Tag Archives | Colleges/Universities

PBN: JWU purchases former Club Karma for $1.6M


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.


Local News & Notes


Proposed South Street Landing parking garage. Rendering by Spagnolo Gisness & Associates, Inc.

I’ve been quite busy offline the last few weeks. Here’s a selection of local stories I’ve been trying to catch myself up on: New MBTA ‘bullet trains’ will get riders from Worcester to Boston in less than an hour

Riding the rails from Worcester to Boston should take less time come May. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Wednesday announced the addition of a non-stop bullet train and two additional express trains on the Worcester/Framingham line.

“This is a game changer,” Polito said, referring to it as a quality of life issue. “For the first time ever, a non-stop train leaves Worcester and arrives in Boston in less than an hour.

Can the Providence line haz ‘bullet trains’ too pleaz?

The Providence Journal Fed-ordered drainage work will cost RIDOT $112 million

Faced with a consent decree requiring it to comply with federal clean water rules, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation has budgeted $112 million over the next decade to clean and repair its ailing network of drainage systems around the state.

DOT director Peter Alviti said the state agency plans to annually spend between $6.6 million and $16.8 million on drainage improvements as part of its 10-year strategic plan in a bid to correct years of inaction and reduce the amount of polluted stormwater that flows into Narragansett Bay and other local water bodies from state roads.

Look back to 2013 when Save The Bay highlighted the issue that surface run-off, not sewer overflow was what was most contributing to beach closures that year. RIDOT didn’t even know where it’s run-off was coming from, while we, the Narragansett Bay Commission rate-payers, are paying crazy sewer bills for a giant pipe to hold our poo.

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


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.

Johnson & Wales University begins work on 195 parcel


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.


PBN: Roger Williams University more than doubling downtown presence


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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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PBN: Legal tangle hinders power station redevelopment


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.


URI/RIC Nursing School at the South Street Power Station?

Dynamo House

Ted Nesi reports for WPRI about the possibility of the South Street Power Station (aka the Dynamo House) being used as the location for the proposed URI/RIC Nursing School.

Yesterday Brown announced their intention to build their expanded School of Engineering on College Hill, ending speculation that Brown would use the old power station located in the Jewelry District.


Brown Daily Herald: Fee on non-R.I. Brown students proposed

Rep. John Carnevale, D-Providence and Johnston, introduced legislation in the General Assembly that would place a $50 fee per semester on every out-of-state student attending Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design and Johnson and Wales University Feb. 14. The money raised from this fee would cover the redevelopment of the land opened up by the relocation of I-195, an area each university included in the fee has expressed interest in acquiring. Carnevale said in a press release he chose to raise funds from these universities because he did not want the state to invest heavily in land that would ultimately benefit “wealthy institutions” more than taxpayers.

“If one of those schools buys some land today, relatively cheap, and sells it five years from now when the area is active and thriving, who will reap the profit? Not the taxpayers,” Carnevale said in the press release.

I’m not prepared at the moment to talk about how damn foolish I think this proposal is, but feel free to discuss amongst yourselves in the comments.


City Plan Commission Meeting – January 15, 2013

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development • 1st Floor Meeting Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from November 20th 2012 meeting – for action
  • Approval of minutes from December 18th 2012 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Major Land Development Project

1. Case No. 12-011 MA – 257 Thayer Street (Final Plan Approval) The CPC approved the preliminary plan to construct a four story mixed use building with 95 dwelling units, underground parking and a landscaped courtyard in December 2012. The applicant is seeking final plan approval subject to fulfillment of preliminary plan conditions – for action (AP 13 Lots 42, 48, 104, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238 and 241, College Hill)

See also: UPDATED: Graduate student housing apartment building proposed on Thayer Street

Institutional Master Plan

2. Amendment of Providence College’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP) The applicant is seeking to amend the IMP to reflect the institution’s requests for street abandonments and changes to the Institutional Overlay Zone – for action (Elmhurst)

See also: Letter to the campus from P.C.’s President regarding their PILOT agreement

City Council Referral

3. Referral 3359 – Abandonment of portions of Huxley Avenue, Wardlaw Avenue and Cumberland Street Petition by Providence College to abandon Huxley Avenue between AP 119 lot 8 and lot 229 and Cumberland Street between AP 81 lot 189 and lot 195 and Wardlaw Avenue from AP 81 lot 186 to lot 189 – for action (Elmhurst)

4. Referral 3360 – Extension of I-2 overlay zone Petition by Providence College to extend the I-2[1] overlay district to include certain lots on Wardlaw Avenue and Cumberland Street – for action (Elmhurst, AP 81 Lots 186, 188 and 189-196)

See also: Presumed Parking Lot-ification

CPC Administration

5. Election of Officers Election of CPC officers – for discussion and action


[1] I-2 Educational Institutions – This zone is intended to permit higher education institutions and their expansion in a planned manner while protecting the surrounding neighborhoods. (Providence Zoning Ordinance)


The New York Times: Historic Power Plant in Providence, R.I., May Get Another Chance at an Encore

The New York Times reports that Brown University may be interested in redeveloping the South Street Power Station, better known as the location of the stalled “Dynamo House” project.

According to James S. Bennett, director of economic development for Providence, “serious” possible tenants have looked at the building in recent months, though he declined to say who they were. Sources knowledgeable about the site said that Brown University might be interested since Dynamo House is in the city’s Jewelry District, where Brown has expanded in recent years.

Mr. Bennett said the city had made finding a new use for the building a priority, and would not consider the alternative: “It’s not going to be torn down,” he said.

See also:
Greater City Providence: What’s going on with the Dynamo House?
Via: Nesi’s Notes

What Cheer / What Jeer 2012

It is that time of year for us to take a look back and What Cheer the good and What Jeer the bad.


Work commences on the Washington Bridge Linear Park

It has been in the works for years, but finally RIDOT has started work on the Washington Bridge Linear Park.

Through a $22 million contract, RIDOT will rebuild the remaining section of the original Washington Bridge that carries the existing bikeway and a section of the original highway bridge. In the same footprint will be a much wider bikeway and linear park. It will feature a separate bikeway and walking path, scenic overlooks, park benches, flag poles, decorative lighting and landscaped planters. The project also calls for restoration of the historic, multi-arch granite façade of the Washington Bridge and two operator’s houses from which an original drawbridge was controlled.

When opened, the new linear park will be named the George Redman Linear Park, after the East Providence resident who was instrumental in making the East Bay Bike Path a reality 25 years ago. Redman continues to advocate for bike path development across the state.


Wind Turbines at Fields Point

While they were installed in January, the whole City was speculating when the would finally start spinning. Turns out they wouldn’t start up until October. But now they are finally spinning and adding some environmental goodness to the Providence skyline. Hope we’ll some more.


Overnight parking expansion

While it has been studied endlessly for years (even as the rest of the world seemed to be able to embrace it and not devolve into chaos), in April, overnight parking has finally started spreading throughout the City.

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News & Notes

The New York Times: A Michigan City Bets on Food for Its Growth

The idea of building a year-round public market to tie the city’s skilled chefs to the region’s big complement of young farmers had already attained an air of inevitability by the time this Midwestern city held its first Restaurant Week three summers ago.

Next year, just in time for the fourth annual Restaurant Week, Grand Rapids is scheduled to open the $30 million, 130,000-square-foot Downtown Market, a destination that is expected to attract 500,000 visitors a year. The three-story brick and glass building, under construction in a neighborhood of vacant turn-of-the-20th century warehouses, is intended by its developers to be a state-of-the art center of commerce for the culinary arts and fresh local foods.

It is also seen as having the potential to accomplish much more.

My SimCity version of Providence in my head has a Public Market building on the parking lot next to Ri Ra, with through access from Burnside Park to Waterplace Park.

The Atlantic Cities: 5 Models for Cheaper, Greener Housing for Veterans

Earlier this year, I wrote about a terrific project providing apartments, supportive services and job training for veterans in central Milwaukee. On the green side, Veterans Manor earned a 92 out of a possible 100 points on a local “Green Built” standard, while enjoying a transit-accessible location with a Walk Score of 72. The building has a commercial kitchen that services both the residents and local schools while providing job training and experience.

When we discussed the statewide ballot questions the cost of the Veterans Home came up, $94 million bond. My other reservation about the Veterans Home was its location.

The WalkScore for the existing Veterans Home in Bristol is, “42 Car-Dependant.” A Veterans Home is populated by many elderly and disabled people, which is why they need a home, most of those people cannot drive. Additionally, services are provided for homeless Veterans who obviously cannot afford a car and need access to public transit and jobs.

If they were in a town center or near a bus line at least, they would have opportunity to leave the home and interact with members of the community, keeping them active and vital. Being stuck in a home on Metacom Avenue in Bristol is not the best we can do for our Veterans.

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