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Author Archive | Jef Nickerson

Providence International Arts Festival June 11-14, 2015

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October 2012 FirstWorks Festival in Kennedy Plaza, Photo: Providence Department of Arts, Culture, + Tourism.

From the City of Providence:


Providence International Arts Festival To Bring World-Class Experience To Residents & Visitors June 11th – 14th, 2015

Providence, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza and FirstWorks are pleased to announce the Providence International Arts Festival taking place June 11th – 14th, 2015. Building off of Providence’s international recognition as a creative city, this first-ever signature event will be a jaw-dropping celebration featuring world-class arts, sculpture, music, food and spectacle in the heart of the city’s downtown. The centerpiece of Festival activities is Saturday, June 13, 2015 with events beginning on Kennedy Plaza at 4pm.

“This festival will be a way to connect the world-class talent we have here in Providence with artists and performers from around the world,” said Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza, “We are excited to welcome visitors to the City to explore all that we have to offer and look forward to partnering with so many great organizations and artists.”

The Providence International Arts Festival will literally transform the city with international artists in visual art, sculpture, music, public art, civic dialogue, educational workshops, community play, spectacle and parade. The Festival will be centralized around program hubs that unify the downtown into an arts corridor – PVD City Hall, FirstWorks on the Plaza, Public Art Transformations, Empire Street Gateway, and the Washington Street Corridor. Opening ceremonies will feature a specially commissioned first work, One Voice by Dr. Clarice LaVerne Thompson with RPM Voices of Rhode Island and a stunning 800 voices in a procession to City Hall from all points of the compass to kick-off the festivities at 6pm on Saturday, June 13, 2015.

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Because Pawtucket doesn’t have enough parking

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From The Valley Breeze, prepare for brain explosion:

Two old buildings that are part of the Downtown Pawtucket Historic District will be leveled to make way for parking.

The 1921 Adams Furniture building, at 65 East Ave., and the 1902 former Pawtucket Boys Club, at 53 East Ave., are both expected to be demolished to make room for a new parking lot for the Blackstone Valley Community Health Care.

Because you know what makes for a healthy community? Lots and lots of surface parking.

I can’t even.

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Providence Station Plaza improvement work commences

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RIDOT has begun work at Providence Station. This is improvements to the existing station area, the bus proposed bus terminal that had bond money approved for by voters last November is still in planning and development.

From RIDOT:


RIDOT Begins Work on Providence Station Improvement Project

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) started work this week to upgrade the southern entrance plaza (downtown side) of Providence Station. Through a $6.9 million contract with J.H. Lynch & Sons, planned improvements will enhance circulation for all users of the station as well as create an inviting civic space. Pedestrian enhancements will also be made along Gaspee Street, and damaged concrete and limestone areas on the building’s plaza will be repaired. Other planned improvements include adding amenities for bicyclists, updating signage, and landscaping.

This work, which will be broken out into two phases, will require temporary restrictions, including a closure of the top level of the parking garage, a relocation of the taxi stands, and a closure of portions of Railroad Street and Park Row West. Project completion is scheduled for spring 2016.

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ProJo: Raimondo administration steps up role on I-195 land

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State officials are looking at the wisdom of adding to the land that falls under control of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and the feasibility of allowing a stadium on the vacant state property in downtown Providence.

[…]

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, which Pryor leads as commerce secretary, last Friday began the search for a consultant to help devise a real-estate development strategy for the land opened by the highway relocation project.

The agency released a request for proposal that contemplates the highway commission controlling development of property adjacent to the highway corridor in downtown Providence, as well as evaluating “special purpose uses” for the land, including “athletic/stadium/entertainment facilities, structured parking, etc.” The request was made in conjunction with the commission and the City of Providence.

It is good that this Governor is actively working to develop this land. I do however worry about the State’s involvement in developing downtown. I don’t have too much faith in the understanding of urbanism and what makes a good city at the State level (Exhibit 1: State House surface parking).

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House and Senate Committees to consider bills mandating bridge sidewalk snow removal

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Route 95 clear after Blizzard of 2015, Broadway Bridge sidewalks, not so much.

Committees of the Rhode Island General Assembly House and Senate will consider bills this Wednesday, March 25th, to mandate that RIDOT remove snow from roads and sidewalk under their control, including overpasses in Providence:


House Finance Committee:

House Bill No. 5349
BY Blazejewski
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO HIGHWAYS – SIDEWALKS {LC1086/1} (Requires the DOT to complete snow removal on all sidewalks located on state highway overpasses, and on all pedestrian overhead walkways under the control of the state within (24) hours after the end of a snowstorm.)


Senate:

Senate Housing and Municipal Government Committee to hear bill on sidewalk snow removal

STATE HOUSE – The Senate Housing and Municipal Government Committee will meet Wednesday to hear proposed legislation addressing the removal of snow from sidewalks on highway overpasses.

The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, at the rise of the Senate (about 4:30 p.m.) in Room 310 on the third floor of the State House.

The bill (2015-S 0195 ), sponsored by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), would require the Department of Transportation to complete snow removal on all sidewalks located on state highway overpasses, and on all pedestrian overhead walkways under the control of the state within 24 hours after the end of a snowstorm.


The public is welcome to attend and testify at these meetings, you can also contact your Represenative or Senator directly to express support.

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PBN: Why is it so hard to build in Providence?

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Cranes constructing the Waterplace Towers in 2006.

Development is not predictable, to the point of being difficult. Companies that have built projects in the city, or who want to, describe a market beset by financial obstacles, administrative hurdles and, as a result, a yearslong paucity of new construction – even as cranes have seemingly dominated the skyline in Boston.

Despite the poor general economy and loss of jobs, however, Providence has construction costs that remain as high as in Boston, according to development professionals. But the rents that can be collected from buildings in Providence, whether from business tenants or apartment residents, don’t approach those of Boston.

And the property taxes are higher here – particularly for residential buildings. In Boston, an apartment building falls under the residential tax rate, currently $12.11 for each $1,000 of assessed value. In Providence, the same building pays the commercial rate of $36.75.

All of this amounts to what developers call a “feasibility gap” for Providence, the void between rents and costs of construction.

What do you think needs to be done (if anything) to jump start development in Providence?

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The Valley Breeze: Officials: Luxury apartment project could be game-changer

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City officials say a plan to bring 200 luxury apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial space to vacant land at 45 Division St. is the big score the downtown has been waiting for.

[…]

Colin Kane, partner with the Peregrine Group, told GoLocalProv last week that his company was planning an “exciting” project of 200 apartments and extensive commercial space for this area on the riverfront. Kane did not respond to calls for comment.

Zelazo said city officials love the idea of luxury apartments with desirable waterfront views and “beautiful” look at the Pawtucket River Bridge.

Can we all just stop using the term “game-changer” right now thank you?

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Capital Center Commission Design Review Committee Meeting – March 17, 2015

Francis Street Presentation.pdf

featured-capital-center Design Review Committee of the Capital Center Commission Meeting
Tuesday, March 17, 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 November 18, 2014, December 2, 2014 and January 20, 2015
  3. Parcel 15: Francis Street Parcels
    Presentation of revised plans for a temporary parking lot on the site.
  4. Adjournment

Note the ridiculous 8am start time for this meeting, which is actually before this building is officially open.

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Providence Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – March 18, 2015

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
March 18, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Agenda

  1. Roll call
  2. Vote to approve meeting minutes from February 18 Commission meeting
  3. Discussion of and vote to adopt 2015 meeting schedule
  4. Presentation by Robert Azar, Deputy Director of Planning and Development, regarding Fountain Street improvements
  5. Discussion of request to DPW for list of upcoming road repair and striping projects
  6. Discussion of agenda for Bicycle Friendly Community visit by League of American Bicyclists planned for April 16
  7. Discussion of the City’s participation in the USDOT Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets and next steps to be taken by the Commission in order fulfill their role as Mayor Elorza’s “local action team”
  8. Discussion of ideas for improving pedestrian and bicycle conditions generated from February 18 Commission meeting
  9. Adjournment

The location for this meeting is handicap accessible and translation or hearing impaired services are available upon request. Please contact Martina Haggerty at 401-680-8400 at least 48 hours in advance to request such services.

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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News & Notes

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Chattanooga, Tennessee. Photo (cc) Dave Lawrence.

CityLab: Why Housing Is Key to Chattanooga’s Tech-Hub Ambitions

Chattanooga is aiming to build on the reputation it’s earned from its world-class broadband service. The goal is to make the city a sustainable innovation hub, showing that it’s a well-rounded city rather than a one-trick pony. Evidence of this forward-thinking strategy can be seen in an ambitious expansion of housing downtown—known locally as the City Center—which is aimed at attracting young professionals that value walkable urban cores.

The latest downtown housing effort began in 2013, three years after the city’s gigabit Internet was first introduced. The community was of course enthused by the changes they were seeing in the city. But to local policymakers, the level of housing density in downtown Chattanooga was far from ideal. Over 50,000 people showed up to work there each day, but a dearth of adequate housing prevented many of them from moving there. Over the course of several months, more than 70 local stakeholders came together to identify 22 downtown buildings that needed to be remodeled (some razed) to make room for new housing.


The Boston Globe: A new age for an old town

There have been three great ages of development in modern Boston. The first began after the Back Bay was filled in the late 19th century, a radical change that triggered a historic construction boom. The second came in the 1960s and ’70s, when a “high spine” of office towers — stretching from the financial district to the Pru — began to rise over an old town.

The third is now.

Its businesses and population on the rise, Boston is in the midst of a building spree whose enormity, pace, and geographic sweep are redefining the skyline faster than any period since the early Industrial Age.


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Pedestrians struck in Providence and Pawtucket over the weekend

WJAR reports that two people were struck by a driver who stopped on the Point Street Bridge on Saturday afternoon:

In Providence, police tell NBC 10 two pedestrians were struck on Saturday shortly after 5:00 p.m. on the Point Street Bridge with their backs facing traffic. The operator of the vehicle stopped and told police that he was unable to see the two walking in the road because of heavy sun glare.

The pair were transported to Rhode Island Hospital with minor injuries and the driver is not facing any charges. Police noted that the sidewalks were passable and are not sure why the two were walking in the road.

I have not been on the Point Street Bridge lately; does anyone know if it is true that the sidewalks there are “passable?”

Update: A reader challenges the Police Department’s claim that the Point Street Bridge sidewalks are passable, more photos.

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ProJo reports that a man was struck by a hit and run driver on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket early Saturday morning:

The victim, who is being identified only as a 35-year-old Pawtucket man, was walking south near 1114 Newport Avenue sometime between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. when he was hit by a vehicle also travelling south, according to an email from Pawtucket Police Detective Maj. Arthur Martins.

WJAR says there was another hit and run on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket later Saturday afternoon.

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Providence Planning Department seeks input on community development priorities

From the City of Providence Department of Planning and Development:


You Are Invited to Discuss Your Priorities For Our Communities and Neighborhoods

square-p-01The City of Providence, Department of Planning and Development invites you to a series of conversations about your priorities for housing and community development needs throughout the city.

The Community Development Division will be gathering the input from these meetings and using it to shape future spending and project priorities and to update the City’s Consolidated Plan – which guides the city’s spending on housing and community development.

Some of the topics covered will be: affordable housing; homelessness; senior services; parks and recreation; services for families, adults, and children; accessibility and mobility; persons with HIV/AIDS; lead paint and other unhealthy or unsafe housing issues; economic development; and public safety.

Plan to participate and make your voice hear!

Tues. March 3 – 6:30pm Webster Avenue School 191 Webster Avenue
Wed. March 4 – 6:30pm Fox Point Boys & Girls Club, 90 Ives Street
Tues. March 10 – 6:30pm West Broadway Neighborhood Association, 1560 Westminster Street
Wed. March 18 – 6:30pm SWAP, 500 Broad Street
Tues. March 24 – 6:30pm Washington Park Community Center, 42 Jillson Street
Mon. April 6 – 6:30pm DaVinci Center, 470 Charles Street
Thurs. April 9 – 6:30pm Dr. Martin Luther King School, 35 Camp Street

To RSVP, please contact Donna Miele at dmiele@providenceri.com.

Please complete our Community Needs Survey: http://tinyurl.com/ProvidenceCDBGSurvey

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ProJo: Raimondo looking at tolls to finance roadwork

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Open-road toll installation in Illinois. Photo (cc) Tony Webster.

After more than a year of wrangling over the much-criticized Sakonnet River Bridge toll, Rhode Island lawmakers announced last June that they had created a long-term solution for financing Rhode Island’s roads and bridges that would avert the need for the toll.

Raimondo put the potential for tolls back on the bargaining table in a weekend Associated Press story about the poor condition of many of Rhode Island’s roads and bridges — and the uncertainty about future federal highway funding.

“We need to take a comprehensive look at solutions, everything from public-private partnerships to tolling,” Raimondo said.

See also: Rhode Island’s Future: Raimondo toll plan deserves progressive support
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WPRI: Sources: New PawSox owners want to move to Providence

mccoy-flickr

McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket. Photo (cc) Drew Bennett.

The new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox want to move the team to a privately-financed stadium in Providence, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

The stadium would be paid for by the new owners, but they would require the state to give them land at no cost, according to sources. The owners are eying the vacant former I-195 land downtown, which the state borrowed $38.4 million to buy back in 2013. The money, plus interest, is supposed to be repaid with the proceeds from selling the land.

On Twitter there was speculation of them wanting to use the West Side 195 park, I would say absolutely not to that, we were promised parks, not ballparks.

“We were briefed last night,” [Pawtucket Mayor Don] Grebien said Monday. “It knocked the wind out of us.” The new owners told Grebien they want the team to play in an “urban district with transportation,” he said.

They said ‘urban’ and ‘transportation,’ :swoon: But wait, this needs lots of vetting, don’t try to trick me!

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ProJo: R.I. DOT chief Michael Lewis resigns; Raimondo appoints former Cranston DPW director Alviti to take his place

micheal-lewis-square1Rhode Island’s Department of Transportation Director Michael Lewis has resigned, and Governor Raimondo has chosen a former Cranston public works director with ties to the Laborers International Union of North America to take his place.

Late Tuesday afternon, Raimondo announced her choice of Peter Alviti as Rhode Island’s new DOT director. If he wins Senate confirmation, he will replace Lewis in the top spot in the state road and bridge building agency.

Raimondo chose Peter Garino as his top deputy. Garino has been “chief, capital programming and administration” for New Jersey Transit.

I don’t know anything about Alviti, but I was hoping the Governor would look for someone forward thinking from out-of-state. Color me unimpressed by having a former DPW director from Cranston running the state transportation agency.

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The economic argument for clearing snow from sidewalks

There’s been a lot of lip-service to forcing people to clear sidewalks through fines, but not too much seems to be coming of it. I’ve argued a lot about the safety issues involved in not clearing the sidewalks, especially for young children forced to walk in the road on the way to school; but few results have been seen.

So, what about the economic impact? Should a city and state that claims to want to attract millennials who seek walkable transit-oriented small cities look like this?

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News & Notes

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President Obama announced his budget on Monday including a $478-billion six-year plan for transportation spending.

Streetsblog USA: Obama’s New Transportation Budget: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Today President Obama unveiled his opening bid in this process. The $478-billion, six-year plan from the White House includes many of the proposals the administration unveiled last year. Congress didn’t advance those ideas then, and with the GOP now controlling both houses, chances remain slim for reforming highway-centric federal transportation policy.

But the White House budget document remains the best summary of the Obama team’s transportation policy agenda. The ideas are intriguing even if they’re politically improbable.

Also on Streetsblog, they picked up our story about the death of Karen McHugh.

Scientific American: U.S. Cities Lag in Race against Rising Seas

In just a few decades, most U.S. coastal regions are likely to experience at least 30 days of nuisance flooding every year.

Washington, D.C.; Annapolis, Md.; and Wilmington, N.C., are already in trouble. By 2020, seven more cities, including Baltimore and Atlantic City, N.J., can add themselves to the list. And within the next 35 years, most cities along all coasts will be dealing with routine flooding.

Some cities, such as New York, are bolstering their shorelines in response to extreme events, such as Superstorm Sandy. But with more than half the U.S. population living within 50 miles of the coast, many areas are just at the beginning stages of preparing to deal with rising sea levels and the increased flooding they bring.

Where will we build the next hurricane barrier?


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