Greater City Providence

Parking Lot-ification in Wanskuck


At their May 28th meeting, the Zoning Board of Review will consider a proposal by Manni Realty and Admiral Smith Realty, LLC (owners of the building LaSalle Bakery on Admirial is in) to demolish three residential buildings for expanded parking said to support LaSalle Bakery.

MANNI REALTY, LLC, OWNER OF LOT 197 AND ADMIRAL SMITH REALTY, LLC, OWNER OF LOTS 198, 200 & 201: 685 Admiral Street (Lot 198, consisting of 8,184 square feet of land area), 697 Admiral Street (Lot 200, consisting of 3,100 square feet of land area), 782 River Avenue (Lot 197, consisting of 4,400 square feet of land area) and 85 Crandall Street (Lot 201, consisting of 3,600 square feet of land area) on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 79, Lot 198 is located in a Limited Commercial C-1 Zone and Lots 197, 200 & 201 are located in a Residential R-2 Two-Family Zone; filed an application requesting Use and Dimensional Variances pursuant to Section 200, seeking to demolish the existing residential structures on Lots 197, 200 & 201 and constructing two (2) parking areas to support the existing bakery located on Lot 198.

Lots 197 & 198 would be merged into a new parcel consisting of 9,194 square feet of land area that would support the bakery and a new accessory parking area requiring relief from Section 303-Use Code 57 (expansion of the commercial use into the residential zone). Further relief is sought from Sections 303-Use Code 64.1 and 701, permitted uses, to provide a separate accessory parking area on a proposed new parcel consisting of 10,223 square feet of land area at the corner of Admiral and Crandall Streets that would further support the existing bakery.

[alert type=”muted”]The Zoning Board of Review meets Wednesday, May 28th in the First Floor Conference Room at 444 Westminster Street. This item is on their 7pm agenda.[/alert]

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.


  • Is there any effort through the Re: Zoning to outlaw this practice outright?

    It feels like we’re fighting small fires all the time. It should just be flatly illegal to demolish a building for parking, and even demolitions for new buildings should require the developer to bond for maintaining the lot as a park in case the building falls through (like in Salt Lake City).

  • Completely unnecessary, especially since there’s plenty of on-street parking on Admiral and River. And the street behind the Abbey. And the street that the proposed parking lot would butt up against, anyway… The Abbey’s the only other business over there that gets many cars to show up, and LaSalle’s already closing by the time their dinner business picks up.

  • Seven Stars on Broadway has about 6 parking spaces that none of their customers seem to know about and they seem to be doing fine.

  • Isn’t this part of the strip that’s supposed to be a commercial district with increased density in the new zoning?

    Regardless, matthew is correct. There is no need for more parking. I’ve gone through during their busiest hours and have never had trouble finding a place to park nearby. Their other location on Smith St has fewer parking spaces and, arguably, fewer nearby street spaces. And they do just fine without more parking.

    More lots is not what is needed there…. heck, there’s a huge barely-used parking lot directly across the street from the bakery. Perhaps they should consider asking to rent a couple spaces there.

  • Also, the intersection of River and Admiral is way too big and could surely use a traffic calming intervention to make it safer for pedestrians and could probably increase the amount of street parking in the process.

  • Yes. This is also true. It’s actually scary in a car because River Ave doesn’t line up properly when you cross Admiral.

  • I wonder if this is also a good time to talk about the decision that was made to place Wanskuck between two highways. I don’t think that this makes the parking decision valid, but it does give some origins to how people came to think driving was a center to everything.

    It’s a stretch to imagine it, but with 146 there, and I-95, I hope someday we can imagine removing one of the two. I-95 is somewhat more of a northeasterly, and 146 and northwesterly route, but they’re both essentially north-south corridors in this area. It would make sense to connect I-95 off of 146 somewhere north of Providence, in order to save the Pawtucket downtown from the Pawtucket S-curve. And if we were using the interstates for what they were meant for, which is long distance freight travel and the occasional vacation trip, rather than as inter-urban commuter roads, then we’d probably be able to make them a lot smaller too and capture the value we’re trying to go for.

    I-95 doesn’t even go directly to Boston (because they successfully fought it) so why have it go directly to Providence? It’s a through-route.

  • I really struggle with fighting small businesses who want more parking when we don’t have a good transit system in place. If we had frequent transit nearby then this would be a no-brainer and I’d be all for denying their request. The reality is, however, that we do not, and therefore most of their customers have to drive to this location.

    That being said, there is a TON of street parking in this area, as there is nearly everywhere in Providence, so I can agree that additional parking is completely unnecessary. Also, creating more parking will just kill any incentive to actually increase transit in the area in the future, so I am further against this.

  • As a local resident, I am not in favor of more parking lots near the River/Admiral intersection. LaSalle Bakery customers can already find on-street parking spots near the bakery. They would have to walk nearly as far from the outer edge of the proposed parking lot as they do now when they park on the street. Parking lots decrease the character of a neighborhood and aren’t good for the environment, either.

  • That propsoed parking lot goes deep into the residential street on the north side of Admiral, detracting from its appearnce as a residential street. Also one might think LaSalle would be concenred about losing 3 residential neighboring buildings that should be a good source of customers who could so easily walk in!
    I’m a frequent customer, never had trouble parking. If they get approval I think it will give me a sour feeling about going there.
    But, my limited experience with the Zoning Board (trying to stop more billboards on I-95 and advocating granting a parking variance to would-be jewelry district developers) is an impression that except for Dan Varin the Board members were not that interested in environmental considerations.

  • I haven’t been over that way in some time. According to the Streetview images at least, the one on River Ave. looks a little forlorn and possibly vacant. The ones on Crandall Street look well kempt and occupied.

  • Just for the purpose of being correct and staying somewhat on topic… Wanskuck is not between the highways. Charles is. Wanskuck goes from 146 to the North Providence line to Admiral St through the middle of Providence College (Huxley Ave) and then the southern portion is weird. But it’s all west of 146. I don’t see I-95 disappearing through downtown Providence and Pawtucket anytime soon. Sure, Boston got 95 out of the way, but then 93 was built… But that’s not what’s at stake here…

    This neighborhood is residential. Admiral St should have more density, not less. I frequent the area and have never noticed an overabundance of cars at La Salle. Maybe they think they’ll attract more customers if they had parking, but I don’t know anyone who has decided not to go there because there wasn’t parking (granted, I’ll admit to driving by their other location because of lack of parking, to go to this one and park and get what I need).

    I may be wrong, but I think all those houses are currently occupied. I’m sure the property owners would love to sell them and rent the lot space to the bakery for parking. They might even make more off it than by keeping the houses and renting the units (because the land would be valued less and they’d pay less in taxes). And as much as I hate the parking lot on the southwest corner of River and Admiral, they should just pay for the right to use those spaces. I’m pretty sure the hours of the bakery and the Lebanese restaurant/hookah lounge don’t overlap by much. I almost never see any cars in that lot at any time of day/night.

  • Right you are. Sorry for the mix up on the neighborhoods.

    I’ve biked through Wanskuck, on my way to an interview for a job I didn’t get in North Providence (wasn’t super fun). If I remember, Douglas Street was quite wide, and a lot of the parking lanes were empty, so although there was speeding on that street, I found it bikeable as far as the city line because of the added space. The other thing that needs to be considered here is how to connect biking through this area.

    The proposal to get RIPTA to be less of a hub and spoke system could also address this. I’ve wanted to make Dean (and its respective many other names, down to Prairie) a north-south route through the West and South Sides. If you follow that street to its end point, it’s a half-block over to Douglas, and although that’s a northwesterly street, it still keeps the overall direction of the route. I don’t know if that would be too long to be practical, and I also don’t know if once you get up that far you’re looking at reducing the usefulness of the route by putting it through a less dense area. But certainly it’s worth thinking about. There needs to be more thought to connecting these areas. And, of course, to limiting cars at points during routes like this. Essentially, let local cars in where businesses are dense, but crossing the bridges, or along one block here and one block there, put motorized bollards like they have in Groningen, to allow buses or emergency vehicles through but not cars. And then you’d have Dean et. al. become quite traffic-free to help flow buses through it efficiently, allowing more frequent service for less money.

    (I think I remember Douglas Street looking kind of grim, but having a lot of nice but run-down historic buildings on it–triple deckers and such? Yeah. I think it’d benefit).

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