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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

WPRI: Major life-sciences complex proposed for 195 land

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Life-sciences complex proposed for Parcels 22 and 25. Image from Google Maps.

Two private developers – Wexford Science & Technology LLC and CV Properties LLC – submitted a proposal last week to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission seeking approval for a million-square-foot-plus multi-use project on parcel 22 and parcel 25 of the vacant former highway land, WPRI.com confirmed Wednesday.

“It is a major life sciences complex that includes lab space, academic research space, a hotel with meeting space and residential and retail components,” Eric Cote, a spokesman for CV Properties, told WPRI.com.

“It is a very large proposed complex,” he said. “The size that it may ultimately be will depend on our discussions with the 195 Commission, so it could change, but it’s currently envisioned as a project in excess of 1 million square feet.

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Performers announced for June Providence International Arts Festival #PVDfest

providence-festival

At a press conference yesterday, Mayor Elorza announced some of the performers that will be part of the 1st Annual Providence International Arts Festival, June 11-14, 2015. Below is a long press release from the Mayor’s Office. Also find information at pvdfestival.com:


The Providence International Arts Festival Extensive Artist Roster Announced

Mayor Elorza Announces Artist Roster for Signature Festival to Showcase Local, National and International Artists

Mayor Jorge Elorza and FirstWorks Executive Artistic Director Kathleen Pletcher today announced the artist roster for the PROVIDENCE INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL set for June 13th, 2015, with extended events taking place June 11th-14th. In this first-ever signature event, arts and culture stage a friendly takeover of the city with 500 artists, 30 public art installations, 15 stages, 18 participating venues, 6 outdoor bars, 3 jaw dropping spectacles, and much more. The dramatic scale and scope of this marquee Festival in the “Creative Capital” of Rhode Island is due to the public-private partnership forged between the City’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and FirstWorks, a Providence-based non-profit organization dedicated to building community through the arts. Festival lead sponsors include the National Endowment for the Arts, Providence Tourism Council, the Rhode Island Foundation, along with key support from IGT (formerly GTECH), and The Avenue Concept. All main Festival events are free and open to the public.

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Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting – May 19, 2015

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 19, 2015 • 8:00am
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

Agenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes – Meetings of January 20, 2015, March 17, 2015 and April 21, 2015
  3. Francis Street & Memorial Boulevard Intersection Safety Improvements
    Continued review of proposed safety improvements.
  4. Adjournment

There’s not really any safety improvements to the Memorial and Francis intersection (which is a pedestrian nightmare). It is basically to further keep people from walking along the side along the Omni and getting killed crossing the ramp traffic. No changes to the roadway to make anything safer.

francis-memorial-001

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Warwick Beacon: RI Mall won’t house outlets

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Rhode Island Mall. Image from Bing.

Outlet stores won’t be coming to Warwick.

On Thursday, Adam Winstanley of Winstanley Enterprise LLC confirmed reports the proposal to convert Rhode Island Mall into an outlet mall has been abandoned and that the company has a contract to sell the property, which as Midland Mall was the state’s first suburban mall.

Winstanley sees Rhode Island Mall as “coming back as a big box mall,” meaning in place of smaller stores congregated around a couple of anchor stores, there would be five or six larger stores. He put those stores at between 40,000 and 60,000 square feet each.

Because we all know what a sure bet big box stores have been over the last decade.

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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – May 11, 2015

featured-drc Downtown Design Review Committee
Monday, May 11, 2015 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes of March 9, 2015

New Business

44-hospital

1. DRC Application No. 13.13: 44 Hospital Street Proposal by 44 Hospital Street, LLC to demolish the existing structure located at 44 Hospital Street, and to construct a new six?story mixed?use building on the site. The applicant was granted a waiver for demolition of the existing building and conceptual approval of the new design at the July 8, 2013 DRC meeting. The applicant is returning to the DRC for final design review.

Adjournment


The Jewelry District Association posted some information and renderings (more at the link) last week. It is hard to judge from the line drawing what the building will look like exactly, but it appears to have a good mass and handsome proportions.

Unfortunately, this is set to replace an existing building, so no net gain in built lots.

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Elorza updates street sweeping plans

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Photo from Mayor Elorza’s Facebook page

Mayor Elorza held a press conference this morning to provide an update on the street sweeping schedule. I asked on Twitter about prohibiting parking during scheduled street sweeping.


I did take it upon myself to sweep the street in front of my house a few weeks ago, but the rest of my block remains littered with detritus even after the street sweepers went by because no one knew they were coming.

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

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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.

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News & Notes – PawSox Edition

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PawSox dugout at McCoy Stadium. Photo (cc) Eric Kilby

WPRI: Lucchino responds to skepticism over proposed Providence ballpark

Lucchino, one of the team’s new owners, said the project is a clear economic engine for the local economy, and not just through baseball.

“We have to build a ballpark that has multiple uses, that can attract football and could attract concerts, that can have some art events at the thing,” he said. “Make it an major civic center for Providence.”

[…]

Lucchino believes the new park will not only boost the economy, but also revitalize downtown Providence. He hopes to bring a million people to the capital city by generating small businesses and jobs.


PBN: Pawsox greeted by skeptical I-195 commission and audience

Owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox presented a detailed plan for moving the AAA team to downtown Providence Monday, earning a skeptical if not critical reception from the commission that controls the site the team wants for its new ballpark.

In questions posed during the meeting of the Interstate 195 Redevelopment District Commission, commissioners questioned both the public cost and the tax benefits of the proposed development, and whether the state could find a more effective use for the site to attract highly desirable high-tech or life sciences development to the I-195 lands.

The question of other uses seems odd, so far as I know we still haven’t found a way out of the federal requirement for park land at this location.


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PBN: Union Trust Co. building sold

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The Union Trust Co. Building aka The Federal Reserve Building. Image from Google Maps

I think most of us know this as the Federal Reserve Building, or, where the Dorrance is.

The landmark Union Trust Co. building downtown has been sold to the development group that produced the Providence G complex, with plans to convert its offices to apartments.

The building, at 170 Westminster St., includes The Dorrance restaurant on the ground floor. The restaurant will remain, and a second floor converted to commercial space. The remaining 10 floors of the mid-rise building will be renovated over five years into rental apartments, according to Brendan Moran, property manager for both the Providence G complex and the Union Trust building.

The article says the full renovation will take 5-years, but they plan to start leasing the end of this year, which seems weird. It will be nice to have another 60 units downtown.

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Johnson & Wales University begins work on 195 parcel

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As reported in PBN and editorialized about in the ProJo, Johnson & Wales University has begun site work on their new academic building. This will be the first thing built on former Route 195 land.


Providence Business News: JWU begins site prep for $40M academic building downtown

Construction is expected to be completed by July 2016 and is expected to be the first development on the former Interstate-195 lands in Providence, which were made available following the relocation of the highway. The university purchased the site in 2012.

The project will place a 71,000-square-foot building at the corner of Friendship and Chestnut streets, and will house the university’s School of Engineering and Design, and College of Arts and Sciences biology program.


The Providence Journal: Editorial: Breaking new ground

This activity on the former highway land, coupled with nearby plans for a University of Rhode Island/Rhode Island College nursing education center and administrative space for Brown University in the former South Street Power Station, provides a ray of hope for a city and state that are looking to turn around the local economy and give college graduates and young professionals a reason to stay here. Add a new AAA ballpark, if feasible, and that neighborhood would be an extraordinary economic force.

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April School Vacation at Providence Children’s Museum

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April 20 – 24

Providence Children’s Museum is the BEST place for school vacation fun! The Museum is open during vacation, Monday, April 20 – Friday, February 24, from 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Families explore Water Ways, an imaginative new water play environment, and join special activities all week long:

Mad Science: Marvels of Motion

Monday, April 20 • 1:00 & 2:00 PM
Witness mesmerizing experiments exploring the laws of motion in this mind-bending interactive show. Discover the science of gravity and balance, see mad scientists experiment with kinetic beads, and watch as a tablecloth is removed without clearing the table! Shows at 1:00 & 2:00 PM; recommended for ages 4 and up.

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PawSox Providence Stadium Proposal

Updating…

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ProJo: Developer considers mixed-use plan for Louttit site in S. Providence

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Site of former Loutit / What Cheer Steam Laundry

A Rhode Island development firm has plans for a $10-million mixed-use project on a vacant South Providence industrial site.

Bourne Avenue Capital Partners, an offshoot of New England Construction Co. Inc., of East Providence, wants to undertake the project on land that for decades was home to the Louttit Laundry operation. The last portion of the long, two-story Louttit building was demolished in 2008.

[…]

Sluter envisions a multi-story building ranging from 35,000 to 50,000 square feet with ground-floor commercial space and 30 to 45 apartments on the upper floors. He has a tentative agreement with a food cooperative to be the first-floor anchor tenant.

After a 2001 fire, the Loutit / What Cheer Steam Laundry building was demolished 2008. Plans for redevelopment of the site were proposed by SWAP and WBNA and probably others, but the recession laid waste to all plans.

See also: ArtInRuins: Loutit / What Cheer Steam Laundry
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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – April 15, 2015

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
April 15, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Agenda

  1. Roll call
  2. Approval of meeting minutes from March Commission meeting
  3. Discussion of possible Roger Williams loop road closure
  4. Discussion of ideas for improving pedestrian and bicycle conditions generated from February Commission meeting
  5. Discussion and review of DPW plans for Pleasant Valley Parkway, Smith Street, Charles Street, Elmwood Avenue, Valley Street, River Road, Smithfield Avenue, and Washington Street
  6. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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PawSox Baseball Stadium News

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Proposed site of PawSox stadium. Image from Google Maps

PBN reports on PawSox President James J. Skeffington’s tour of the riverfront land in the Jewelry District he proposes to build a new home for the PawSox on:

In a tour of the site, overlooking College Hill and the Providence skyline, attorney James J. Skeffington said consultants had determined the seven-acre proposed site will support the baseball park that team owners want to build.

In addition, he said, team owners have reached an agreement to use the parking garage planned for the South Street Landing project, now under construction on an adjacent site. Under the plan, the parking garage will be enlarged to 750 spaces, to accommodate the baseball traffic, he said, and the PawSox owners will contribute financially to its construction.

The parking garage at South Street Landing has sought relief from City Zoning requiring ground floor retail uses in parking structures. With the increased size of the structure and the increased diversity of visitors (they won’t mostly be Nursing School students presumably) there should be no reason for the garage developers not to conform to City zoning regulations.

ProJo also has a report:

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ProJo: Developers say lack of state support stalled project for I-195 land

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A lawyer and a doctor who hoped to build life-sciences laboratories on former highway land in the capital city have given up on their efforts because they say they haven’t received necessary state support.

Timothy H. Ehrlich, a Boston lawyer who represents biotechnology companies, and Dr. Johannes Fruehauf, president of the Cambridge Biolabs project in Massachusetts, pitched a Providence Biolabs project last June to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. They hoped to encourage start-up companies to develop into viable entities whose scientific research might lead to new treatments for diseases and might otherwise improve people’s health.

“We had to suspend our Providence Biolabs initiative when it became clear that there was not sufficient state support available to bring a shared laboratory to Providence,” Fruehauf told The Providence Journal.

This article does not have any comment from the Governor’s office and only a non-specific comment from the 195 Commission’s spokesperson, so take that as you will. It however does not sound very good.

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ProJo: State seeks contractor to evaluate possible consolidation of R.I. transportation agencies

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RIDOT work on the Providence Viaduct, March 2014

Is there a new transportation super-agency in Rhode Island’s future? Perhaps.

On March 25, the new Raimondo administration quietly opened bids for a contract to provide “Transportation Management Assessment and Review Services.”

Among the stated “goals of this investigation”: to take a step-back look at the effectiveness of having multiple state agencies operate different pieces of Rhode Island’s transportation network, from the ports and airports, to the RIPTA bus routes and road-builders.

It would be very helpful if RIDOT and RIPTA were more integrated on projects; if there was always a mass transit person at the table when RIDOT work was being planned. It is a little worrying that RIPTA could be merged with an agency that still has not proven that it can move beyond car-first thinking when it comes to transportation.

It is not just RIPTA and RIDOT though, airport manangement, port management, and Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (which controls our bridges and tolls) could all be merged into a larger transportation agency.

It all comes down to how it is structured of course. It will be interesting to see what the conclusions of the review are.

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