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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

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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Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – April 19, 2017

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

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of February 2017 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. “Woonasquatucket Greenway – Glenbridge Avenue Enhancements” – Hartford, Olneyville, Manton – Wards 6 and 7 (For Action) — The City of Providence Department of Public Works is in the process of preparing preliminary plans for improvements to Glenbridge Avenue between Hartford and Manton avenues. Prior to submission of the preliminary plans to the BPAC, the City seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the scope and nature of these potential improvements. This will be a concept level review of the project scope. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  4. “Gano Gateway”– Fox Point – Ward 1 (For Action) – The City of Providence Department of Planning and Development seeks comments from the BPAC regarding the potential alternatives that have been developed by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for improving Gano Street between Trenton Street and Tockwotton Street. This will be a concept level review of the project. When advanced in the future, this project will come back to the BPAC for preliminary plan review.
  5. Announcement from the Chair (For Discussion)
  6. Nomination of a BPAC Vice-Chair (For Action)
  7. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  8. Adjournment
Full Disclosure: I am a member of this commission.
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Next Stop: Making Transit Work for RI with Jarrett Walker

Last month, Grow Smart Rhode Island invited transportation expert Jarrett Walker to Providence for a transportation forum.

Jarrett Walker shares his observations about Rhode Island’s transit system, how it compares with other metros its size and offer some preliminary recommendations for shaping a system that gets more Rhode Islanders – and visitors – where they need to go when they need to get there, conveniently, quickly and affordably. We’ll hear how RIPTA and other public transit agencies are adapting to and leveraging new technologies and how some are partnering with the private sector to extend their reach or to create new transit-oriented development that helps to pay for transit improvements and operations.

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Providence Public Library Planning Renovations

Proposed LED sign panels on the Providence Public Library facade

The Providence Public Library is planning a major renovation to their Empire Street building.

Providence Public Library (PPL) is planning to undertake the state’s largest-ever library renovation beginning later this year. The project will address required life safety systems upgrades, as well as make major infrastructure improvements to PPL’s downtown buildings. The approximately 85,000-square foot project will transform the Library’s 1950s wing, auditorium, and special collection areas to provide 21st-century library services for Providence and Rhode Island residents.

Read more about the PPL planned renovations on their website.

The proposed LED screens on the Empire Street facade of the building (shown rendered at the top of this post) is causing some sturm und drang among some preservationist and others. Providence Business News reports on the controversy. Personally, I kind of like the screens. I’m all about more light and signs downtown, especially proximate to LaSalle Square.

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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – March 13, 2017

Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting
Notice of Regular Meeting
Monday, March 13, 2017 4:45pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-round

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of 1/9/17

New Business

View of proposed building as seen from the corner of Washington and Mathewson Streets (Cube3 Architects)

1. DRC Application No. 17.07: 66 Fountain Street and 78 Fountain Street (commercial building and parking lot) – Public Hearing – The subject of the hearing will be an application by 78 Fountain JV Owner LLC, to demolish the existing structure located at 66 Fountain Street, and to construct a new 6?story, mixed?use building on the site at 78 Fountain Street. The applicant is requesting a Downtown District Demolition Waiver (Zoning Ordinance Section 1907.2), and a waiver from Zoning Ordinance Section 606.E.1 Building Facades/Ground Floor Transparency. At the conclusion of the hearing, the DDRC will take action with respect to these items.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – February 15, 2017

Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
February 15, 2017, 4:45 PM
Doorley Municipal Building, 444 Westminster Street, First Floor, Providence, RI 02903

bpac-roundAgenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Approval of November 2016 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  3. Approval of December 2016 Meeting Minutes (For Action)
  4. Recommendations for improving the intersection of Canal Street and Park Row– College Hill, Downtown – Ward 12 (For Action) – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation, in coordination with the City of Providence, has conducted a Road Safety Assessment (RSA) for the intersection of Canal Street and Park Row. The draft recommendations of the RSA are being presented to the Commission for initial review. This review shall serve as the Commission’s initial concept level review of the project. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the Commission for preliminary plan review.
  5. Recommendations for improving Mount Pleasant Avenue – Mount Pleasant – Ward 5 (For Action) – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation, in coordination with the City of Providence, has conducted a Road Safety Assessment (RSA) for Mount Pleasant Avenue Smith Street and Beaufort Street. The draft recommendations of the RSA are being presented to the Commission for initial review. This review shall serve as the Commission’s initial concept level review of the project. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the Commission for preliminary plan review.
  6. Discussion of city-owned signalized intersections relative to expanding automatic pedestrian recall program (For Discussion)
  7. Overview of upcoming Woonasquatucket Greenway Extension (Promenade/Kinsley) project by DPD staff – Valley, Smith Hill – Wards 12 and 15 (For Discussion) This item is for discussion only and is not intended to serve as the Commission’s formal review of the project. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the Commission for concept level review and preliminary plan review.
  8. Overview of upcoming City Walk project by DPD staff – Downtown, Fox Point, West End, Upper South Providence, Lower South Providence, Elmwood, Reservoir, Washington Park, South Elmwood – Wards 1, 8, 9, 10, and 11 (For Discussion) – This item is for discussion only and is not intended to serve as the Commission’s formal review of the project. If advanced in the future, this project will come back to the Commission for concept level review and preliminary plan review.
  9. Announcements and Staff Updates (For Discussion)
  10. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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ProJo: 6-story building, grocery store, proposed for downtown Providence parking lot

Image from Google Maps

A developer is planning to construct a six-story building on what is now a downtown parking lot with residences upstairs, a restaurant facing Fountain Street and a 5,000- to 10,000-square-foot grocery store fronting Washington Street.

[…]

[Arnold B.] Chace said this will be the first time that he has built a new building from scratch downtown. His past projects involved the revitalization of historic buildings.

And therein lies a challenge: creating “a modern building that’s harmonious with the downtown historic fabric,” Chace said.

Full disclusure: I work for the developer, Cornish Associates.
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The Valley Breeze: PawSox looking at Apex property for new stadium

Image from Google Maps

Owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are analyzing the Apex property on the city’s riverfront as one of several possible sites other than McCoy Stadium for a future new baseball venue.

Three sources confirmed this week that discussions about the Apex site are happening. Though the existing stadium is part of an ongoing feasibility study, they say the owners are also considering a location with more development potential around it.

I think it is a great site for a stadium and would have a better opportunity for spin-off effect on businesses in Pawtucket than the current McCoy location. However, we’ll have to see what the public funding ask is. Also, as with the Providence proposal, a big question is, what would happen to the empty McCoy?

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Providence Capital Improvement Plan

Dean Street sidewalk work in 2009

You may remember the Mayor and City Council could not come to an agreement on a bond issue for this last year. So here’s this.

Press Release from the Mayor’s Office:


Mayor Elorza Announces Comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

CIP submitted as part of the agenda for the next City Planning Commission Meeting

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Elorza today announced a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan to be submitted and vetted as part of the budget process in Providence.

“The presentation of this Capital Improvement Plan is part of my continuing commitment to long-term planning throughout the city,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “By outlining a 5-year plan, we can be proactive about repairs and maintenance, instead of waiting until things break to fix them. This plan achieves that goal and outlines the projects we need to invest in to keep our city strong from the ground up.”

The City’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan is a five-year program of planned improvements to Providence’s public infrastructure. The goal of the CIP is to facilitate and coordinate future capital improvements within the City’s current and future financial framework while creating a predictable and appropriate list of planned investments.

“We commend Mayor Elorza and his administration for taking an important step in planning for the city’s capital improvement needs,” said Council President Luis Aponte. “Our hope is for a plan that understands and addresses the infrastructure needs of each neighborhood equitably, and we look forward to reviewing this plan at length in once it’s presented to the City Council.”

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