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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – October 18, 2017

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission
October 18, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of September 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. Canal Street Improvements – College Hill, Downtown – Ward 12 (For Action) — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has presented plans to the City for improvements to Canal Street between Smith Street and Washington Street. These plans resulted from the Canal Street Road Safety Assessment previously reviewed by the BPAC at its February 2017 meeting. The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding these changes. This is the second time this project comes before the BPAC, and if approved, the improvements would be implemented in 2018.
  4. Downtown Transit Connector Public Hearing – Downtown, Upper South Providence – Wards 1, 11, and 12 (For Action) — The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority will present 30% designs for the Downtown Transit Connector project along Exchange Street, Washington Street, Dorrance Street, Dyer Street, and Eddy Street. Improvements include the conversion of some on-street parking to bus-only lanes. In addition to normal BPAC discussion, this will serve as a public hearing regarding the potential removal of parking from portions of the street. This is the second time this project comes before the BPAC, and if approved, the improvements would be implemented in 2018.
  5. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  6. Adjournment
Full Disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Mayor Elorza vetos City Council Resolution regarding bike lanes

Mayor Elorza speaking at ribbon-cutting of Fountain Street bike lane in November 2016

Last week the Providence City Council passed a Resolution calling for, “full traffic impact and economic impact studies prior to deciding whether to construct new bicycle lanes.”

Bicycle and transportation advocates, along with the Mayor and at least 5 members of the Council hold that these studies would out unnecessary expense in the way of expanding bicycle infrastructure within the city. The Mayor vetoed the Resolution.

From the Mayor:

I vetoed the Providence City Council’s resolution regarding bike lane planning because it sends the wrong message about bicycle and pedestrian safety here in Providence. We support Complete Streets here in our city, meaning that our infrastructure is designed and operated for safe access for all users, of all abilities. We will continue to engage the community in these decisions and we remain committed to working with the Councilmembers to address any concerns they have heard from constituents.

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Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – September 20, 2017

Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
September 20, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Introduction of New Commission Members (For Discussion)
  3. Approval of July 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  4. Election of Commission Chair and Vice Chair (For Action)
  5. Recommendations for improving Allens Avenue – Upper South Providence, Lower South Providence, Washington Park – Wards 10 and 11 (For Action) — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation, in coordination with the City of Providence, has conducted a Road Safety Assessment (RSA) for Allens Avenue. The final recommendations of the RSA have been submitted to the City. This review will allow the Commission to provide comment on these RSA recommendations. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the Commission for preliminary plan review.
  6. “Elmwood Avenue Road Safety Assessment” – South Elmwood – Ward 9 (For Action) — The Rhode Island Department of Transportation, in coordination with the City of Providence, has conducted a Road Safety Assessment (RSA) for Elmwood Avenue south of Rose Avenue. The final recommendations of the RSA have been submitted to the City. This review will allow the Commission to provide comment on these RSA recommendations. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the Commission for preliminary plan review.
  7. “Dean Street/Pleasant Valley Parkway/Oakland Street Corridor Discussion” – Federal Hill, Smith Hill, Valley, Elmhurst – Wards 12 and 13 (For Discussion) — The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding possible bicycle and pedestrian improvements to the corridor between Atwells Avenue and Eaton Street known as Dean Street, Pleasant Valley Parkway, Raymond Street, and Oakland Ave. Such improvements would come back before the BPAC at least twice before construction.
  8. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  9. Adjournment
Full Disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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PBN: The state’s 2012 bet on commuter-rail service has yet to pay off. Is it time to privatize?

Wickford Junction Station, image from RIDOT.

“We started a few months ago, doing a deep dive looking into what the MBTA can do, what it can’t do and why,” [RIDOT Director Peter] Alviti said. “Peak periods [are] quite a challenge for them to be able to give us more frequency during rush hours.”

The constriction relates to the design of the MBTA hub at South Station in Boston, according to Devine. It becomes a choke point during rush hours. “Without an expansion in additional capacity and trackage there, it really limits increasing the trains [to Rhode Island], particularly in the peak period,” he said.

Taking over the services themselves, however, would allow RIDOT to contract out the operations to a company that only has to cycle between Wickford Junction and Providence, and which might allow for future expansion.

The article goes on to discuss the need to add housing to the stop at Wickford Junction to provide a built-in client base for the service (true TOD, not a Home Depot and a Walmart) and also the potential for service to Quonset, which is an expanding jobs center.

We’re not going to tear down the $40 million station at Wickford Junction, so how do we make it work?

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ProJo: 195 redevelopment commission OKs temporary parking plan

Parcels 27 and 28 are on either side of Clifford Street south of Richmond Street. Image from Google Maps

Parking issues that have arisen as perhaps the final stumbling block before a development team starts building its planned innovation center and hotel on former highway land were addressed Monday night when the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission agreed to allow temporary surface parking on some of its land, if necessary.

[…]

After a brief public hearing with few speakers, the I-195 Commission voted to allow nearly 2 acres of the former highway land — Parcels 27 and 28 — to be used for surface parking if the innovation center is ready to occupy before a nearby parking garage is ready to accommodate judges, lawyers and court officials from the J. Joseph Garrahy Judicial Complex. But that 1,200-space parking garage is also intended to accommodate 400 anticipated workers in the planned innovation center and adjacent hotel.

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RI Future: La Salle very interested in replacing Providence Water Supply Board building with parking lot

Providence Water Supply Board building, image from Google Street View

As the Providence Water Supply Board moves its administration and customer service offices to its new home at an industrial park off Huntington Ave, questions are being asked about the fate of the iconic building that will soon be empty at 552 Academy Avenue. Rumors were flying that La Salle Academy wants to purchase the property and turn it into a parking lot, and those rumors, it turns out, are true.

[…]

“Let me tell what’s not going to be there if La Salle is fortunate enough to acquire the property,” said [Thomas Glavin, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at La Salle Academy]. “There’s not going to be a middle school there. There’s not going to be a hockey rink there. There’s not going to be a swimming pool there. There’s probably not going to be anything there in the short run. One of the things we’re very concerned about is parking…”

Sigh.

The City has not made any decisions about what to do with the building. There would be an RFP process which LaSalle would have to respond to. Then the matter would go before the Historic District Commission.

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Fane Organization Hope Point Tower on 195 Redevelopment District Commission Agenda Today – July 25, 2017

I-195 Redevelopment District Commission – Public Meeting Notice
A regular meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, Rhode Island, on Tuesday July 25, 2017, beginning at 5:00 P.M., for the following purposes:

Rendering of proposed 45-story tower on Parcel 42 by the Fane Organization

195-roundI. Public Session

  1. Welcoming Remarks by Chairperson Azrack.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meetings Held on June 19, 2017 and July 10, 2017.
  3. Executive Director’s Report.
  4. Presentation on the proposed development on Parcel 42 by Jason Fane of The Fane Organization.
  5. Presentation by Patricia Adell of Real Estate Solutions Group, LLC regarding the proposed development on Parcel 42 by The Fane Organization.
  6. Public Comment on the proposed development on Parcel 42 by The Fane Organization.
  7. Vote to consider the Level 2 application as submitted by The Fane Organization.
  8. Informational presentation by Christopher Wangro of Zaragunda, Inc. regarding District interim use and programming.
  9. Chairperson’s Report/Agenda for next meeting on Monday, August 21, 2017 at 5:00P.M.
  10. Vote to Adjourn.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – July 19, 2017

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of June 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. “Olney Street Improvements” – College Hill, Mount Hope – Wards 2 and 3 (For Action) — The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding preliminary design plans to restripe Olney Street to include bike lanes. In addition to normal BPAC discussion, this will serve as a public hearing regarding the potential removal of parking from portions of the street.
  4. “Harris Avenue Improvements” – Olneyville – Ward 15 (For Action) — The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding preliminary design plans to restripe Harris Avenue to include a separated two-way bike lane. In addition to normal BPAC discussion, this will serve as a public hearing regarding the potential removal of parking from portions of the street.
  5. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  6. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – July 10, 2017

Downtown Design Review Committee
Notice of Regular Meeting

Monday, July 10, 2017
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-roundAgenda

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of June 12, 2017

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 17.12: 350 Eddy Street (South Street Landing) – Public Hearing – The subject of the hearing will be an application by the CV Properties LLC, requesting a waiver from Providence Zoning Ordinance Section 1607(E), Freestanding Signs, which prohibits freestanding signs in the D?1 Zone. As per Section 1601(D), the DDRC is authorized to grant a waiver to sign regulations as part of their review and approval (continued from the April 10, 2017 DDRC meeting). The applicant has requested to continue the public hearing to the next DDRC meeting scheduled for August 7, 2017 at 4:45 PM.

2. DRC Application No. 17.33: 51 Washington Street (Biltmore Garage) – Proposal by Cornish Associates to infill two garage bays on Eddy Street, as part of the installation of an electrical vault in the garage.

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Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – June 21, 2017

Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
June 21, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

Agendabpac-round

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of February 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. Approval of May 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  4. Nomination of Commission Chair (For Action)
  5. “Fountain Street Bike Lane Improvements” – Downtown – Ward 1 (For Action) — The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding potential improvements to the separated bike lane on Fountain Street. Staff will present recommendations to address issues of connectivity, collision mitigation, and clarity about parking location. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  6. “Broad Street Pedestrian Improvements” – Upper South Providence, Elmwood, Lower South Providence – Wards 9, 10, and 11 (For Action) – The City of Providence seeks comments from the BPAC regarding proposed pedestrian improvements to Broad Street submitted by the Department of Public Works. These improvements would be funded from the State Highway Safety Improvement Program. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  7. “Service Road RSA” – Upper South Providence, Federal Hill – Wards 11 and 13 (For Action) – The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the draft Road Safety Assessment for the I-95 Service Road between Atwells Avenue and Point Street completed by VHB. The RSA includes an analysis of crashes that have occurred on the Service Road from 2009-2015 as well as proposed solutions to improve safety along the corridor. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  8. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  9. Adjournment
Full Disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – June 12, 2017

Downtown Design Review Committee – Notice of Regular Meeting
Monday, June 12, 2017 – 4:45pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-roundAgenda

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of March 13, 2017, April 10, 2017, May 1, 2017 (Special Meeting), and May 8, 2017

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 16.30: 91 Chestnut Street (I-195 Redevelopment District Parcel 30) – Request by Waldorf Capital Management, LLC for modifications to the approved design of a new 6-story mixed-use apartment building to be constructed on the site. The applicant was granted final approval at the December 5, 2016 DDRC meeting.

2. DRC Application No. 17.08: 150 Empire Street (Providence Public Library) – Proposal by the Providence Public Library to conduct exterior alterations to the Empire Street building.

See also: Greater City Providence – Providence Public Library Planning Renovations

3. DRC Application No. 17.12: 350 Eddy Street (South Street Landing) – Public Hearing – The subject of the hearing will be an application by the CV Properties LLC, requesting a waiver from Providence Zoning Ordinance Section 1607(E), Freestanding Signs, which prohibits freestanding signs in the D-1 Zone. As per Section 1601(D), the DDRC is authorized to grant a waiver to sign regulations as part of their review and approval. Continued from the April 10, 2017 DRC meeting. The applicant is also requesting a waiver from Providence Zoning Ordinance Section 604(C)(4), Fences and Walls, which limits the height of fences to six (6) feet in height. As per Section 604(C)(4) the DDRC is authorized to grant a waiver to the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance relating to fences and walls. The applicant is proposing to install an approximately nine (9) foot high fence, and an approximately 30’ tall, double-faced, internally illuminated freestanding sign at 350 Eddy Street. The DRC will be reviewing the sign and fence design at this meeting.

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PBN: Providence office building on Weybosset under conversion to apartments

259 Weybosset Street, image from Google Street View

A four-story downtown office building near Johnson & Wales University is being converted to apartments and retail space.

The project at 259 Weybosset St. will include large apartments of four to five bedrooms per unit, and appears to be marketed to college students. An online ad indicates the apartments will be available in September, at rental rates of $1,100 per bedroom, or $5,500 per unit.

I like that the contractors working on this project have been able to keep the sidewalk open by providing a passageway through the scaffolding.

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PawSox Propose Private-Public Funded $83 Million Ballpark at Apex Site

Rendering of The Ballpark at Slater Mill from the PawSox

The Pawtucket Red Sox yesterday released plans to build an $83 million ballpark at the Apex site along Route 95 in Pawtucket. The plan envisions funding for the ballpark coming from the team, the State, and the City of Pawtucket.

The Pawtucket Red Sox and the City of Pawtucket, with substantial advice and direction from the leaders of the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, have reached agreement on a proposal that would keep the team in Pawtucket until at least 2050 with a 30-year lease extension if a plan for a ballpark that is designed to revitalize downtown and the riverfront is approved by the Governor and the State Legislature. The plan is today being presented to the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President of the Senate for further review and consideration.

The PawSox would pay $45 million, the largest private investment in the history of Pawtucket, according to city officials. The ballpark is estimated to cost $73 million; thus, the club would pay 61.6% of ballpark construction costs. In addition, the minority investment by the State of Rhode Island would be paid back by revenues that are generated by the ballpark and the ballclub, enabling the project to proceed with no new taxes or increases in tax rates. The project will effectively pay for itself from the revenue that it generates. Taxpayers also will be protected by the PawSox, who will take on all ballpark construction cost overruns.

A “Ballpark at Slater Mill” will be part of a larger downtown re-development project. Together, the ballpark and land are expected to cost $83 million; thus, the PawSox would pay about 54% of the entire ballpark and land cost. Even so, the public would own the ballpark and the land, continuing the city’s 75-year practice of providing a public facility. In turn, the PawSox would then pay the highest rent in the International League, increasing their rent in 2020 to $1 million, with annual increases, and devote $500,000 annually from naming rights to help finance the ballpark.

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PawSox Stadium Proposals Feature Copious Waterfront Surface Parking

WPRI reports today that the proposed stadium plan for the PawSox in Pawtucket includes a hotel and housing. What struck me about the plans though, was the parking

“Apex” (l) and “Tidewater” (r) proposals for a new PawSox Stadium in Pawtucket

You guys, seriously, when are we going to stop paving over our riverbanks?

Sigh.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – May 17, 2017

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
May 17, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Staff announcement regarding new BPAC member appointments (For Discussion)
  3. Approval of March 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  4. Approval of April 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  5. “Downtown Transit Connector” – Downtown, Upper South Providence – Wards 1, 11, and 12 (For Action) — The City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the conceptual level plans developed by RIPTA and the City for the Downtown Transit Connector—a planned high-frequency bus service that will operate between the Providence Amtrak/MBTA Station and the Hospital District in Upper South Providence. The plans include six proposed station locations, bus only lanes, pedestrian-realm improvements, and bike lanes along portions of the route. This will be a concept level review of the project scope. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  6. “Broad Street Road Safety Assessment (RSA)” – Upper South Providence, Elmwood, Lower South Providence, Washington Park – Wards 9, 10, and 11 (For Action) – The City of Providence seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the draft Broad Street Road Safety Assessment completed by VHB. The RSA includes an analysis of crashes that have occurred on Broad Street from 2009-2015 as well as proposed solutions to improve safety along the corridor. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  7. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  8. Adjournment
Full disclosure, I am a member of this Commission.
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Developer Proposes Demolition of Historic Fire House in Pawtucket to Build a Family Dollar Store

Image from Google Street View

As reported by The Valley Breeze:

Hose Company No. 6, a former popular restaurant at 636 Central Ave., could be coming down to make way for a new Family Dollar store, city officials confirmed this week.

On April 7, the Pawtucket Historic District Commission received an application from Barone Capital LLC for a certificate of appropriateness associated with the proposed demolition of former Fire Station #6, said Jay Rosa, senior planner for the city.

The property has no local or national historic designation, said Rosa, but the Historic District Commission does review all proposals in which 25 percent or more of a structure that is at least 50 years old is scheduled for demolition.

The building was constructed in 1895. There is a public meeting of the Historic District Commission in May 9th at 7:30pm at Pawtucket City Hall.

This is a rendering of the proposed Family Dollar store:

Image from The Valley Breeze

The rendering indicates they plan to use the existing surface lot that sits next to the fire house, so why do they need to tear down this gem exactly? As I said on Twitter, Family Dollar is a menace.

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“River View Hotel and Gallery” proposed for 195 east side parcel

Proposed ‘River View Hotel and Gallery’ on 195 District Parcel 1A

At last night’s 195 Commission Meeting, Cambridge, Mass. based GNF Associates presented plans for a 5-story, 52-room boutique hotel at 195 District Parcel 1A on the east bank of the Providence River.

The Providence Journal reports:

The proposed “River View Hotel” would be a five-story building of approximately 30,000 square feet. Fandetti said many of the rooms and suites would offer terraces with views of the water. The plans also call for an 1,800-square-foot art gallery, a 50-plus-seat restaurant with an outdoor terrace, a cafe/bar and 16 to 20 parking spaces.

[…]

The architectural concepts presented include “a strong street side presence via art gallery, cafe and restaurant; extensive use of brick to harmonize with existing buildings in the area; step back from the river to open up space at the boardwalk and river; and many hotel rooms will have open terraces to take advantage of the river view and view of downtown.”

Providence Business News reports:

In a brief presentation to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission Monday, Gerald Fandetti said he wanted to build an arts-infused boutique hotel in Providence that would fit into the small site fronting the river. It would incorporate the public park running along the river, and be an inviting presence, he said. The proposed art gallery would include the work of Rhode Island School of Design students and faculty, he said, and draw on the artists in the region.

[…]

The schematic design includes a two-level restaurant and art gallery at streetside, with curtain walls of glass that would be inviting to pedestrians. The floors above would be tiered back from the river in levels, allowing for guest rooms and open terraces that overlook the river and Downtown Providence.

That design is so damn retro I feel like I have to like it. What it looks like from South Water Street is a very important question. I’d also like to see a rendering of it from afar, it sits all by itself right on the riverbank, feels weird.

I think this is also the thousandth proposed or under-construction hotel in the city.

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