Greater City Providence

PBN: Garrahy parking garage seen as lure for development


Image from Bing Maps

Contrary to conventional wisdom, things may be looking up for the future of Providence’s former Interstate 195 lands.

At least five organizations have confirmed making formal bids to build on the 19 developable acres freed by the removal of the highway.

One of them, a plan by Ocean State Angels and Cambridge Biolabs to build a life science accelerator at the corner of Richmond and Clifford Streets, is just the kind of “Knowledge District” concept envisioned by state leaders when they created the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission in 2012.

And perhaps even more favorable for commissioners, the General Assembly last week approved the construction of a $45 million, seven-level parking garage explicitly intended to boost interest in the land.

It would be enlightening to know what if anything those five bidders have said about parking. But since those discussions are held in closed door Executive Session meetings not open to the public, I guess we’ll never know.

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.


  • Fantastic photo to pair with this article. Take a look at that useless and inadequate 5 story parking garage! I’m so glad it was torn down to make way for the brand new 7 story parking powerhouse to built across the street. I’m so happy the state is finally spending millions to upgrade the city’s aging parking infrastructure. While I know the old garage was largely vacant and obsolete, I’m confident this new garage located directly across the street and with two additional floors for parking, will be the panacea for providence’s economic ills.

    Like lolz,

  • Why didn’t RIPTA get a budget increase. The best transportation policy it the best land use policy. There’s no need to be obsessed with parking.

  • The Assembly’s budget did create a Highway maintenance fund, with revenues from some fees such as on driver’s licenses, auto inspections and registrations to grow over time as they are taken from the general fund or increased. Starting July 1, 2015 RIPTA will get additional revenue from 5% of that fund, expected to be about $2 million that year and grow to a bit over $4 million/year, totalling about $14 million for the next 5 fiscal years. While it is an accomplishment to get any additional funding for transit in this budget climate, it should be noted that Ripta’s projected deficits for the 5 years assuming no change in service level is about $44 million (or $67 million if certain reitree benefits are taken into account.) Of course the budget allocated the money for the Garrahy garage, and eliminated tolls, thus eliminating a source of income from out of staters and also eliminating some incentives to carpool or use transit.
    In general, I think the state keeps Ripta going, but by ephaizing accomodating cars so much makes it impossible for trnsit to succeed, or play much of role in protecting the environment, rejuvenaing core cities, or fostering economic redevelopment.

  • I guess the silver lining to this article is the potential for a life science accelerator? Positive vibes, positive vibes!

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