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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

News & Notes

One proposal to combat sea-level rise in Boston, convert Clarendon Street into a canal.

→ BostInno: 6 Visuals for How Boston Can Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

Though Boston has historically grown outwards into the ocean, with landfill expanding its boundaries over the decades, the threat of it being submerged back into the Atlantic is very real. Though the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has introduced numerous legislation in an attempt to curtail rising sea levels, as has the City of Boston, there needs to be a shift in thinking from how we can combat the effects of climate change to how we can adapt to them.

A new report published by the Urban Land Institute’s Boston/NewEngland branch makes a number of municipal design suggestions and reaffirms on several occasions that the time to act is now.

The study, called The Implications of Living With Water, examines four specified areas dangerously at-risk should Mother Nature decide to unleash her wrath in the form of a hurricane not unlike Sandy, which devastated the Eastern seaboard from New York City down to Florida.


→ BostInno: It’s Official: Allston Is Going to Get a New MBTA Station

Tuesday afternoon Governor Deval Patrick announced that previously derailed plans for West Station are back on. When West Station is complete, commuters will be able to make direct trips back and forth between Allston and Back Bay or South Station – without having to suffer the misery of the Green Line.

Harvard University will help pay for the new railroad station in Boston’s Allston neighborhood.

The MBTA has long range plans to do short run subway-like service on some of it’s commuter rail lines within areas in and close to Boston using smaller DMU trains.

If/when the MBTA moves ahead with plans for purchasing DMU’s, Rhode Island should be ready to get on board with them (sorry). DMU’s would be perfect for running higher frequency intra-state service in Rhode Island.


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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meeting – September 17, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
September 17, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Agenda

  • 4:35 Denise Kaplin: International Walk to School Day
  • 4:50 Jef Nickerson: Pedestrian “Beg Button” ban proposal/action
  • 5:20 Eric Weis: Bike Path Updates – George Redman Linear Park, Blackstone Bikeway segment 1, and Woonasquatucket paths
  • 5:30 Nate Urso, Providence DPW: Road Construction Updates
  • 5:45 Dave Everett: Updates – Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program; Greater Kennedy Plaza Bike Hitches and Racks
  • 6:00 Adjourn

Public comment is welcome at BPAC meetings.

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Hope Street Cyclovía – September 7, 2014

hopestreetcyclovia

From the Facebook event page:


Join Mayor Angel Taveras and the City of Providence for a car-free event that will open up Hope Street for walking, skating, running, cycling and exercise.

Free and open to the public! Featuring Zumba, YMCA’s Y on the Move obstacle course, Recycle-A-Bike, crafts, road bike and BMX demos, a pop-up playground, a dog fashion show, health information and screenings from The Miriam Hospital, and musical performances by Joe’s Backyard Band and Emeline Easton!

The event will take place on Hope Street between 9th Street and Rochambeau Avenue, Sunday, September 7th from noon to 4pm.

Local partners include the City of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office and Office of Sustainability, The Miriam Hospital- a Lifespan Partner, Hope Street Merchants Association, Bank RI, Walgreens, Zipcar, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

For more information visit ProvidenceRI.com

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UPDATED: City Council to consider abandonment of a portion of Orange Street

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Orange Street from Weybosset Street. Image from Google Street View

Update: September 8th, 2014

Word on the street is this abandonment is being requested to build a parking garage on the combined lots. Per updated zoning, the garage would require retail frontage on Weybosset Street.

The petition to the City Council pdf was signed by William J. Piccerelli for Weybosset Orange LLC and Joseph R. Paolino, Jr. for 93 Weybosset, LLC.

I do not know if the City Council passed this, if they did, it would then go to the City Plan Commission for review and approval.


The portion of Orange Street sought to be abandoned is flanked by two surface parking lots and runs from Weybosset to Middle Street, the section between the buildings out to Westminster is not part of the abandonment.

29. Petition from Moses Afonso Ryan, 160 Westminster Street, Suite 400, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, requesting to abandon a portion of Orange Street between Weybosset Street and Middle Street.

If the City Council approves this, it will then go to the City Plan Commission for discussion and a vote. No information on what the requested abandonment is for.

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News & Notes

flickr-kansas-city

Kansas City. (cc) Zach Werner

→ The New York Times: Millennials Going to Kansas City, to Live and Work

On one of the hottest days of the year in mid-July, Michael Knight, a real estate developer, made note of the torn-up street outside Commerce Tower, which opened in 1965 as this region’s first modern high-rise office structure with a glass curtain wall.

Workers were preparing the road for Kansas City’s $100 million streetcar starter line, which will begin running in 2015. It will include a stop right outside the 30-story office building, and the streetcar is one reason among many that the Commerce Tower Group, of which Mr. Knight is a partner, acquired the property just 70 days after he walked through it for the first time a year ago.

In October, the company plans to begin converting the 500,000-square-foot tower into a $90 million vertical city of residential and office space, and retailing and restaurants. The renovation will also include a Park University satellite location, which already operates in the building, and an early childhood school, among other amenities like a fitness center and a rooftop gathering spot.

I think it is cool that Knight Rider went into real estate.

The number of people living in the central business district has increased about 50 percent, to 20,000, since 2000, according to the Downtown Council of Kansas City. Apartment developers added more than 6,130 units from 2002 through 2012, and occupancy is above 95 percent, according to the Kansas City office of Cassidy Turley, a real estate brokerage firm.

Officials would like to see the current number of downtown residents double.

Officials in Providence seem to have no goals whatsoever about increasing the population in Providence, even with similar demand for downtown living as what is seen in Kansas City.


→ Governing: Do Cities Really Want Economic Development?

So many cities and regions continue to struggle economically. Even within nominally well-performing places there are pockets that have been left behind. Most of the have-nots in the current economy have been struggling for an extended period of time, often in spite of enormous efforts to bring positive change.

Why is this? Perhaps we need to consider the possibility that these places are getting exactly the results they want: Maybe they actually don’t want economic development.

Jane Jacobs took it even further. As she noted in The Economy of Cities, “Economic development, whenever and wherever it occurs, is profoundly subversive of the status quo.” And it isn’t hard to figure out that even in cities and states with serious problems, many people inside the system are benefiting from the status quo.

This is a something that I’ve been hearing more of around Providence lately; some feel that people in Rhode Island don’t actually want anyone to be successful, especially if those people are from away. I think of the General Assembly reading the Jacobs quote.


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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – August 20, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
August 20, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor
  • 4:35 – Katie Goodrum, Congress for the New Urbanism – CNU and impacts on bike/ped in Providence
  • 4:55 – Sidewalk access during construction – Continued discussion
  • 5:10 – Road and sidewalk conditions in the Wickenden/South Main area – RIDOT communication
  • 5:20 – Butler Ave. at Waterman and S. Angell signal timing
  • 5:25 – Roadwork Report, Nate Urso, Providence DPW
  • 5:40 – James Kennedy, Providence (Park)ing Day
  • 5:55 – Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program – Providence proposal update (staff)
  • 6:00 – Adjourn

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Better than nothing is not good enough

cvs-washington

New CVS in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood will feature two-levels of apartments and underground parking. – Rendering by Schemata Workshop

I’ve been hearing the same refrain lately when it comes to less than stellar development proposals in Providence, ‘it may not be great, but it is better than what is there now.’ The McDonald’s and Family Value in Olneyville is cited as better than the vacant lot that is there now. The LA Fitness on North Main is seen as better than the vacant building that is there now. And on it goes, there’s a defeatest attitude around here about having nice things.

As CVS starts to expand into Washington State, one Seattle neighborhood saw the company’s proposal and asked if they could build something better. Unlike CVS’s recent store back here at home in Edgewood, the company building the new store, The Velmeir Cos., said, ‘sure, let’s figure it out.’

The original proposal was for a one-story CVS at what the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce describes as a high profile corner is Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood.

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City of Providence Seeks Public Comment on Sustainabilty Plan

providence-green

Over the past year, the City of Providence has been working on its Sustainability Plan. The City has released a draft of that plan and is seeking comment from the public. From the City:


From Mayor Taveras: Draft Sustainable Providence Plan Released for Public Comment

I am pleased to release for public comment a draft of the city’s first-ever sustainability action plan, Sustainable Providence.

In 2013, I released sustainability goals to move Providence forward in six key areas: waste, food, transportation, water, energy, and land use & development. Since then, more than 100 community leaders have worked with my staff to develop and provide feedback on this draft plan to achieve our goals.

Implementing this plan will help build a resilient and sustainable future for Providence as we protect our environment, rebuild our economy and strengthen our community. Thank you for working together with us to create a cleaner, greener city.

Please submit your comments by Friday, August 22, 2014 to Sheila Dormody, Director of Sustainability, sdormody@providenceri.com

Full disclosure: I participated on the Transportation Subcommittee
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→ WPRO: Former Rhode Island Mall to become factory outlets

PowerPoint Presentation

Interior concept rendering from Winstanley Enterprises

The developers of the former Rhode Island Mall are hoping to open “The Outlets at Rhode Island Mall” late next year.

Winstanley Enterprises of Mass. and Surrey Equities of New York bought the mall back in 2012 and had previously planned to turn the vacant shopping center into several big-box stores.

I hate to say I told you so* about the big box concept but… I told you so.

The completed outlet mall would house between 40 and 60 outlet stores according to Silvera. He says it will have similar tenants to the Wrentham Outlets, but unlike Wrentham, it will not be an outdoor mall – they plan to keep the existing exterior of the Rhode Island Mall, but will completely renovate the inside.


The developer has a marketing brochure online pdf

*Who am I kidding, I love to say I told you so.

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→ ProJo: R.I. convention authority to fund parking garage construction behind Garrahy courthouse

garrahy-garage-bing

The R.I. Convention Center Authority said Tuesday it will put up the $43 million needed to build a parking garage adjacent to the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street in downtown Providence.

“The transformation of the current surface parking lot represents a unique opportunity to addres current parking capacity deficiencies and provide a mechanism to promote economic development,” said James Bennett, the convention center authority’s chairman.

Bennett also serves as economic development chief for the City of Providence.


No word on a possible RIPTA hub in the article.

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383 West Fountain Street Renovations

383-west-fountain

Way, way, way back in 2005 in the UrbanPlanet days, Armory Revival had plans for a new building at this site. As with many things in the middle of the last decade, that didn’t happen. Fast forward to today though and Armory Revival is doing a nice renovation of the block.

From their website:

This quirky collection of one and two story brick industrial buildings is quietly being transformed into one of the busiest places in the city by The Armory Revival Company. The 40,000 square foot former Waterman Stables and Combination Ladder Company buildings, featuring fabulous skylights, exposed ductwork, wood beams, private entrances and flexible, efficient floor plates are being developed for a variety of office and commercial uses. Modest rents, abundant on-site parking and immediate access to Interstate 95, Downcity and the Hospitals make this Westminster Crossing location a fantastic choice for your business. 383 West Fountain Street is now home to the most successful Planet Fitness in New England and Riverwood Mental Health Services.

There’s a floorplan on the site which is a little hard to read as displayed, but you can get an idea of the building.

It is nice to see some action happening in what I like to call the Near West Side.

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Providence to Create New Historic Landmarks District

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Broad Street Synagogue from the Providence Preservation Society’s 2014 Ten Most Endangered Properties list. Photo by Jesse Burke for PPS.

As part of the Re: Zoning process, the City of Providence has designated a new historic landmarks district. Also, the City will remove buildings which have been demolished form the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District; which begs the question, why is there and ICBD if buildings in it are getting demolished? From the City:


City of Providence to Create Historic Landmarks District to Preserve Properties

New designation protects historic properties outside boundaries of existing historic districts; residents should seek designation by August 11, 2014

Mayor Angel Taveras announced today the City of Providence will create a new Historic Landmarks District to strengthen its preservation efforts and as part of the city’s Zoning Ordinance revision.

“We are working creatively to preserve Providence’s historic architecture,” said Mayor Taveras. “The new Providence Landmarks District will protect individual properties that having historic significance but that are not within local historic districts.”

The Providence Landmarks District will be composed primarily of residential and ecclesiastical buildings, function like other City historic districts, and include design review and demolition protections. The owners of these historic sites, such as those that have been recognized by the Providence Preservation Society, can ask that their property be designated as a Providence Landmark and request their building be included in the new district. Property owners interested in having their building designated should contact the Department of Planning and Development before August 11, 2014.

In addition to creating the Landmarks District, the City is modifying two of its existing historic districts: the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District and the Jewelry Local Historic District. Changes include adding about 30 properties to the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District, removing properties that have been demolished, and removing overlapping jurisdiction with the Downtown Design Review Committee in Downtown.

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Rescheduled Broadway Cyclovía – August 17, 2014

broadway-ciclovia-august

The Broadway Cyclovia which was scheduled for July 27th was postponed due to weather concerns. It has been rescheduled to August 17, 2014 • noon-4pm.
Broadway Cyclovía
Broadway from Dean St. to Courtland St.
Sunday, August 17, 2014 • 12noon – 4pm

Join Mayor Angel Taveras and the City of Providence on Sunday, August 17 for a car-free event that will open up Broadway for walking, skating, running, cycling and exercise. Free and open to the public! Featuring Zumba, bike activities, street vendors and more!

The event will take place on Broadway from Dean St. to Courtland St.

Local partners include the City of Providence’s Healthy Communities Office and Office of Sustainability, Walgreens, Zipcar, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

For more information visit ProvidenceRI.com.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
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→ PBN: I-195 commission hears two more pitches, ‘moving ahead’ on 2 others

195-land-aerial-ridot

The Interstate 195 Redevelopment Commission Monday heard presentations from two developers with plans for the east side of the former highway land.

Royal Oaks LLC, a group led by Richard Baccari II, vice president of Providence-based Churchill & Banks, is pitching a project south of Wickenden Street, adjacent to existing Churchill & Banks properties in the Fox Point neighborhood.

After Royal Oaks, Carpionato Group of Johnston was slated to present its plan for the Connection at College Hill, an 850,000-square-foot apartment, retail, hotel and pharmaceutical research complex on nearly 6 acres and multiple parcels stretching across Wickenden.

The Carpionato Group proposal has been discussed before here.

Also see in the PBN article, the two developers who presented to the 195 Commission at the last meeting do not plan to construct any parking for their projects.

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→ ProJo: Providence City Council OKs tax treaty revision for Capitol Cove development

capitol-cove

ProJo reports that the City Council has approved a tax-stabilization agreement for the Capitol Cove building in Capital Center. The building will continue to house Johnson & Wales dormitories but the developer hopes to build a 169-unit apartment building next door.

The City Council gave initial approval Wednesday night to change in a tax treaty with the new owners of the Capitol Cove complex on Canal Street to let the building continue as a rented college dormitory, a move the developers said was needed to get financing for a new 169-unit apartment project they want to build on a vacant lot next door.

Added to the 134-units the owners of the Regency are planning and the real estate market appears to be showing signs of recovery in Providence.

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