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Archive | Colleges/Universities

Scott Douglass: Why you should care about Brown’s surface parking lot

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Thayer Street in 1990. (cc) Will Hart

Scott Douglass is a South Coast Massachusetts native living and working in Providence. Currently collaborating with Boston based urban design and architecture company Principle Group LLC. Scott is an Alumnus of both the Providence Country Day School and the University of Miami School of Architecture.

It has become fashionable to bemoan the pacification of Thayer street in recent years. The Nostalgia that a gritty district known for variety stores and record shops engenders is impressive, although it speaks largely to the quality of the Urban fabric which allowed it to thrive. There are no Thayer streets popping up in shopping malls. in fact, Thayer street has remained a pleasant destination even as the grit and hipness has faded. Even in its more recent role as the food court for RISD and Brown, it has retained its fine grained collection of prewar shops and houses which have incubated the charm which made it a destination in the first place.

Recognizing that the greatest asset the Thayer Street area possesses is its character, it lays in the hands of the stewards of the community to protect and enhance this character over time.

This is not to say that Thayer Street must be as a fly in amber, in fact, many large developments fostered by Brown over the last 20 years have done an adequate job at tiptoeing around their context. In fact some buildings, like the Nelson Fitness Center, have improved upon their context and healed a wound on the edge of one of the largest unstructured parks in the East Side, Pembroke Field.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – January 19, 2016

Providence City Plan Commission Notice of Regular Meeting
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2016, 4:45 PM
Joseph Doorley Municipal Building, 1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

cpc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from December15 regular meeting and December 1 special meeting – for action
  • Election of Officers – for action
  • Director’s Report

Institutional Master Plan

1. Brown University Institutional Master Plan Amendment – Presentation of amendment to Brown University’s Institutional Master Plan. The amendment includes creation of new parking space and improvements to certain athletic facilities. A special use permit will be required for the proposed parking – for action (College Hill)

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ProJo: Brown plans to knock down 7 College Hill buildings for new parking lot

Brown University intends to flatten half of a city block near Thayer Street in the College Hill neighborhood to create a commercial parking lot.

In an amendment to the school’s master plan filed with the Providence Planning Department, Brown officials wrote they want to raze seven multifamily houses that the school owns between Cushing Street, Meeting Street and Brook Street. The amendment document calls the two-unit buildings “unsightly.”


I’m just going to leave this collection of Google Streetview images Frank Mullin posted on Facebook right here.

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PBN: JWU purchases former Club Karma for $1.6M

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Image from Google Streetview

Johnson & Wales University has purchased the former Club Karma at 101 Richmond St. for $1.6 million.

The actual use of the building is not yet clear but will be either to accommodate JWU’s expanding academic programming or for student life services, the university said.

The developers of proposed student housing on the 195 Land Parcel 28 had proposed tearing down this building. Those developers have backed out of the deal to purchase that property however. Hopefully, Johnson & Wales will keep the building standing and find a good ground-floor use for it.

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James Kennedy: Providence City Council pushes for exclusionary zoning limiting student housing

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Proposed rezoning would limit the number of students allowed in houses such as these on Eaton Street across from Providence College.

Concerned urbanists will want to check out my post on RI Future’s about a proposed exclusionary zoning provision banning cohabitation of more than three students in a household in zones 1 and 1A. The proposal threatens to increase housing costs on low income people, and is a threat to even modest density and thus transit frequencies.

The first vote, last Thursday, was 10-3. Opponents of exclusionary zoning need to knock off just one of those votes next Thursday to enable a mayoral veto (zoning provisions have to pass twice through Council). Check the list to see if your councilperson was one of the ten. There are some surprising names on there, including councilpeople representing working class and student-heavy constituencies, and councilpeople who have typically had better judgment on urbanist issues.

Visit RI Future to read James Kennedy’s post from last week on this issue.
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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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City Plan Commission Meeting – April 28, 2015

City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

cpc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from February 24, 2015 meeting – for action
  • Approval of minutes from March 17, 2015 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Major Land Development Project – Public Hearing

1. Case No. 14-038MA – 181 Corliss Street (Preliminary Plan Approval) – The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval to construct a four story, 124 room extended stay hotel on the former site of an abandoned Postal Service building. The lot measures approximately 2.01 acres. The applicant is seeking a waiver from the requirement that all state permits be acquired by the preliminary plan stage. Public comment will be taken. Continued from the February 24 meeting – for action (AP 74 Lot 376, Mt. Hope)

City Council Referral

2. Referral 3389—Amendment to Port Redevelopment Plan – The amendment proposes to change the boundaries of the redevelopment area by removing two properties. The amendment will be reviewed for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan – for action (Lower South Providence)

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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – January 12, 2015

Downtown Design Review Committee
Monday, January 12, 2015 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development, 1st Floor Conference Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

drc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes of December 12, 2014
  • Annual Election of Vice Chair

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 14.25: 342 Eddy Street (Public Hearing) – The subject of the hearing will be an application by CV SSL Garage, LLC requesting waivers from D-1 Design Regulations for non-conforming new construction. The applicant is proposing to construct a new parking garage at 342 Eddy Street, Providence, RI. The applicant is seeking waivers from the requirements for transparency and multiple entrances at the ground floor level on the Eddy Street elevation, and for the recess line requirement for buildings over 6 stories.

This is the parking garage being built as part of the South Street Landing project.

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Rendering of student housing building along Point Street

2. DRC Application No. 14.26: 11-15 Point Street (Public Hearing) – The subject of the hearing will be an application by CV SSL River House, LLC requesting a waiver from D-1 Design Regulations for non-conforming new construction. The applicant is proposing to construct a new mixed-use residential development at 11-15 Point Street, Providence, RI. The applicant is seeking a waiver from the recess line requirement for buildings over 6 stories.

This is the residential new construction at the South Street Landing project.

3. DRC Application No. 14.27: 10 Dorrance Street (Howard Building) – Proposal to install new signage for VP Fitness on the exterior of the building.

Adjournment

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PBN: Roger Williams University more than doubling downtown presence

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One Empire Plaza. Image from Google Streetview

Bristol-based Roger Williams University is planning to renovate and lease One Empire Plaza, more than doubling its presence downtown for adult learners when it opens in May of 2016.

The new location will provide expanded space for RWU’s School of Law, School of Continuing Studies and growing array of outreach and engagement programs, including the Latino Policy Institute, HousingWorks RI and the Community Partnerships Center.


It was remarkable how much energy was added to Empire Street for the short time 38 Studios was there, and how it evaporated when they left. It will be nice to have that vitality back.

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Brown Daily Herald: Federal, state officials break ground on Dynamo project

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Rendering of student housing building along Point Street

Private sector leaders gathered with federal, state and municipal officials in a ceremony Monday to kick off renovations to the Jewelry District’s South Street Power Station, popularly known as the Dynamo House.

The revamp — expected to be complete by the fall of 2016 — will result in a nursing education center shared by Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island, as well as graduate housing and administrative offices for the University.

Officials joked that this would be “the last groundbreaking at this particular site,” said Dick Galvin ’79, president and founder of Commonwealth Ventures Properties, poking fun at failed past projects that attempted to renovate the former power station, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Prior to the actual groundbreaking, officials ranging from Galvin to Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’17 P’14 P’17 voiced their excitement about the project to a crowd of more than 200.

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Brown Daily Herald: Engineering building plan calls for demolition of historic houses

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333 Brook Street, one of the buildings slated for demolition, see a slideshow of images on the Brown Daily Herald website. Image from Google Street View.

In order to make space for the University’s new engineering building — construction of which is set to begin in December 2015­, four houses included in the city’s historic district have been slated for demolition.

The buildings, located at 37 and 29 Manning Street and 341 and 333 Brook Street, were constructed in the early 1900s and were later acquired by the University and converted into business and academic spaces, said Mike McCormick, assistant vice president of planning, design and construction. McCormick and a group of University administrators collaborated with the Public Archaeology Lab to learn about these buildings’ histories in preparation for the planning and design of the new engineering building.

But the Providence Preservation Society “opposes the demolition of the four houses” due to their “historical” and “architectural value,” said Brent Runyon, executive director of PPS. The buildings also contribute to “the development of College Hill as a neighborhood,” he added.

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A Better World by Design Conference – September 19-21, 2014

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Students from Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design host seventh annual A Better World by Design Conference

Each fall, A Better World by Design (ABWxD) brings a global community of students, academics, and professionals to Providence, Rhode Island in order to reach across disciplines and unite under a common goal: building a better world. Organized by students from Brown and RISD, ABWxD brings together cutting edge alternative content and introduces the next generation of design pioneers. ABWxD rethinks what a conference can actually do.

What: A Better World by Design Conference
Who: Ellen Jorgensen, Co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace • Sarah Williams, Director of Civic Data Design Lab • Melissa Mongiat, Founder of Daily Tous Les Jours • Brian House, media artist • Michael Ben-Eli, Founder of the Sustainability Laboratory • and many more
When: Friday September 19 to Sunday September 21
Where: Campuses of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
Why: 2014 attendees can expect the largest lineup yet, drawing from fields such as mapping, interactive art, design policy, and DIY biology. The theme this year is wayfinding, describing a collective design process used to solve social challenges.

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PBN: JWU reveals $40M academic building plan for Jewelry District

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Johnson & Wales University Monday unveiled plans for a new $40 million academic building on former Interstate 195 land in Providence’s Jewelry District.

The building will sit at the corner of Friendship and Chestnut Streets and serve the university’s School of Engineering and Design and College of Arts and Sciences, Johnson & Wales said in a news release.


Very exciting! This will also free up their building at the corner of Westminster and Mathewson for other uses.

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UPDATED: WPRI: RI moves ahead on $206M nursing school project

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The R.I. Board of Education on Monday unanimously signed off on a proposed 15-year lease for the state’s two nursing schools to move into a new joint facility that would be built inside the decaying former South Street Power Station in partnership with Brown University.

The $206-million project, unveiled last year by developer Dick Galvin of CV Properties LLC, would redevelop the former power plant along the Providence River and adjoining property into academic space for the state; office space for Brown; student apartments; and a parking garage.

The parking garage and student housing would be in new buildings built on adjacent parking lots.

May 15, 2014: Press release from the Mayor’s Office

Taveras Administration Proposes South Street Landing Agreements Requiring Tax-Exempt Institutions to Pay Taxes

Development of former power station viewed as significant opportunity to expand city’s tax base, create jobs, spur economic growth in Knowledge District.

The tax-exempt tenants of the proposed South Street Landing development project will pay taxes to the City of Providence under agreements proposed by the administration of Mayor Angel Taveras.

“South Street Landing is a once-in-a-generation economic development opportunity for our Capital City,” said Mayor Taveras. “The project promises to expand Providence’s tax base and increase tax revenues, create construction jobs and permanent jobs, help jumpstart development in the Knowledge District, improve public access and recreation along our waterfront and assure the preservation of an iconic building in our city.”

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Brown Daily Herald: U., city officials announce Thayer St. changes

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Thayer Street image from Google Street View

City and University officials announced several planned changes to the Thayer Street commercial district — including new green space, a trash compactor, re-paving and re-lining, signage and changes to curbs — at a press conference Tuesday morning.

Providence and the District Management Authority plan to invest $10,000 to build a parklet — parking spaces converted into a public seating area — in front of the Brown Bookstore. The University will widen sidewalks in front of City Sports and Blue State Coffee, decorate the exterior with trees and outdoor furniture and donate space on Fones Alley for a trash compactor.

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PBN: Legal tangle hinders power station redevelopment

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Ownership of the vacant power plant is hampered by multiple stakeholders, mortgages, deed restrictions and up to 20 mechanics liens tied to one of the most ambitious and ill-fated public-private partnerships in the state’s history.

And then there are the $26 million in state historic tax credits attached to Dynamo House that the partnership between Commonwealth Ventures LLC and Brown University intend to use to help finance construction. The current owners of the power station control the tax credits.

With this tangled legal web in mind, the city’s Davol Square Plan lays out a strong case for seizing the power station using the city’s powers of eminent domain if clearing the title through negotiation fails.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – December 17, 2013

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, December 17, 2013 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from the November 19th meeting – for action
  • Approval of the CPC meeting schedule for the 2014 calendar year – for action
  • Director’s Report

Redevelopment Plan

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Image from Bing Maps

1. City Council Referral: An ordinance to adopt the Davol Square Redevelopment Plan This ordinance would adopt a redevelopment plan that would designate a redevelopment project area consisting of approximately 10.5 acres of industrial and commercial property located along the Providence River in the Downtown neighborhood. The ordinance will be reviewed for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan – for action (Downtown, AP 21 Lots 429, 430, 438, 439, 440)

Re:Zoning Providence

2. Update on Re: Zoning Providence Presentation detailing progress on the zoning ordinance revision process and proposed zoning changes developed by the project consultants – for discussion

Adjournment


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Brown presentation on the South Street Power Station project at JDA meeting – July 9, 2013

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Brown University will present information on the proposed redevelopment of the South Street Power Station at the Jewelry District Association Meeting on Tuesday, July 9th.

The meeting is open to the public, you need to be buzzed into the building for entry.

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 • 4:00pm- 5:30pm
Brown Continuing Education Building
200 Dyer Street, Classroom 131/133

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