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Tag Archives | 35 Weybosset Street

→ PBN: Paolino purchases three properties downtown for $60M

50-k-plaza

Image from Google Streetview

Paolino Properties has purchased a package of three high-profile properties in Providence’s Financial District for $60 million, the company announced Wednesday.

The acquisitions include the 20-story tower at 100 Westminster St., the five-story building next door at 30 Kennedy Plaza and the Weybosset Street Metropark lot across the street that features the propped-up façade of the former Providence National Bank Building.

The article goes into plans for the buildings and vacant parcel which all sound great, look at me, I’m all surprised over here. One wonders, and one is not just me people are talking, where the former Mayor is getting funds for all this. Wonders about funding instill fears about the viability of the proposed plans. Fingers crossed good things happen, would be very good for Kennedy Plaza as well as Westminster Street.

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Parking cat fight Downcity?

35 Weybosset Street

In reading this month’s Zoning Board of Review agenda , I came across this:

APPELLANT: GP Arcade Garage, LLC
PROPERTY OWNER: 110 Providence Owner, LLC
SUBJECT PROPERTY: Vacant land located at 90 Westminster Street, a/k/a Lot 123 on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 20
ZONING DISTRICTS: D-1 Downtown Central Business District and DD Downcity Overlay District (A Street) The Appellant is appealing the Director’s decision to issue a building permit (No. B2011-3886, dated November 29, 2011) contending that the proposed construction of a surface parking lot is in violation of Sections 502 and 502.2(F)(3) of the Zoning Ordinance

So that would be the owners for the Arcade Garage on Weybosset Street arguing that the owners of the lot at 35 Weybosset Street/110 (90) Westminster Street, should not be allowed to have a surface parking lot at that location because it goes against the Zoning Ordinance.

Here’s the sections cited[1]:

Section 502 – Downcity District
The purpose of the Downcity District is to encourage and direct development in the downtown to ensure that: new development is compatible with the existing historic building fabric and the historic character of downtown; historic structures are preserved, and design alterations are in keeping with historic character; development encourages day and nighttime activities that relate to the pedestrian and promote the arts, entertainment and housing; and that the goals of the Comprehensive Plan are achieved. The design of the exterior of all buildings, open spaces and all exterior physical improvements in the Downcity District shall be regulated and approved through development plan review in accordance with the provisions of this section.

and

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What Cheer/What Jeer 2011

We’re taking a look back at 2011. What Cheering the good and What Jeering the bad.

whatcheer195 Demolition

You guys all know there are like a dozen cities all over the country that are insanely jealous that we tore down our downtown expressway, right?

Putting aside what happens with the 195 Commission (we’ll talk about that in a minute), it is so totally awesome that the highway is gone. Even without any development happening yet, the Jewelry District has been transformed. Suddenly, with the highway gone, people realize the Jewelry District is on the edge of Downcity. And while the sidewalks aren’t exactly jammed, it is certainly noticeable how many people now choose to walk between Downcity and the Jewelry District, who would not before.

Chestnut Street

Route 195 being torn down at Chestnut Street in the Jewelry District

whatcheerBroadway Bike Lanes / Gano Street Sharrows

Anticipated since at least 2008, bike lanes finally showed up on Broadway in 2011.

We also saw the city’s first sharrows show up on Gano and other streets, helping to connect the East Bay and Blackstone bike paths.

Let’s hope we see more bike infrastructure sprouting up on streets all over town in 2012.

whatcheer35 Weybosset Façade

It is going to mean a parking lot, but a parking lot was in the cards all along, we’ve saved the façade for future use and that is going to greatly blunt the impact of the parking lot.

Thanks to the Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Revolving Fund, and all others involved in saving the façade.

35 weybosset rendered

Image: © Chad Gowey 2010. All rights reserved.

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The good news is the façade will be saved

The bad news is the pocket park in that rendering, was artistic license.

35 Weybosset

PPS Executive Director James Hall (l) and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras

Work to move the steel reinforcements from the façade at 35 Weybosset Street and reopen the sidewalk are expected to begin any day now and be completed in January of 2012. With the steel moved to the back, the city will be able to re-open the sidewalk to pedestrians and finish re-paving Weybosset Street through to Turks Head.

In addition to moving the steel, re-opening the sidewalk, and fixing the street, Pezzuco Construction will restore the masonry and weatherize the façade.

Continue Reading →

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New Plan for 35 Weybosset Street Façade to be Announced

35 weybosset rendered

Image: © Chad Gowey 2010. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 14, 2011, 10:00 am, 35 Weybosset Street

On Monday, November 14, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will join the preservation community to announce new plans for the Providence National Bank Building façade. The façade was saved in 2005 when developers proposed to build the tallest residential tower in downtown Providence on the abutting property. Steel bracing has supported the façade since development stalled several years ago, blocking the pedestrian sidewalk on Weybosset Street and disrupting the street’s unique curvature. The Providence Preservation Society, the Providence Revolving Fund, and the City of Providence have been discussing the future of the site with O’Connor Capital Partners for the past year, and new plans for the façade will restore lower Weybosset’s historic streetscape.

Our previous coverage of the 35 Weybosset Façade. Notably, 35 Weybosset Façade: Options

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Downcity Design Review Committee Meeting (35 Weybosset Façade on agenda) – September 12, 2011

NOTICE OF REGULAR MEETING
Monday, September 12, 2011 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development
1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Agenda

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes of August 15, 2011

New Business

35 Weybosset Street

1. DRC Application No. 11.12: 90, 102 and 110 Westminster Street & 35 Weybosset Street (undeveloped lot with remaining façade of 35 Weybosset Street)
Proposal to relocate the structural steel supporting the Weybosset Street façade from the right-of-way to the interior of the lot, and to conduct repairs to the façade.

Continue Reading →

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What Cheer/What Jeer 2010

What Cheer/What Jeer was originally supposed to be a monthly, or a quarterly thing, but you know what, it is a lot of work putting a list like this together, so it has become an annual thing. So join us as we take a look back at 2010, What Cheering the good and What Jeering the bad.

whatcheerProvidence River Pedestrian Bridge

Whether you love it or hate it, Providence will soon be getting a new pedestrian bridge over the Providence River. Design firms large and small from around the world entered the competition that led to the winning design. And the competition got people around the city interested in transportation and design.

providence-river-pedestrian-bridge

whatcheerRIPTA

Last year we declared that 2010 would be “The Year of RIPTA” and not to be too smug about it but, we were kinda right.

In December 2009 RIPTA and the City of Providence released the Metro Transit Study, which drew a lot of attention to its proposal to run a streetcar line through Providence. This year, RIPTA embarked on their Core Connector Study, the first step toward bringing streetcars back to Providence. In June, U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Providence and was very excited about our future plans. RIPTA also took delivery of a new fleet of hybrid buses and trolleys in October. This year also saw RIPTA unveil a 5-year plan for the future of transit in Rhode Island. Finally, RIPTA hired a new CEO, Charles Odimgbe. It is early days yet in Mr. Odimgbe’s tenure, so it remains to be seen if he’ll be What Cheered or What Jeered next year.

Certainly all was not good for RIPTA this year, 2010 saw the continuation of an annual tradition wherein RIPTA’s budget falls short resulting in the agency looking to cut routes and/or increase fares. This year they went with increasing fares yet again. Here’s hoping the incoming Governor and General Assembly can work to address the issues surrounding RIPTA’s budget.

whatcheerElection 2010

What an exciting year that was. New Mayor, new Governor, new Congressman from Providence (even if he is a freshman and in the minority party, that’s good for us!), many new City Councilors, Shoveitgate, The Uncaucas, Chris Young… Let’s do that again real soon (well, not too soon).

whatcheerThe Interlink & MBTA to Warwick

October saw the opening of the long awaited Interlink. The skybridge connects T.F. Green Airport to a parking garage, rental car facilities, and a train station via a skybridge with moving sidewalks over Post Road. The Interlink opening was followed in December by the extension of MBTA Commuter Rail service from Providence to the station at the Interlink facility. Next year that service will be expanded and will go further south to a new station currently under construction at Wickford Junction.

Interlink

whatcheerThe Box Office

The Box Office was completed this year. The building, made out of shipping containers brought national attention to Providence within the construction and design communities for its innovative design. Developers from near and far want to replicate the building in their communities.

whatcheerThe Arts

We What Cheered the arts last year, and we’re What Cheering them again this year. Woonsocket’s Riverzedge and Providence’s Community Music Works each took home one of fifteen 2010 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Awards (after Providence’s New Urban Arts won the same award last year (go Rhody!)). AS220 celebrated their 25th Anniversary this year, commissioned RISD alum Shepard Fairy to create a mural on Aborn Street, and is wrapping up renovation on its third Downcity Building, The Mercantile Block. And basically, art in Providence just continued to be pretty damn awesome. Buy Art!

Last year, we weren’t really in the mood to What Jeer, we had jeered enough I guess. But this year, oh, here go hell come, are you ready? Let’s do it.

whatjeerRIDOT

RIDOT, seriously, you’re killing us here. While we’ve said it time and again, we really like what Director Michael Lewis has to say about not being able to build more highways to end congestion and needing to be multi-modal and what not… the Director’s words have not been matching the agency’s actions.

From the craptacular original design of the Wickenden Street intersection related to the 195 Relocation, to the ridiculous placement of signs on the sidewalk on the Friendship Street bridge, to the utter disregard for any mode other than automobiles in the planning of the new Union Avenue Bridge, and more, RIDOT has proven that they have a long way to go in understanding how to build infrastructure in an urban environment and serve a multi-modal population.

Governor-elect Chafee has decided to keep Director Lewis on at RIDOT, a decision we agree with. Let’s hope that the Director can make the agency’s actions match his own and the Governor’s visions for how our transportation system should look. We’re hoping next year we might be able to What Cheer RIDOT.

whatjeerThe Arcade/35 Weybosset

Though these are separate properties, they are linked in the public consciousness and the destiny of each may best be served by thinking of them together. The What Jeer here is pretty obvious, the Arcade still sits empty and the facade at 35 Weybosset Street remains neglected.

The neglect of the 35 Weybosset facade is the clearest example available of a developer attempting a demolition by neglect, and he is beginning to get a lot of support for that option, though we clearly think there is a better way.

As for the Arcade, we might have to agree with one of our commenters that the best course of action is eminent domain.

whatjeerGrove Street School

Seeing as the Grove Street School’s current owner, Michael Tarro won election to the General Assembly, the school’s future seems more tenuous than ever.

Grove Street School

The good news is, the new City Councilor for Ward 13, Bryan Principe is an ardent supporter of the building. Let’s hope Bryan and the new Mayor can work on an arrangement with Mr. Tarro on the building’s future.

whatjeerCVS

While in the end, CVS agreed to some minor concessions on their initial proposal for a CVS in Edgewood, they’re still basically dropping a box from the sky into the middle of a parking lot. We still don’t know why CVS hates Rhode Island.

whatjeerUnion Wadding Mill Fire

Did they ever catch the bastard who did this? There’s a $10,000 reward you know.

Photo from Pawtucket Foundation Facebook Page

whatjeerParkinglotification

Last year we What Cheered the Smith-Mathewson Building proposed for where the Downcity Diner used to be. This year it is a parking lot. Sigh.

whatjeerAtwells Avenue

As if enduring 14 months of construction at the intersection with Dean Street wasn’t bad enough, at the other end of the Avenue we had a girl who works at a Salon and a City Councilor run down by errant drivers within weeks of each other. We all know which one got the most attention from the media, including us.

After years of people getting hit on Atwells, to the point where those of us who live up there see it as part of life, the hit and run of Councilman Hassett did serve to jolt us all out of our malaise on the topic. After years of inaction we now have some repainted crosswalks, more signs, and a speed bump at the western end of the Avenue (where most of the pedestrians have been struck). Much more needs to be done to improve the safety situation not just on Atwells, but on roads throughout the city.

Let us not fall back into our malaise where we accept people being struck by cars as an inevitable part of city life, it is not. Let us make sure that we follow through on the outrage that followed the Councilman’s injuries and act to do all we can to ensure that it does not happen again.


We could probably go on, but let’s wrap up the What Cheering and What Jeering there. Feel free to add you own in the comments.

Thank you to everyone who reads and contributes to Greater City: Providence. It was a great year discussing the city we all love.

Happy New Year!

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News & Notes

→ A Downtown Hub Is Missed, and a Replacement Is Stalled

Two years have passed since the demolition of Filene’s Basement, where generations of Bostonians tussled over cut-rate designer clothes in a dingy but fiercely loved downtown store.

In its place, a $700 million tower was to rise with offices, condominiums, a hotel and a new Filene’s for the bargain hungry. But the recession halted the project, possibly for good, leaving Boston with a deserted construction pit in one of its busiest neighborhoods.

In Providence, R.I., a crumbling brick facade is all that remains of the landmark Providence National Bank building, which was razed in 2005 to make way for a now-canceled residential tower.

[The New York Times]

→ Providence National Bank, a sign of The Times

Ted Nesi at WPRI takes a look back at the history of the Providence National Bank in response to the above New York Times story.

[WPRI]

→ on pedestrian malls: look to australia

First of all, don’t compare North America to Europe. The history and ambient density and urban momentum are all too different. Compare North America to Australia, where the history and economics are similar but a cultural difference led to a different outcome.

[Human Transit]

→ The Rise of ‘DIMBYism': Open Data Is the Key to Smarter Communities
[The Huffington Post]

→ Obama’s Infrastructure Proposal: A Good Start That Needs Work
[The City Fix]

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35 Weybosset Facade back in the news

ProJo has a story today about the 35 Weybosset Street facade.

Of course, the area merchants are still not happy about the state of the facade (crumbling) and the fact that the sidewalk in front of it is closed. Why would they not still be upset? Nothing has changed since last fall when O’Connor Capital Partners, the parcel’s owners, sought to demolish the facade.

The Journal story brings to light the fact that O’Connor has not only not been maintaining the facade and vacant lot which was to be OneTen Westminster Street, but that they also owe the city over $10,000 for fees related to the closure of the sidewalk on Weybosset Street.

The city may revoke O’Connor’s right to have the sidewalk closed if they do not pay the back fees, which may just play right into their hands of wanting the facade removed. Rumor on the street is they want the facade removed so that they can sell the parcel. The facade and the restrictions agreed to incorporate it into a new building potentially reduce the value of the lot.

While the area merchants just want to facade gone as the solution to the closed sidewalk issues, James Hall, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society would like to see a solution that preserves the facade.

While the Preservation Society’s Hall is sympathetic to business owners’ concerns, he hopes for a more creative solution than demolition.

He says the city derives its authenticity from the fact that its residents have so vigorously preserved its past from the wrecking ball — from the historic houses along Benefit Street to the Masonic Temple by the State House, now home to the Renaissance Providence Hotel.

“Preservation did not create this problem, so it’s tough for us to say, OK, just tear it down already,” Hall said. “That’s rewarding bad policy and bad behavior.”

Late last year we outlined some possible solutions for the facade issue.

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Lots in Limbo (May 7)


Image from Lots in Limbo

Lots in Limbo
Providence Reimagines Its Downtown

Art Installation
Friday, May 7
10am-7pm
110 Westminster Street
Providence, RI

Outdoor Screening of “Beyond the Motor City: A Documentary Film About the Past and Future of Transportation”
Friday, May 7
8pm
Grant’s Block, Corner of Westminster Street and Union Street
Providence, RI

The Lots in Limbo Project

110 Westminster Street is one of many vacant lots in downtown Providence. What’s the history of this space? What possibilities does its future hold?

On Friday, May 7, come to 110 Westminster Street to take part in an interactive art installation reflecting the dreams for this space that Providence locals shared in interviews with Brown University students. At the event, we also invite you to weigh in with your own hopes for what this space – and other vacant sites in the city – might be one day.

To learn more about Providence’s vacant lots, the history of 110 Westminster, and what people would like to see in these spaces, visit our website.

110 Westminster Street is of course the other side of 35 Weybosset Street, which we have been talking about here, a lot. And “Beyond Motor City” is an excellent documentary on transportation, primarily focused on Detroit, well worth seeing.

Read this post to see what we think should happen at 35 Weybosset/110 Westminster.

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Downcity Design Review Committee – March 8, 2010

Before we get into the agenda, let’s talk about what is missing from the agenda, namely 35 Weybosset Street.

You may remember that back in November the DRC was asked to consider allowing the demolition of the facade at 35 Weybosset Street. I was not happy about it. The DRC sent the property owner packing telling him to come up with either a plan to save the facade (as was ordered when OneTen Westminster was first proposed) or to come up with a compelling reason why it needs to go (preferably the saving option).

Months have gone by and the owner has not sought to return to the DRC. Now we have the first DRC meeting in months, and 35 Weybosset is not on the agenda. Word on the street is the owner is looking to sell the property. In the short term this is good news, as the immediate threat of demolition is gone. This is also bad as the owner seems to not be properly maintaining the facade, and if they become absentee, emolition by neglect is a concern. Also, any new owner may start the quest to demolish the facade anew, and if it is suffering from the previous owner’s neglect, they may get permission.

On with this month’s agenda:


DOWNCITY DESIGN REVIEW COMMITTEE NOTICE OF REGULAR MEETING
MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2010 4:45 PM
Department of Planning and Development, 4th Floor Auditorium 400 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

Call to Order
Roll Call
Approval of Meeting Minutes of November 9, 2009
Approval of 2010 DRC Annual Meeting Schedule
Annual Election of Vice Chair

Project Review

1. DRC Application No. 10.03, 180 Washington Street (formerly First Bank and Trust Company Building (1972), now vacant)
Proposal to renovate the existing vacant bank building for Coastway Community Bank. Work includes landscaping the adjacent parking areas.

2. DRC Application No. 10.04, 111 Westminster Street (formerly Industrial Trust Company Building (1928), Now Bank of America Tower)
Proposal to replace the existing steel frame windows in the lantern at the top of the building with new anodized aluminum windows to match existing.

3. DRC Application No. 10.05, 55 Canal Street (Arnold Hoffman Building (1848), now RISD Illustration Studies Building)
Proposal to replace the existing double-hung windows with new replacement windows.

Adjournment

Agenda [.pdf]


Old Washington Trust Bank

Former Washington Trust Bank, Photo by Jef Nickerson

So 180 Washington is a little dissappointing. I was hoping that someone would come up with some creative re-use for this building which was vacated by Washington Trust last year. By creative I was thinking, not another bank. Another bank likely means the drive-thru will be pressed back into service, though maybe Coastway won’t want a drive-thru (I’m not holding my breath).

It will be better to have the building occupied rather than vacant, but sigh, another bank. I assume this means that Coastway is leaving their Green Street location.

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