State officials are looking at the wisdom of adding to the land that falls under control of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and the feasibility of allowing a stadium on the vacant state property in downtown Providence.
The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, which Pryor leads as commerce secretary, last Friday began the search for a consultant to help devise a real-estate development strategy for the land opened by the highway relocation project.
The agency released a request for proposal that contemplates the highway commission controlling development of property adjacent to the highway corridor in downtown Providence, as well as evaluating “special purpose uses” for the land, including “athletic/stadium/entertainment facilities, structured parking, etc.” The request was made in conjunction with the commission and the City of Providence.
It is good that this Governor is actively working to develop this land. I do however worry about the State’s involvement in developing downtown. I don’t have too much faith in the understanding of urbanism and what makes a good city at the State level (Exhibit 1: State House surface parking).
I’ve long said there is nothing special about this land, there’s more than 50 acres of un- or under-developed land within the downtown (Capital Center, Downcity, and the Jewelry District), not including the 195 Land. What makes the 195 Land so special is that the State owns it and the State needs to sell it. That creates a worry about the State settling for any use so long as they get paid.
It is good to see that the RFP was made in conjunction with the City. If the State relies on the City Planning Department to review proposals, then it could be a really good thing that the State is working hard to sell the land. It is however unsettling to see the State try to grab control of land outside what it owns in the former-195 strip.