As Ted Nesi reported in his Saturday Morning Post and ProJo reports today, the State Properties Committee has agreed to spend $3.1 million acquiring several parcels on Francis Street across from the State House and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. State officials tell ProJo they would like to turn the land into a parking lot ‘available for visitors to state offices on Smith Hill and patrons of Veterans Memorial Auditorium.’ The Governor’s Director of Administration, Richard Licht, told Ted Nesi, “It may be 25 years or more before we actually put a building on it, but we’ll never get it for a lower price.”
The parcels are within the City’s D-1 zoning designation (as well as in the Capital Center District). D-1 zoning regulation list surface parking as a prohibited use except for as a carefully defined interim use (ephasis mine):
Interim surface parking may be permitted by waiver by the DRC as an interim use so long as it is either accessory to another interim use on the same lot, or to accommodate parking to serve a construction project. Said construction parking shall cease when the construction is complete. Interim Use surface parking lots shall conform to Section 502.2 E.
Why is the State spending money for land to use for a prohibited use? State government has been shrinking, why would we need more parking on Smith Hill? Isn’t there a
public garage at the DOT? Isn’t there street parking? Isn’t there parking at the mall? Isn’t the State strapped for cash? Couldn’t people take the RIPTA to Smith Hill? Is there really a parking crisis up there, can people not get their business with the State done due to a lack of parking (I’ve never found that to be the case)?
This would be a fine place for more State offices, but we do not need for it to be a surface parking lot for 25 years.
Oh, and just in case you forgot what state you were in, RINPR reports that most of the parcels in question are owned by former Senate Majority Leader John Hawkins. Isn’t that convenient for the retired Senator?