday Schartner Florists, LLC and Acrei, Inc. will present to the Zoning Board of Review plans for a drive-thru coffee shop, operated by Brewed Awakenings, for the site of Clarke Flowers on Hope Street. Below are the drawings submitted for the Zoning meeting obtained by Preserve Providence’s Hope Street.

landscape plan

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parking plan

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floor plan

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drive thru signs

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The ZBR meets on Wednesday, March 16th in the Probate Court Room, fifth floor, City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street starting at 5:30pm.

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.


  • Thanks Jef. Bottom line, Providence’s comprehensive plan is about developing Providence in a way to foster pedestrian-friendly, compact traditional urban development. This development is not consistent with that paradigm. Therefore, it is not appropriate.

  • So, they colored in the plantings, removed the cars from the site plan, and made the building’s massing even larger and uglier?

  • It would be perfect at the old Miko Bld. on North Main, they have an ally next to it for drive thru, the street has 3 lanes of traffic at that corner as well as lights. Hope Street would be a mess if this place went in across from the YMCA nursery and just up from the high school!

  • Their big concessions were to eliminate four parking spaces, widen the rear yard buffer to eight feet, propose a continuous wall of cedar trees along all lot lines, and other plantings to camouflage the drive-thru queue at the back of the lot. They also placed furniture in the previously un-designed front yard area in the front of the building with table and umbrellas.

    All the elements of this site plan and building design are suburban and anti-urban. The Zoning Board of Review doesn’t really address aesthetics only technical compliance or non-compliance with the Zoning Ordinance and the City’s Comprehensive Plan. Hopefully the Zoning Board of Review won’t be bullied by Schartner Florists, LLC and Acrei, Inc. attorney. The board should flatly deny this application because it doesn’t in anyway comply with an R3 zone or the Comprehensive Plan.

    If this proposed site plan were to be approved, Providence would once again lose an important piece of historic contributing architecture, for the short term benefits of a car culture oriented business that might not remain at this location beyond a few years.

  • As a resident of North Main street and in the interest of making all of Providence more pedestrian friendly, I don’t think we need any more of this silliness down there either. There are enough problems between the Hess, Shell, Walgreens, vacant bldgs and University Heights. A coffee shop is fine, but a curb-cut and cars popping out from between the Miko building and the old Aaron’s would be heinous.

  • I’m breaking away from the functionality of this building and the effects on traffic and focusing on the visual aspects of it all.
    This is one of the most tasteless designs I have seen… the neighborhood has fantastic Victorians, bay-windowed apartment houses, etc… the current florist shop, though small in scale, has great detail and curb appeal… This design is terrible! It’s like some overblown shed with some incidental window planters and flowering pear trees! The roofline is bland and massive.
    Overall, it’s more rustic than urban. Scrap it.

  • It is laughable how they think a few shrubs makes everything better. It is still a big shed and a parking lot.

    What, like I am going to be fooled into thinking I am strolling through the park when I walk by those bushes?

    Won’t be laughing if it gets approved.

  • And hey, Enough writing off North Main as the suburban-arterial sacrifice zone! It is time for it to start evolving away from that!

  • I especially like that the cars in the parking lot are go-kart size.

    Hello, scale!

    I agree on North Main. There should be a city-wide drive-thru ban.

  • The go-kart size cars should be pointed out to the ZBR at the meeting.

  • Take it to North main and go nuts. Also – the cars are the correct size – the building is actually 75 feet tall.

  • There’s nothing good about this. And it will go out of business in 3 years if that and then we’ll have another huge surface lot.

  • wait! let’s guess. Who is on zoning these days and if there were only 5 votes then I think some were missing?

  • I left at 10:40 last night after being in the room for 5 hours… Tremendous showing of neighborhood opposition. But I must know after all that who was the one vote for, and what was their rationale?

  • I’m also hearing that zoning voted 3-2 to approve, but passage requires a 4-1 vote. So… anyone got any idears what actually happened?

  • Excepted from julie summersquash on the PPHS facebook page:

    “At around 11:15 PM tonight, after almost 4 hours of testimony and debate, the Providence Zoning Board voted 4-1 to deny Schartner’s application for a drive-thru coffee shop.”

    Unless she misunderstood, I think your original interpretation is correct.

  • I can’t believe it took 5 hours, though. I mean I know it did, I just can’t believe there was enough evidence from the Schartner side to even have it take that long.

  • Unless something has changed, you have to request the minutes of the meeting, which takes a few weeks, and you have to pay for them to be copied, and it is possible you need to have a compelling reason, like you’re appealing something. So, short answer: no.

  • Brussat’s column today says the cost of this proposal was roughly $1 million. How can you recoup $1 million with a coffeehouse business model? Was Brewed Awakenings going to give 100% of its profit to Schartner?

    I call shenanigans. No offense to the BA crew, but my guess is Schartner wanted this zoning variance and drive-thru so that if BA failed, they could claim their next financial hardship and lease or sell to DunkinHoneyBucks, who would murder for a drive thru on Hope.

  • I don’t know if this spells the end of the Hope Street proposal, but…

    Brewed Awakenings is coming to Cranston [Cranston Herald]

    Brewed Awakengings plans to open a location at 1200 Pontiac Avenue in Cranston as soon as this August.

    “Part of the building will stay, but most of what’s there now is coming down,” [founder and owner David J.] Levesque said of the vacant gas station. “We’re going to put on a 600- to 800-foot addition. There will be seating for 50 to 60 people. We’ll also have a drive thru. This will probably be one of the nicest designs we’ve done.”

    Levesque said the project also includes parking for 25 to 30 cars and a sign nearly 80 feet tall that will feature a coffee cup on top.

    “I’m always looking for other spots,” Levesque said. “Right now we’re in some nice neighborhoods. And as long as they support us, we’ll keep going and looking.”

  • The site in Cranston is a former Sunoco gas station… right off the exit ramp from Rt. 37.

    The area in question is pure vehicular traffic. Morning rush hour creates one hell of a bottleneck from 37 (West?) onto I-95 South-bound. Cars stacked on the on-ramp from 95S to 37W. It’s nightmarish and now there’s added traffic with a proposed drive-thru coffee shop.

    25-30 cars??? The property size does not look like it can support that… and why a coffee shop has to seat 50-60 people is beyond me.

    I’m thankful this may end the company’s quest for Hope Street…and I am very thankful I don’t have to deal with the traffic nonsense on Pontiac Avenue.

  • Why shouldn’t a coffee shop be able to seat 50-60 people? I know the Brewed Awakenings in Johnston can hold close to that many. They aren’t just a Dunkin Donuts. Heck, I’m pretty sure many Starbucks can hold close to that number.

    A good coffee shop will have people hanging out, studying, reading, having small meetings, etc.

  • Update from

    Dear Friends of Preserve Hope Street,

    Our journey to find a good use for the Clarke Florist site continues, and we wanted to send everyone an update.

    Zoning Appeal: The Schartner team has filed an appeal of the Providence Zoning Board ruling in Superior Court (case number CA 11-3099). It is unclear if this step was taken by Schartners or by the developer who was working with them on the drive thru proposal. The City of Providence will be defending the decision of the zoning board. No hearing date has been set, and we have been informed that this could take a while – a few months up to a couple of years. Abutters to the Clarke’s site have been legally notified, and we are exploring how best to support the City and the Zoning Board in this case. We are VERY grateful to Steve Litwin, who has been offering his legal services to us at no charge. If we hear more specifics, we will let you know.

    Update on the Site: As you may have noticed, the flower shop is now closed. The signs say they have “moved,” but this means that they have forwarded the phone lines to the flower shop still operated by Schartners. An area of focus for us is supporting Schartner in identifying a new owner or a tenant for the site. We would hate to see the building deteriorate further and risk demolition. We would love your help in spreading the word to anyone you think might be interested in setting up a neighborhood-friendly business. We are concerned that potential tenants know that neighbors are NOT anti-business, we just want a business appropriate to a residential block.

    As always, your ideas and questions are welcome. We will continue to post updates to our Facebook page, to our web site and send out e-mails with any news. Thanks for continuing to follow this story.

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