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Presumed Parking Lot-ification

House Demolished at Cumberland and Wardlaw Streets

For the past week or so, there has been a string of caution tape between two cones in front of a house on Cumberland St. Next door: a vacant lot, and next to that, a house that has had the same tape and some chain link propped against it for about a year.

A few days ago, I noticed the property behind the cones had its electrical meter and wires disconnected.

Last night, while walking my dog, I happened to catch a Providence College security guard tidying up the caution tape. I asked if he had any news what’s happening with this property. He told me they were being torn down for parking.

“That’s unfortunate,” I said.

He shrugged.

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25

City Council moves to politicize proposed roads bond

dean-street-2009

Dean Street re-construction in 2009. The City of Providence proposes a $40b bond to finance repairs to 62 miles of roads and sidewalks in the City.

As reported by Ian Donnis on RINPR, the City Council is meeting tonight to put a provision in the proposed roads bond bill that would give them control over what streets and sidewalks get repaired in their Wards:

RINPR quotes Councilman Terry Hassett:

That was one of the concerns among the council members — making sure that anything that is distributed through a bond for infrastructure that the council member has a direct and specific role in terms of what streets would get done, what sidewalks, and where the emphasis should be. That was the concern.

Dan McGowan of GoLocalProv Tweets the move could result in a Mayoral veto:


Why? Because there has already been a systematic review of roadways in the city that need attention and 62 miles of roadways have been identified as the ones which will be worked on should this bond pass (I hope to see that list before I’m asked to vote on the bond). The Council argues that they know best what their Wards need. What they know best is which streets getting paved get them the most votes towards reelection.

There’s also the simple matter that the bond money should not be equally dispersed among the 15 Councilors. There are Wards that are in more need than others based on trucking, bus routes, sheer road miles, and other factors that mean they should get more or less money than other Wards.

The City has created a formula to rate roads and determine which need working on, there is no reason the Councilors need any more say over that. If they don’t agree with the formula, then address that, don’t say you get to pick and choose what needs doing under some, “trust me, I know what’s best for my Ward,” song and dance.

See also: RINPR: Providence City Hall slams council faction’s plan for allocating road repair money

5

Rumor: tree removal?

Tree at 28 Foch Avenue

July 6, 2011 – 2pm: We are pulling this story for 24 hours.

Waiting on a response from the city.

In 2004, the City passed a regulation in its Zoning Ordinance (Sec. 425.1, “Removal of Significant Trees”) that protects trees that are 32 inches in diameter or greater (measured 4.5 feet above the ground), regardless of location. No “Significant Tree” shall be removed without prior permission of the City Forester. Any person wishing to remove a Significant Tree shall file a request to do so with the City Forester. The request must meet certain criteria in order to receive approval, most notably that the tree poses a danger to human safety, health, and welfare. Call the City Forester at 785-9450 for more information

ProVide?

Apparently this was all anyone was talking about over the weekend and I completely missed it. Sometime this weekend posters were placed on the doors of the shuttered Arcade claiming that a new marketplace was “Coming Soon.”

Channel 10 ran with the story that a market is opening in the Arcade, ProJo however picked up the phone and called the owners of the Arcade.

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26

Rumor: RISD to demolish Farnum Hall


Image from Google StreetView

This post is marked as a rumor because I have not been able to independently verify it yet, but it is not a surprising development.

ArtInRuins posted the info on their Facebook page the other day.

Farnum Hall is located on Congdon Street not too far from Prospect Park.

RISD Facilities closed the building a couple years ago due to its condition. My understanding is, aside from the fact that it was used as a dorm and then art studios which was pretty hard on the interior, the building is actually suffering foundation issues. Word around campus was that it is slowly sliding down the hill.


Image from Google StreetView

It is a very handsome yellow brick courtyard style buidling, a type that is actually rather rare in Providence, and undoubtedly worthy of saving. I do fear however that the foundation issues may be insurmountable.

RISD was hit hard by the recession and has a backlog of maintenance projects for existing buildings, so it seems unlikely that they would build anything on this site for quite some time. The major issue if (likely when) this building comes down will be the pressure from faculty and staff on the RISD campus for more on-campus parking. The building already has parking on two sides and the presure to turn the entire cleared lot over to parking will be overwhelming.

RISD is also land poor, almost all of its existing property has buildings or parking on it. The students lack on-campus spaces for outdoor recreation and that has been a perennial issue brought up by student government. So here’s hoping the students can get the basketball courts and other outside amenities they’ve been seeking and that those needs trumps the parking needs.

Disclosure, I used to work at RISD

5

Rumor: “The Hub” to the Arcade?

Arcade
Photo by Jef Nickerson

We don’t often deal in rumors around here, but this one is too good to let pass. A member of UrbanPlanet UrbanPlanet posted that they had heard that representatives from The Hub were coming to Providence to check out the Arcade as a possible location.

The Bay Area Hub describes itself as:

The Hub is a coworking space, event series, and professional toolset for changemakers!

During the day, The Hub is a dynamic, collision-rich workspace designed by its Members and the wisdom gleaned from Hub communities throughout the world. Social innovators in the Bay Area are leaving their sterile offices, noisy cafes, and isolated living rooms to work alongside diverse peers in a professionally hosted environment. They choose The Hub because it’s where they find the access, tools, community, and inspiration they need to transform their ideas into action.

At night, The Hub transforms into an event platform for member driven
collaborations, lectures, screenings, innovation labs, and some of the most compelling and imaginative minds from around the world.

I have contacted The Hub to seek comment on their Providence plans (if any), but have not heard back yet. If/when I do I will update this post.

Remember, this is simply a rumor at this point. Feel free to speculate, anyone with more information feel free to add it. But true or not, what do people think of this as a concept for re-use of the Arcade?

Update: 02/27


Photo submitted by Don Beohner

We’ve confirmed that representatives from The Hub are indeed in Providence this week and indeed looking at the Arcade. Thanks to our commenters for filling in some of the blanks. There are some issues to work out. Chiefly, The Hub does not require the entire space that the Arcade offers (the Arcade has about 20,000 extra square feet beyond the size of the largest existing Hubs). The Arcade owner has said they are seeking a single tenant for the building, The Hub will not be that single tenant, but it remains to be seen if The Hub leasing a portion of the building is enough to get the owners to re-open the ground floor to retail (which would be ideal in my opinion).

As pointed out in the comments by Dan, the EDC has been seeking this type of incubator space for entrepreneurs in Providence. If the EDC gets involved with this project, maybe there is something the EDC can do to help close the deal between what the Arcade’s owners are seeking, and the rent and space that The Hub can afford.

Seeing as The Hub is interested enough in Providence to make a visit; if a deal at the Arcade doesn’t work out, where would people like to see The Hub locate in the city?

35

Taqueriagate

as220

OMG y’all! Did you hear about the dust up between AS220 and Taqueria Pacifica? No? You been under a rock or something?

I first saw one of my friends post about it on Faceplace, then it showed up on Daily Dose and UrbanPlanet. Apparently there is a huge heated thread about it on Lots of Noise. I’m a little late in the game posting about this obviously, I was kind of waiting to see if I would hear more info, but everyone else is running with it, so I want to be cool too!

Someone on UrbanPlanet going by the name of gopher.maps was kind enough to transpose this from Lots of Noise:

Tyler (owner of Taqueria Pacifica):
here it is, the official story of just what is going on with the taqueria. Zander and bert filed eviction papers to evict taqueria pacifica and all it’s employees on the 18th. the rent was due by the 15th, but instead of just picking it up like they usually do — we share an address — they waited for us to slip and nailed us. it’s all up to the courts but the bottom line is they are railroading small business because we don’t go along with their agenda — whatever the heck that is. this was made apparently obvious when zander refused rent yesterday. they just want us gone. too subversive, i guess. those rebellious burritos. whatever. the tp will most likely rear it’s head again, either here or not. but thank you to everyone who has eaten our food and supported us. tenants of theirs should beware. you could be next. — more later. aloha–

Xander (manager of AS220):
Hi all-
Firstly, I’d like you all to know that I respect the discussion that is happening in this forum. I fully recognize that AS220 and the Taqueria are part of all of our shared community, and that this situation affects many people in it. Your desire for more information, as well as your investment in this process, is valid.

Of course, there is another side I could add to Tyler’s assessment of the situation. However, I don’t think its in anyone’s best interest to get into a flame war on LON. We are maintaining a civil conversation outside of the limelight as this situation progresses. Until the next steps are firmed up either through negotiations or through a court agreement, I can only offer the following:

It was mutually agreed that the relationship between AS220 and the Taqueria was not working. This was addressed with good faith by both sides. It became clear that both sides felt they had expressed a desire to renegotiate, reconcile, or end the relationship in the past, but somehow these desires were never totally clear to one another. They violated the terms of their lease, opening up an opportunity for us to bring the situation out of the standstill that it had been in. In terms of refusing their rent yesterday, that was a matter of protocol and was on instructions from our lawyer. We have told them that we are willing to negotiate to make the transition work for them and their employees, who are certainly not being disregarded or thought of lightly through this process, and AS220 has every intention of returning their security deposit.

We have no intention of expanding the bar. There will be some kind of food offering available, however, there are no specific plans for this at this time…We’re working on it though! (I have to admit to laughing aloud at all of the things that Reposludegoblin had read about going into the space on the daily dose – none of them are true)

I totally understand that this action has an effect on many people and on many aspects of this community, and that there will be a variety of responses and complicated feelings about the issue. I appreciate that many of you want to have a better understanding of the situation before making judgments, and appreciate your understanding that the situation is more complicated than a single blog thread can make clear.

*NOTE: I have no reason to believe these two people aren’t who they say they are, but it is the internet, so keep that in mind.*

So there you have it, he said, he she said. Doesn’t get any clearer than that does it?

To be honest for a second, and please don’t hit me, I’ve never really been a Taqueria fan. Not having enough information here to take sides, I’m not going to, but I wouldn’t be too broken up if AS220 brought someone else into that space. At the same time, it sucks for the Taqueria peeps to be out on their ear all of a sudden, especially the employees, who presumably are just along for the ride and are suffering because the people in charge seemingly can’t get along.

If the Taqueria still has their truck, or can get a truck, I wonder if a place could be made for them in the Kennedy Plaza area. The Plaza needs more food vendors, the Taqueria needs a new home… see something happening here..?

RUMOR du jour

This is a rumor. We have not heard anything on this from anyone directly involved, only rumors and speculation on the streets of Providence. This is posted for comment and speculation and should not be taken as a statement of fact.

A rumor has been heard on the streets of Providence that the Capitol Cove Condominiums in Capital Center might become Johnson & Wales dormitories. No one from Greater City Providence has heard anything directly from the City, the University, or the Developer.

Earlier this year, a rumor was floating around the ProJo Newsroom that Johnson & Wales was interested in buying the ProJo Headquarters on Fountain Street for a dorm as well.

So the rumors have been all over the map on J&W. What do you think about these rumors? Discuss.

UPDATE: A representative from Johnson & Wales University states that they have no public announcements concerning student housing.

13

Rumormill: J&W to ProJo?

Ian Donnis on his Not For Nothing blog drops a little rumor in his first of a series of posts on the News Apocalypse.

Btw, a ProJo source called me yesterday, confident in the belief that J+W had bought the Journal Building and its related properties. Lisa Pelosi, speaking for J+W, says it ain’t so.

If I were a betting man, I’d put my money behind Lisa’s comment. Though J&W from all I’ve heard has weathered the economic downturn better than most colleges, and though their near future plans seem to have them refocused on expansion here at home in Providence, the Journal Building’s location seems to not fit in with those plans.

As reported in the Providence Journal in June and discussed on UrbanPlanet Johnson & Wales is looking toward the land soon to be made available by the removal of Route 195 to form a more cohesive Downcity Campus on the border of Downcity and the Jewelry District (Providence Journal Graphic ).

Far from buying up buildings on the far side of Downcity, Johnson & Wales (according to the June ProJo article) will be getting rid of a couple properties on Westminster Street as they expand into the 195 land. Of course things could have changed, though J&W has reportedly weathered the economy well, a change in strategy from new construction toward collecting existing buildings is not out of the question (total speculation here). What if J&W were to change the ProJo Building into a dorm like RISD did with the Old Hospital Trust Building at 15 Westminster Street? Would something like that be a welcome addition to the area, or should we hope for more for the future of the ProJo Building?

* Oh, and I’m looking forward to more of Ian’s News-Apocalypse series.

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