Greater City Providence

Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot™ seeks 2-year extension


Image from Google Street View

The owners of the Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot™ are seeking a 2-year extension of the non-compliant use at Tuesday’s Zoning Board of Review meeting:

PRI XIV, LP: 197-209 Fountain Street (bounded by Empire St., Greene St. and Broadway), also known as Lots 116 & 436 on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 25, located in a D-1 Downtown District, filed an application requesting a USE VARIANCE seeking relief from Article 12 – Section 1201, Use Matrix Table 12-1, to continue the use the subject property for surface parking. The applicant seeks relief from the use restriction; whereby, surface parking lots are not permitted within the D-1 district. The lots in question together contain approximately 44,547 square feet of land area.

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.


  • Who knew it was a “memorial parking lot”??!! I thought a nice hotel was supposed to be built there, rather than just another open space lot? Whatever happened to that?

  • It’s too bad the answer can’t be – sure, you get an extension if you pay more taxes.

  • Brick has a good idea there. The tax rates on these “temporary” surface lots should spike significantly each time a new variance extension is granted — something like a 5% increase per cycle.

  • Yes, it seems like a fine idea to wrest that surface parking cash teat out of landowners mouths and into the city’s. I too am all in favor, but watch out for unintended consequences: More parking – more money may be so hard to resist that the goal of more actual city, less parking will recede.

    See how gambling went from forbidden to Oh well might as well have the government make some money off it since it goes on no matter what. Now the government encourages gambling more vigorously than the old bookies and goombahs ever dreamed to.

  • Good news: PBN’s cover had “Is there too much parking in providence?” with basically an updated version of that GCPVD grphic from years ago:

    Elorza paid some lipservice to the problem, but there was also this:

    >Providence does not impose a separate tax or fee on surface lots, and Elorza said he is not considering one.

    They also quote Paolino way too much. At least the problem is gaining recognition though.,105442

  • The article said that Elorza wasn’t considering a parking lot tax, but I put this in the same category as Obama supposedly being against gay marriage in his first term, and then “evolving.” The mayor has said that he thinks that a parking lot tax is a good idea, and that he’s open to trying it in the future, but that his main concern going into things is lowering other taxes. But the proposal I brought forward offers a reciprocal lowering of property taxes for every cent raised in parking tax, so I think if we keep hammering the mayor on this he’ll change his tune and say he’s more supportive.

    Paolino says that businesses are dependent on parking, but this is another advantage. If the low(ish) cost of parking for visitors is what draws them, then raising taxes on parking but reciprocally lowering it on buildings just allows businesses to draw people in a different way. Food in downtown is expensive. A less tax-burdened restaurant may face higher parking costs, but will have cheaper food of the same quality. If it’s $5 more to park and $5 less to eat, then it’s break-even. And at the same time, this will allow many RIPTA routes to expand because of increased ridership. The 60, for instance, is already quite healthy and full almost all the time, but could probably increase its frequency if parking were more expensive. Drivers above all should like this, because if you have to drive from Foster or something you don’t want the road clogged with people who drove from Pawtucket and East Providence, who might have taken a bus instead. It’ll get rid of the most frustrating aspect of Waterfire, which is the complete standstill that people’s cars are in.

    I’m also excited about how this offers space for additional events. A parking lot that is heavily taxed will at first be a cash-cow for money to lower other taxes, but over time we should raise the rates to the point of losing some of that tax revenue, but affecting land prices. Putting pressure on parking lot owners to do something other than parking will give them a reason to do lead-loss events like flea markets or outdoor bazaars while they hold onto their land in hopes of a better building prospect. So, this too will draw new people.

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