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Providence seeks comments on proposed Re:Zoning through July 7th

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Wednesday evening Mayor Taveras and the Planning Department presented the final draft of the proposed rezoning plan for the City of Providence. The City is accepting comments on the plan through July 7th. After that it heads to the City Council for final approval.

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City launches storefront improvement grant program

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From the City:


Mayor Taveras Launches Storefront Improvement Program to Revitalize Building Facades, Support Small Businesses

Program is a priority in Mayor’s economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras, joined by local business owners and business leaders, announced the launch of a new storefront improvement program this morning. The program will support the revitalization of building facades and small businesses across Providence. The initiative is one of the steps identified in Mayor Taveras’ 20-point economic development plan, Putting Providence Back to Work.

“Providence is known for its diverse, historic neighborhoods, which are anchored by small businesses,” said Mayor Taveras. “The storefront improvement program is designed to attract customers to existing businesses, revitalize local business districts, and enhance the beauty and safety of Providence’s neighborhoods.”

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2014 State of the City Address

Mayor Angel Taveras delivered his final State of the City Address last night at City Hall:


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Image from Angel Taveras Twitter feed


Working and Investing in Providence

Mayor Angel Taveras – 2014 State of the City Address
Tuesday, February 11, 2014

(as prepared for delivery)

Mr. President, honorable members of the Providence City Council, distinguished guests, and fellow residents of our great Capital City –

In April, I had the pleasure to be present for the Omni Group’s purchase of the C.J. Fox factory. Anyone who drives on Route 95 South through our city knows the Omni Group has been hard at work renovating the complex at the entrance to historic Federal Hill.

The Omni Group is a homegrown company, headquartered in Providence. Like most businesses, they went through some tough times beginning in 2008. Financing their project became a major challenge when Wall Street imploded and the economy went into a tailspin.

But the Omni Group made it through the hard times, and now they are moving forward and investing $5 million to convert the old factory complex into office space. Bill DiStefano, Omni’s President and CEO, told me they decided to expand their business again because they believe Providence is heading in the right direction.

I tell you this story because it speaks to the overall state of our city. The state of our city is improving.

We’ve been through the hard times of the Great Recession. But we never lost hope. And we never stopped believing that better days were ahead. We are working hard and making investments that will propel Providence into a future of greater economic strength and prosperity.

I want to talk to you tonight about all we’ve done to move Providence forward in the past year. And then I want to talk to you about what we will do in the coming months.

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Christmas tree lighting in Kennedy Plaza – December 7, 2013

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All the details on this Saturday’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony and other festivities from the City of Providence:


Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 6pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Families and residents are invited to kick-off the festive season of shopping and homecomings in the Capital City on Saturday, when Mayor Angel Taveras hosts the City of Providence’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting festivities.

The ceremony will take place on Saturday, December 7 at 6 p.m. at the Bank of America Skating Center. It will be emceed by Mayor Taveras and NBC 10’s Morning anchor, Barbara Morse Silva. Tony the Dancing Cop will be stationed at Washington Street and Dorrance Street at 5:30pm to welcome guests.

The ceremony will include performances by RPM Voices of Rhode Island featuring RPM Youth Voices, the Brown University Skating Band and the 4th and 5th grade chorus from the Lillian Feinstein at Sackett Street Elementary School. A figure skating demonstration by regional award winners will follow the ceremony, and Santa will be on the ice when public skating resumes.

Members of the Johnson & Wales University chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa will provide refreshments and sell ornaments to benefit Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Stanley Tree Service is donating crane service for the trees.

The event is sponsored by the Providence Department of Parks and Recreation, the Providence Tourism Council, Whole Foods Market University Heights, Dave’s Coffee and Zipcar Providence.

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Read the Providence Bicycling Master Plan

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Mayor Taveras introduced the updated Providence Bicycling Master Plan this morning at a press conference at Pleasant Valley Parkway where new bike lanes were recently striped.

The Master Plan is meant to be a living document and the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission will be accepting further comment on the plan.

Update: Press release from the Mayor’s Office

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Release of Providence Bicycle Master Plan – November 5, 2013

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Bike Providence:

A Bicycling Master Plan for Providence

Join Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission for the release of Bike Providence.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
9:45-10:30am
Pleasant Valley Parkway – near River Avenue

Bring your bicycle and enjoy the new bike paths along Pleasant Valley Parkway!

The Bike Providence plan will guide the investment of future funding for the Providence bicycle network, promote a bicycle-friendly culture, set priorities for bicycling improvements, and expand the citywide network. The public comment period for the plan will continue through Friday, November 22, 2013.

This project is funded by a Planning Challenge Grant from the Rhode Island Division of Planning.

For more information contact Dave Everett, Department of Planning and Development, (401) 680-8520 or deverett@providencri.com.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
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Ribbon-Cutting of Burnside Park ‘Imagination Station’ – August 22, 2013

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Ribbon-Cutting by Mayor Taveras of the new ‘Imagination Station’ in Burnside Park kicks off a day of events.

Mayor Angel Taveras, the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy and Southwest Airlines will unveil and open a new ‘Imagination Center’ in Burnside Park on Thursday, August 22. The Imagination Center, created with a grant from Southwest Airlines, will serve as a new place for children’s activities within Burnside Park.

The Imagination Center is a fun destination for arts and crafts, interactive play and more, bringing the local community together and enriching the current activities in Burnside Park. The Center will be surrounded by picnic tables, beanbags and a wood deck, and will also include book carts, planting beds, and an Imagination playground play set.

Mayor Angel Taveras and representatives of Southwest Airlines and the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy will hold a ribbon-cutting for the new Center at 10 a.m., kicking off a day of scheduled activities at Burnside Park.

Activities include:

  • 10am–10:30am: Official ribbon-cutting
  • 10:30am–11:30am: Join Kidoinfo Storytime with Mayor Taveras, who will read his book, How to Do Well in School, along with guests local illustrator Jen Corace and author/illustrator Alison Paul
  • 11:30am–12:30pm: Participate in a Kidoinfo Art in the Park project based on Dr. Suess’ Yertle the Turtle
  • 12:30pm–1pm: Enjoy complimentary PVD Pops popsicles for participating children, participate in additional art projects and receive complimentary blank books and instructions for how to make your own book
  • 1pm–2pm: Experience the Imagination Playground with free play and table games for children
  • 4:30pm–7:30pm: Listen to a musical performance at the Burnside Park Music Series and Beer Garden, while enjoying beverages from Trinity Brewhouse

Full disclosure, I am a member of the Board of the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy.

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10 reasons why the Apponaug Circulator is ‘not ready to go’

The Providence streetcar project is not the only TIGER grant application coming from Rhode Island. RIDOT has also submitted an application for the Apponaug Circulator Long-term Improvements Project .

The Mayor has thrown his support behind the streetcar however the Governor (former Mayor of Warwick) is not on board, saying through a spokesperson to WPRI that the streetcar project is, “not ready to go.”

I contend that it is the Apponaug project is not ready to go, here’s why:

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RIDOT rendering of Four Corners in Apponaug.

1. 20th century traffic solutions

The one-way circulation as it exists today was a temporary response to the construction of the Post Road Extension by-pass built in the 1970’s. High-speed traffic from that bypass was dumped into the one-way circulation to reach Routes 117 and 1 at the southern side of Apponaug.

The current circulator project seeks to relieve problems cause by heavy through traffic and fix “numerous roadway deficiencies [that] exist along all legs the circulator, including narrow lane widths, narrow or nonexistent shoulder widths, insufficient horizontal curves, poor curb reveal, and poorly defined curb openings.” At the same time, it seeks to improve the environment for area businesses, pedestrians, and cyclists.

These wide lanes, wide shoulders, broad curves, and etc. are exactly what make a village center environment such as Apponaug a poor place for pedestrians and cyclists and by extension, a poor place to run a business. This kind of engineering perpetuates the high-speed movement of automobiles and will not help get pass-through traffic to stop and patronize area businesses.

Basically, these conditions extend the road environment of the Post Road Extension straight through Apponaug.

2. Walkability

While the plan calls for reducing the section of Post Road between Four Corners and Williams Corner, the main historic business district, to one lane and installing curb extensions leading to raised crosswalks through that section, the rest of the roadways through the project feature four-lane arterials with wide shoulders; not an ideal environment for pedestrians.

The project features four roundabouts and one tear-shaped not quite roundabout at Williams Corner. While the proposal claims that, “A key characteristic of roundabouts is their ability to handle pedestrian crossings safely,” I’m dubious about the safety of pedestrians in any roundabout that has two-lanes of high-speed traffic moving in each direction. ‘Yield to pedestrians’ and speed limit signs can be put up all over the place, but traffic will move at the speed the road is engineered to allow it to move at.

The business district portion has good pedestrian enhancements, the rest of the project area is not ideal and continues to cut pedestrians off from the surrounding areas.

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Providence streetcar back on track

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Rendering of proposed Providence Streetcar at Empire Street.

In late 2009 then Mayor David Cicilline unveiled the Metro Transit Study, calling for the return of streetcars to Providence. In the intervening years, the Core Connector study has looked at the possibilities for doing just that, through studies and public meetings. A locally preferred alternative route connecting the East Side with the Hospitals area in Upper South Providence has been approved by RIPTA.

Then, we entered our fiscal emergency and the streetcar was put on the back burner.

In March of this year, Mayor Taveras gave his Economic Report and expressed his support for seeing the streetcar project continue. Last week, the City of Providence Department of Planning and Development applied for a Federal TIGER grant to partially fund the streetcar project.

The TIGER Grant Application calls for $39 million in federal funds to use towards the $114 million project.

The grant states the remainder of the project would be funded by City TIF Bonds ($54.32 M), RI Capital Plan funds ($15 M), RIPTA CMAQ funds ($5.25 M), and a RIDOT land transfer ($0.80 M).

Operating funds and debt service totaling $6.93 million per year would be funded by the TIF; an Assessment District; parking revenues; fares (~$2), sponsorships, and advertising revenues; and a three year CMAQ subsidy.

The TIGER Grant application included letters of support from RIPTA, the RI Convention Center, Brown University, the College Hill and Jewelry District neighborhood associations, the Providence Foundation, Grow Smart RI, AARP of Rhode Island, the Sierra Club of Rhode Island, House Speaker Gordon Fox, and others.

If the City receives the TIGER funding, construction could begin as early as 2015 following completion of design and environmental revue, with service commencing in 2017.

1The Governor would rather we build a rotary and by-pass road in Warwick.
2Yes, that’s me from 2011.

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Bike to Work Day: Mayor announces expanded Cyclovía program for 2013

Bike To Work Day: Mayor announces expanded Cyclovía program for 2013

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Photo from Mayor Taveras’ Facebook Page

Las September, Providence had it’s first Cyclovía on Broad Street. At this morning’s Bike To Work Day, the Mayor announced an expanded list of Cyclovías in Providence for 2013.

City to hold three Cyclovías this summer

Speaking at this morning’s Bike to Work Day community celebration, Mayor Angel Taveras announced the city will host an expanded schedule of Providence Cyclovía events this summer.

“Cyclovía Providence will provide an opportunity for residents from every corner of the city to come together, exercise, have fun and enjoy all that Providence has to offer,” said Mayor Taveras.

Cyclovía is an international phenomenon that reportedly began in Bogotá, Colombia and has spread to cities across the globe, including New York City, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and Cambridge, MA.

Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit planning organization, has described Cyclovía as a large-scale community building exercise that facilitates social interaction and activity between people of all ages, incomes, occupations, religions and races.

The City held its first Cyclovía in September 2012 on Broad Street. The 2013 Cyclovías will be expanded to the following dates and locations:

  • Sunday, June 30 – Broad St. in Elmwood (between Thurbers Ave. and Prairie Ave.)
  • Sunday, July 28 – Valley St. in Olneyville (between San Souci Dr. and Atwells Ave.)
  • Saturday, September 14 – Hope St. in the East Side (between Lippitt Park and Rochambeau Ave.)

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Developing: Mayor’s Economic Report

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Mayor Taveras unveiling his economic development plan this morning. Photo from the Mayor’s Facebook page

Mayor Taveras is unveiling his Economic Development Reportpdf.

Pledging Action, Mayor Taveras Outlines Plan to Grow Providence’s Economy

‘Putting Providence Back to Work’ report presents roadmap to improve the business climate, infrastructure and human capital in Rhode Island’s Capital City

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras today announced a 20-step economic development action plan to put Providence residents back to work and jumpstart the economy of Rhode Island’s Capital City.

The Mayor said that Providence’s economy must be built on the success of a broad range of industries and sectors, and pledged swift action to improve Providence’s business climate, infrastructure and human capital.

“When we work together, we can compete head to head with any city or state in this country,” said Mayor Taveras. “Nothing will change minds about Providence as much as continuing our track record of success.”
The Mayor outlined five immediate steps his administration will pursue to support and grow Providence’s economy:

  1. Freeze the commercial tax rate – The Taveras administration will work with the Providence City Council to enact a seven-year commercial real estate tax freeze that guarantees consistency and stability for developers in Rhode Island and beyond.


    “Freezing our commercial property tax rate will send a message that Providence is serious about attracting new business. We look forward to the day when economic growth in our City enables us to actually lower Providence’s commercial rate,” Mayor Taveras said.
  2. Fix the City’s Permitting Process – Contained in the FY14 budget that Mayor Taveras will present to the City Council next month are two positions to staff a new unit in the Department of Inspections and Standards focused solely on reviewing and approving small-permit applications of under $100,000. These small projects account for 75 percent of all permit applications in the City.


    Additionally, this summer the City will move its permit application process online. For the first time, developers will only need to log onto the City’s website to apply for a permit and get status updates on their applications.
  3. Remove Barriers to Redevelopment – The City will conduct an inventory of all major properties in need of redevelopment. For properties that are not defined as historic landmarks, the City will put on a fast-track for approval all projects to replace existing structures with new construction.

    “We recognize that the City has an important role to play in facilitating new development. It is time to get cranes in the air and put people to work rebuilding our city,” Mayor Taveras said.
  4. Develop Surface Lots Citywide – To stimulate real estate development and ease the crunch on parking downtown, the Taveras administration will work with the City Council to provide tax stabilizations to developers who commit to new development on existing surface lots. New construction on an existing lot will be taxed based on the property’s current assessed value. This program will create jobs, incentivize new, mixed-use developments, and spur new investment on Providence’s major commercial corridors.
  5. Reinvent Kennedy Plaza – The City will work with the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, RIPTA and other public and private partners to reconfigure and reduce the number of buses in the Plaza and transform it into a pedestrian destination.

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So, the Mayor said this…

On Channel 10 News Conference as reported by RINPR regarding the Superman Building…

The use that I really don’t want to see happen, but we have to put everything on the table is, is it more efficient to take it down and put something else up? I think that would be a tragedy in the sense it’s part of our history.

Discuss…

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St. Joseph’s Day celebration at Providence City Hall today

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Photo from LaSalle Bakery

Mayor Taveras to Host Annual St. Joseph’s Day Celebration at Providence City Hall

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will host the annual St. Joseph’s Day Celebration at Providence City Hall this afternoon. General Secretary and Treasurer of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, Armand Sabitoni, will be the honorary guest speaker at this year’s celebration on the second and third floors of City Hall. There will be traditional Italian musical performances by Bill Moretti and Domenic DePasquale and Rev. Dean Perri of the Catholic Diocese of Providence will deliver an invocation.

WHO: Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; Armand Sabitoni; Reverend Dean Perri
WHAT: Annual St. Joseph’s Day Celebration at Providence City Hall
WHEN: Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 1-1:30 pm
WHERE: Second and third floors, Providence City Hall

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St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Providence City Hall today

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Mayor Taveras to Host Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Providence City Hall

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras will host the annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Providence City Hall this afternoon. Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin will be the honorary guest speaker at this year’s formal celebration on the second and third floors of City Hall. City Hall will be filled with traditional musical and dance performances by the Providence Police Department Pipes and Drums and the Goulding School of Irish Dance. Rev. Timothy Reilly of the Catholic Diocese of Providence will deliver a blessing and invocation and Mayor Taveras will present a Mayoral Citation to the Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee.

WHO: Providence Mayor Angel Taveras; Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin; Reverend Timothy Reilly
WHAT: Annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration at Providence City Hall
WHEN: Friday, March 15, 2013, 1-1:30 pm
WHERE: 2nd floor, Providence City Hall
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Providence Named as Grand Prize Winner in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge

bloombergMayor Angel Taveras joined today with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to announce that the City of Providence is the grand prize winner in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire American cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges and improve city life – and that ultimately can be shared with other cities to improve the well-being of the nation. Providence was selected as a Mayors Challenge winner out of a pool of over 300 applicant cities, based on four criteria: vision, ability to implement, potential for impact, and potential for replication.

Providence will be awarded a $5 million innovation prize to implement its idea to improve the vocabularies of preschool-age children throughout the City by measuring and rapidly increasing the number of words spoken in their households. Providence will also receive a sculpture created by world-renowned designer Olafur Eliasson to commemorate each of the Mayors Challenge winners.



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