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Better than nothing is not good enough

cvs-washington

New CVS in Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood will feature two-levels of apartments and underground parking. – Rendering by Schemata Workshop

I’ve been hearing the same refrain lately when it comes to less than stellar development proposals in Providence, ‘it may not be great, but it is better than what is there now.’ The McDonald’s and Family Value in Olneyville is cited as better than the vacant lot that is there now. The LA Fitness on North Main is seen as better than the vacant building that is there now. And on it goes, there’s a defeatest attitude around here about having nice things.

As CVS starts to expand into Washington State, one Seattle neighborhood saw the company’s proposal and asked if they could build something better. Unlike CVS’s recent store back here at home in Edgewood, the company building the new store, The Velmeir Cos., said, ‘sure, let’s figure it out.’

The original proposal was for a one-story CVS at what the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce describes as a high profile corner is Seattle’s Uptown neighborhood.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – July 29, 2014

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from June 17th meeting – for action
  • Approval of minutes from July 15th – for action
  • Director’s Report

City Council Referral

1. Referral No. 3379 – Petition to abandon a portion of Amherst Street The petitioner is requesting to abandon a portion of the width of Amherst Street between 125 Amherst Street (AP 62 Lot 274) and 120 Amherst Street (AP 62 Lot 284) – for action (Olneyville)

2. Referral 3380 – Amendment of the Charles Street Renewal Project Plan Review of the amendment for conformance with the Comprehensive Plan. The amendment proposes expansion of the boundaries of the project area and targets certain blighted properties for acquisition – for action (Charles)

Minor Subdivision

3. Case No. 14-023 MI – 52 Sussex Street The applicant is requesting to subdivide a lot at 52 Sussex Street measuring approximately 11,276 SF into two lots measuring 5,433 SF and 5,821 SF – for action (AP 76 Lot 358, Wanskuck)

Public Heariing – Major Land Development Project

mcdonalds-rendering

4. Case No. 13-039MA – 48-54 Plainfield Street and 4-14 Atwood Street (Preliminary Plan Approval) The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval to construct a free standing fast food restaurant with a drive through and a free standing retail department store on a vacant commercial lot. The applicant received relief from the Zoning Board of Review for front yard setbacks and a special use permit for a drive through use. A total of 56 parking spaces are proposed for the development, which measures approximately 64,295 SF. Public comment will be taken – for action (AP 105 Lots 46, 47, 66, 98, 99, 100, Olneyville)

Re: Zoning Providence

5. Update on Re: Zoning Providence A review of the organization and content of the draft zoning ordinance – for discussion

Adjournment


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→ WJAR: New apartments coming soon behind Garden City

garden-city

“It’s our belief that there is a movement out away from the big suburban house. People want to live in the heart of something where they can be a part of the community and where they have all the amenities and access to all the great things that are happening at Garden City,” said Jordan Durham of D+P Real Estate.

First, I think it is sad that Garden City can be described as having a ‘behind’. Great urban spaces shouldn’t have a front or back, they should be seemless. It is telling I suppose that Providence Place is also often descibed as having a ‘behind’ or ‘back’.

Second, as I said on Twitter the other day, I might pay a lot of money to ensure that I never had to go to Garden City ever again (I really cannot stand it there), of course I’m sure there are more than a few people who would say the same about Providence, so to each his own I suppose.

All that said, it is encouraging to see people putting real money into apartment living in the suburban sections of our urban core. This won’t be car-free urbanist living to be sure, the article describes the development as featuring underground parking with elevator access, but it will give people the option of dipping their toes into the environment of living closely with neighbors, the option to at least consider walking to Garden City to buy groceries or have dinner… a simulacrum of urban living. It is a start.

For more information on the development visit liveatgardencity.com.

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→ GoLocal Providence: 195 Bidder Carpionato Failed to Redevelop Providence Fruit Market

fruit-produce-warehouse

Former Fruit and Produce Warehouse (left) in March 2005 prior to demolition.

The Carpionato Group, who recently submitted a proposal to the 195 Commission to develop the former highway land, has to date not developed a previous acquisition of prime Providence real estate — the former historic Fruit and Produce Warehouse.

Following its purchase of the warehouse from the state — and controversial demolition of the historic property in 2008 — Carpionato, the Johnston-based commercial real estate firm, had presented plans to turn the former fruit market into a mixed used office, retail and hotel development, which have not materialized. The city granted Carpionato preliminary approval for a surface parking lot at the location in 2013.

See also:
Greater City Providence: ProJo outlines developer’s vision for east side 195 parcels
Greater City Providence: Fruit and Produce safety hazard
Greater City Providence: Yes, you can haz demo permit
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→ ProJo: Secretive policies of Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission seen as ‘excessive’

The Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission’s policy not to identify developers who propose buying public land is more secretive than policies of other state agencies.

Without that information, Rhode Islanders will not be able to evaluate decisions by the commission to sell 17 parcels of land freed up for development by the relocation of Route 195.

Other state agencies, including the State Properties Committee and the Department of Environmental Management, withhold bidding details while seeking buyers for state land, to maintain leverage in negotiations. But none reached by The Providence Journal has set policies to keep secret the names of losing bidders once a deal is struck to sell land.

I can see where the Commission is coming from, but this Commission has to remain cognizant of the scrutiny they are under and leaning to the side transparency is in everyone’s best interest I think.

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→ PBN: ‘Rapid bus’ lines part of new development districts

Providence is encouraging transit-oriented development in two neighborhoods most residents may not associate with transportation or potential growth.

The Trinity Square neighborhood in Upper South Providence and the northern section of North Main Street at the Pawtucket line are singled out for the city’s first two transit-oriented development districts in its ongoing zoning rewrite.

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City Plan Commission Meeting – February 25, 2014

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from the January 21st meeting – for action
  • Approval of minutes from the January 28th meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Re: Zoning Providence

1. 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

Minor Land Development Project

2. Case No. 12-027MI – 66 Huber Avenue The project consists of a 40-unit apartment building. This matter was remanded from the Zoning Board of Review, sitting as an appeals board, for more specific findings of fact relating to conformance with the zoning ordinance – for action (AP 80 Lot 894, Manton)

City Council Referral

3. Referral 3373 – Petition to rezone 1710-1718 Westminster Street The applicant is requesting a rezoning of 1710-1718 Westminster Street (AP 35 Lots 219 and 220) from R-3 to M-1 – for action (AP 35 Lots 219 and 220, West End)

Adjournment


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The suburbanization of Olneyville

mcdonalds-rendering

Rendering of proposed McDonald’s and Family Dollar store on Plainfield Street in Olneyville.

The City Plan Commission meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to the impending storm. It is scheduled to take place now on January 28th.

After learning of plans for a drive-thru McDonald’s proposed on Plainfield Street in Olneyville, I requested plans for the proposal from the Planning Department.

The developer is seeking master plan approval from the City Plan Commission for the construction of a McDonald’s and Family Dollar store in a separate building on a site which was cleared of existing structures last year.

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→ PBN: Legal tangle hinders power station redevelopment

dynamo

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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CPC to review proposed drive-thru in Olneyville at January 21 28, 2014 meeting

olneyville

This building in Olneyville was razed last year. Image from Google Streetview

The City Plan Commission meeting scheduled for today has been canceled due to the impending storm. It is rescheduled for January 28th.

The block of buildings on Plainfield between Dike and Atwood Streets was razed last January. An anonymous commenter from that post wins the prize as my understanding is a McDonald’s with a drive-thru along with a dollar store is now planned for this location.

As Olneyville attempts to reviatalize itself a fast food restaurant, seperated from the street by parking, with a drive-thru is exactly what the neighborhood does not need. This parcel interrupts what is almost a complete streetwall along the south side of Plainfield Street and through the Square from the Route 6 overpass to the unfortunately placed car wash at the Westminster and Broadway intersection.

Olneyville has the lowest rate of vehicle ownership in the City, who is this drive-thru being built for? McDonald’s, if they want to be in Olneyville, should consider maybe building a walk-up window rather than a drive-thru one.

The developer will be seeking relief for building setback and a special use permit for a drive-thru from the CPC at their meeting on January 21st. See the full CPC agenda below.

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