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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

News & Notes

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Image (cc) pedbikeimages.org by Barbara Gossett

CityLab: The Real Downtown ‘Parking Problem’: There’s Too Much of It

It’s not unusual for people to worry about parking in places where they totally don’t need to worry about parking. The consultancy Nelson\Nygaard recently surveyed parking availability in 27 mixed-use districts across the U.S. and found that parking supply exceeded demand by an average of 65 percent. In nine areas where parking was thought to be scarce, the oversupply ranged from 6 to 82 percent.


Vox: Houston just dramatically improved its mass transit system without spending a dime

How is Houston able to pull that off with no additional funding?

Well, as Jarrett Walker, one of the plan’s lead designers, explains, it’s all about prioritizing routes that will plausibly attract riders. The old system, like many bus routes in the United States, expended a lot of resources on very low-ridership routes for the sake of saying there’s “a bus that goes there.” The new plan says the focus should be to provide reasonably frequent service on routes where reasonably frequent service will attract riders. That does mean that some people are further than ever from a transit stop. But it means that many more Houstonians will find themselves near a useful transit stop.

Focusing transit planning on the goal of promoting transit services that are actually used strikes me as common sense. But it’s also the best way to create a virtuous circle of sound urban planning and transportation management. A system with a lot of riders is a system with a lot of advocates for expansion and improvement.


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More PawSox News

victory-place-pawsox-rendering

Rendering of a theoretical Victory Place stadium for the PawSox in the Jewelry District.

ProJo: PawSox owner Lucchino scouts Victory Place site

PawSox principal owner Larry Lucchino late Wednesday afternoon walked among the weeds of the Victory Place property in the Jewelry District as he looked for options to the team’s search for a new ballpark site.

[…]

Lucchino decided to look at the privately-owned Victory Place site in the Jewelry District, he said, after the people who packed a Tuesday forum on the Pawtucket Red Sox ballpark plan once again brought up the site as an alternative to the team’s preferred Providence River site.


ProJo: Federal agency insists on reimbursement if park land used for PawSox stadium

Months after the Pawtucket Red Sox first raised the prospect of building a baseball stadium in downtown Providence, discussions between state and federal officials continue about whether it’s permissible to commit the team’s preferred site to a private use.

If the site set aside years ago to become a public park is used for a commercial enterprise, the Federal Highway Administration would ask the state to repay the fair market value of that land, FHWA spokesman Doug Hecox told The Providence Journal.

The Feds aren’t liking giving the PawSox free land I guess. Feds might also be looking for money if we don’t end up building the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge, sigh.


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ProJo: URI rescinds parking fee after graduate assistants launch protest

uri

Photo from Graduate Assistants United Facebook Page.

About 25 graduate assistants at the University of Rhode Island rallied Tuesday afternoon to protest what their union leader says have been repeated attempts charge them for parking.

The students — some carrying a banner that read “Big Thinkers Deserve More” — stood outside a third-floor hallway in Roosevelt Hall where negotiators for the college and the union were scheduled to meet.

The protest followed a recent posting on URI’s website stating that graduate assistants who commuted to campus and were previously allowed to park for free would be charged $100 for a permit, said Danielle Dirocco, executive director of Graduate Assistants United, which represents over 500 of unionized teaching, research and departmental assistants. The union filed a grievance stating the fee violated their contract.

I’ve seen this news hailed by some as a great progressive victory over the man on social media. My view? Big thinkers don’t pave farm land for free parking.

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Downtown Design Review Committee Special Meeting – August 17, 2015

featured-drc Downtown Design Review Committee Special Meeting
Monday, August 17, 2015 – 12noon
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call

New Business

  • Memorandum of Understanding between the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and the Downtown Design Review Committee with respect to design review.

Adjournment

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Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting – August 4, 2015

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 • 8:00 am
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

Agenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Meetings of May 19, 2015 and June 16, 2015
  3. Parcel 12
    Presentation of revised plans for the construction of a new hotel on the property.
  4. Adjournment
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ProJo: Tax-break plan for proposed Providence hotel to get a hearing July 23

Fogarty Building

As part of that effort, the developers are asking the City Council to approve an ordinance that would exempt the project from property taxes for three years. Starting in the fourth year of the agreement, the project owners would pay 11 percent of the total taxes due, with the amount then going up by 11 percentage points a year until year 12, when 95 percent of the taxes would be due, followed by full taxation after that.

Though the City Council is a vote away from enacting a tax-treaty process for developers in the Route 195 corridor that doesn’t need council approval, for the rest of the city, the old rules, which include public hearings and multiple council votes, still apply.

Though the Fogarty Building’s destruction has been contemplated many times over the last several years — Procaccianti took out a demolition permit in 2011 but didn’t use it — the Fogarty Building has had its defenders. It is one of the city’s few surviving examples of the “brutalist” architectural style, which features exposed concrete and angular, fortress-like designs. The name comes from the French word for raw concrete, not physical brutality.

This morning, the Procaccianti owned Old Public Safety Building Memorial Parking Lot™ has site fencing covering most of it, I don’t know why.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – July 21, 2015

CPC City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from June 16, 2015 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Development Review Regulations

1. Amendment of Development Review Regulations – A discussion on the amendments to the City Plan Commission’s Development Review Regulations – for discussion

Zoning Ordinance Amendment

2. Referral 3394 – Zoning Ordinance Amendment regarding student homes – Proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance to create regulations for student homes – for action

City Council Referral

3. Referral 3395 – Abandonment of DeWolf Street1 – The applicant is requesting to abandon the entirety of DeWolf Street, which lies between Audrey Street and Appleton Street to merge it with their abutting property – for action (Olneyville)

Minor Subdivision

4. Case No. 15-024 MI – 32 Luke Street (Preliminary plan approval) – The applicant is proposing to subdivide a lot measuring approximately 15,912 SF into two lots measuring approximately 5,000 SF and 10,912 SF – for action (AP 97 Lot 948, Charles)

5. Case No. 15-028 MI – 342 Eddy Street (Preliminary and Final plan approval)2

sga-south-street-landing-parking-garage

Rendering of proposed parking garage at South Street Landing by SGA.

The applicant is proposing to create a new lot measuring approximately one acre from Lot 429 which measures approximately 6.5 acres. The applicant is requesting to combine the preliminary and final plan stages – for action (AP 21 Lot 429, Downtown)

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ProJo: DOT seeks permission to move RIPTA commuter lot in North Kingstown

route-2-102-ripta-wickford

Image from Google Streetview

RIDOT is still discussing merging the RIPTA park and ride at Routes 2 and 102 with the parking facility at Wickford Junction MBTA station, a mile away.

“The property’s highest and best use is not as a parking lot,” said Paul Carcieri, the DOT’s real estate specialist. “It’s a very valuable property.”

Approximately $1.9 million dollars valuable.

Committee members are concerned about whether moving the Park-n-Ride roughly a mile to Wickford Junction would make it less convenient to RIPTA users, whether bus riders who park at the MBTA garage would be guaranteed free parking as they get now and whether the garage operator would keep the facility open as needed by RIPTA users — on weekends, for instance.

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2015 Burnside Music Series + Beer Garden starts Thursday, July 9, 2015

kennedy-plaza-beer-garden

The Kennedy Plaza Beer Garden is back! Starting this Thursday, July 9th and every Thursday through September 10th in Burnside Park. More information from Greater Kennedy Plaza:


2015 Burnside Music Series + Beer Garden

The time is nigh, friends, and not a moment too soon! Join us every Thursday this summer for beautiful times in Burnside Park, replete with delightful bevs by Trinity Brewhouse, delicious food by Rhode Island’s greatest food trucks, casual jams by celebrity DJs, and of course, the finest tunes Rhode Island has to offer, courtesy of a kaleidoscopic array of astounding musicians.

Each and every Thursday, July 9 – September 10, the Trinity Beer Garden will open for business at 4:30 pm. Mill about and sip sangria to the melodious sounds of DJ LaRochelle from 4:30 – 6pm, and enjoy live music from 6 – 7pm.

We are getting our groove on just thinking about our first act SALSA Y GAITAS, who graced us with their sultry music during the Providence International Arts Fest! Salsa with Sangria, what better way to kick off the Summer Season?!

Rendezvous in front of the fountain! Treat yourself, Providence! You’re worth it!

See the Facebook event page for the full summer line-up of music.
Full disclosure: I am on the Board of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and my employer, Cornish Associates, is sponsoring this week’s Beer Garden.
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Cornish Associates purchases The Providence Journal Building with Boston partner

75 Fountain Street – Image from Google Streetview

In a press release out today, Cornish Associates announces that they’ve purchased The Providence Journal Building and two neighboring parking lots with their partner, Norblom Company of Boston.


Nordblom Company and Cornish Associates Purchase The Providence Journal Building

Nordblom Company and Cornish Associates are pleased to announce their joint purchase of the historic Providence Journal Building located at 75 Fountain Street in the heart of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. This purchase also includes two adjoining parking lots at 78 Fountain Street and 1 Eddy Street. The Seller was A.H. Belo, who had owned these three properties and the newspaper until its sale in late 2014. The CBRE team, lead by Senior Vice President/Partner Alden Anderson, oversaw the transaction.

The building affords exceptional space in a terrific city location. Directly across the street from the Convention Center and Omni Providence Hotel, it also overlooks Kennedy Plaza, generally considered the heart of the city and the state’s transportation hub. Other notable neighbors include the Dunkin’ Donuts Center and the 1 million square foot Providence Place Mall. The location also benefits from proximity to the flourishing retail stores and restaurants throughout downcity.

Cornish and Nordblom plan to commence immediately with improvements to the building. Their plan includes modernizing and revitalizing this iconic property while offering leases to a broad cross section of tenants ranging from full-floor users to 2-5,000 square foot occupants. With the building’s large windows and tall, bright spaces, it will provide exceptional new offices at very competitive rents in the marketplace. This is the first time, since its construction, that significant space has been available in this property and it offers an extraordinary opportunity for a wide range of prospective tenants. When renovations are complete at the close of 2015, the building will feature 160,000 square feet of renovated office space as well as over 10,000 square feet of restaurant/retail space facing the newly re-designed Emmet Square.

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News on the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge

providence-river-pedestrian-bridge-001

The Providence Journal: Pedestrian bridge over Providence River being ‘reevaluated’ by RI transportation officials

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation is now “reevaluating” the bridge project, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti Jr. said in a statement in response to questions from The Providence Journal.

“Given our current funding levels, RIDOT is reevaluating this project given the availability of funding,” Alviti wrote. “RIDOT must take into consideration the many needs for Rhode Island’s deficient bridges and deteriorated roadways. With reliable, predictable funding provided through the RhodeWorks program, RIDOT would be in a better position to schedule and fund projects such as the pedestrian bridge.”

The Feds let us use the money we’d save on not removing the piers in the river on the new highway. Will the Feds make us remove the piers if we don’t build the bridge?

Salisbury said his association would be “really disappointed” if the bridge isn’t built — plus, he questions what would happen to the old highway piers that once carried Route 195 over the river and now remain in the river, intended to carry the pedestrian bridge along the highway’s old path. Seven years ago, the DOT agreed to build the pedestrian bridge on those piers — and said the $2 million it would save by not demolishing them would go toward building the bridge. The DOT has already paid $1.4 million to design the pedestrian bridge, which was expected to cost $5.5 million.


Also, last week, PBN reported on possible changes to the design of the bridge.

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission – June 17, 2015

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
June 17, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor
  1. Roll call
  2. Introduction of new Commission members
  3. Update from Planning Department on planned crosswalk across Dave Gavitt Way at Westminster Street
  4. Approval of meeting minutes from April Commission meeting
  5. Introduction of new RI Bicycle Coalition staff
  6. Discussion of improved connections between Providence Place Mall and East Bay Bike Path
  7. Discussion of Health Equity Zone (HEZ) grant received by Healthy Communities Office from the RI Department of Health
  8. Adjournment
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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