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News & Notes

Kennedy Plaza

Two ProJo articles last weekend about Kennedy Plaza:

→ The Providence Journal: A View from Providence: Hangout or hub, Kennedy Plaza certainly is quirky

People get off buses. Others get on. Some stand in line, others stand around. They wear headphones and backpacks, some carry bags.
The plaza draws folks from all walks. Students. Workers. Homeless. Peddlers. Visitors.

→ The Providence Journal: Some argue that good parks and public spaces can revitalize RI economy

In Kennedy Plaza, bus and vehicle traffic compete with people wanting to use the park. There is too much hard surface; too few trees. There’s too much noise; too little to do.

“If you leave public spaces barren you get this blight,” Wood said. “You create a draw for all sorts of undesirable activity.”

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Jane’s Walk – May 2-4, 2014

janes-walk-thumbOn May 2–4, Providence will participate in its second annual Jane’s Walk!

Jane’s Walk celebrates the ideas and legacy of urbanist Jane Jacobs by getting people out exploring their neighbourhoods through free walking tours, led by locals. By walking together, communities engage in civic dialogue about what matters most in the places they live and work.

Last year, more than 800 walks were held in over 100 cities in 22 countries worldwide, including eight walks in neighborhoods around Providence, from downtown to the Jewelry District, Olneyville to Elmwood, College Hill to Smith Hill.

Anyone can lead a walk about almost any topic—all you need is a story, an interesting way of seeing the city, or hopes and concerns for your neighborhood. Just go to Janeswalk.org and click the “Create a Walk” button to get started.

I will be assisting with a walk on Saturday the 3rd. Do people live downtown? Yes. The walk leader is Steve Durkee, we will be meeting at noon at the Johnson & Wales Starbucks at the corner of Chestnut and Pine Streets. The walk will end at Grant’s Block where the Cinco de Mayo Block Party will be underway.
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City Plan Commission Meeting – March 18, 2014

featured-bikeped City Plan Commission Meeting
Tuesday, March 18, 2014 – 4:45pm
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from the February 25th meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

City Council Referral

1. Referral 3374 – Petition to abandon a portion of Eddy Street – The applicant is requesting to abandon a portion of Eddy Street – for action (Downtown)

Institutional Master Plan

2. Amendment of RISD’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP) – The applicant is seeking to amend their IMP to reflect the acquisition or lease of the building at 189 Canal Street for office, studios or classrooms. The amendment will also provide information on parking and progress of construction projects – for action

Major Land Development Project

3. Case No. 14-003MA – 35 Holden Street – The applicant is proposing to construct a one story parking deck in the D-2 zone measuring approximately 27,552 SF over an existing parking area. A total of 176 parking spaces will be provided – for action (AP 4 Lot 255, Smith Hill)

Re:Zoning Providence

4. Update on Re: Zoning Providence – Presentation detailing the organization of the zoning ordinance and the content of articles one through five
– for discussion

Adjournment


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City announces transfer of ownership, redevelopment of the ‘Narrow Building’

narrow-building

I almost made this a What Cheer for 2013, but it all didn’t quite come together before the end of the year. If the renovations go forward as planned, expect to see a What Cheer for this project in 2014.


From the City:

Providence Transfers Ownership of Historic Arnold Building for Redevelopment

Top 5 Priority of Mayor Taveras’ Economic Development Action Plan; Mayor applauds action to redevelop key downtown property.

The Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA) has transferred ownership of the historic and vacant George C. Arnold Building at 94-100 Washington Street and the City is providing $220,000 in federal block grant funding to help jumpstart the building’s redevelopment.

Mayor Angel Taveras praised the transfer of the building to a public-private entity for redevelopment. Removing barriers to redevelopment is a top goal of Mayor Taveras’ 20-point economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work.

“This is a new beginning for downtown Providence’s historic Arnold Building,” Mayor Taveras said. “The collaboration of the PRA, Providence Revolving Fund, Providence Historic District Commission and the owners demonstrates what we can accomplish when we work together to revitalize historic buildings and grow our economy.”

The project is to be developed by 100 Washington Street LLC. Developers Dave Stem and Lori Quinn and the Providence Revolving Fund are partners in the project. The developers plan to restore the historic structure and construct three residential apartments and two ground-floor commercial spaces, eliminating a long-standing blight in the heart of the city’s business district.

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→ ProJo: Commission meets to discuss possible Garrahy Complex parking garage

A legislative commission began looking Wednesday into whether building a parking garage adjacent to the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street would be a useful public project.

Garages are easy to build, going up Erector set fashion in months, but expensive — from $30,000 to $35,000 per space, he noted.

“They don’t support themselves out of the gate,” [I-195 Redevelopment District Commission chairman Colin] Kane said.

So it sounds like Kane is setting up the expectation that the public will have to subsidize this parking. GrowSmartRI tweeted:


…indeed.

Update: GrowSmartRI updated their status to indicate that Mr. Kane let them know that he “discussed the importance of transit, walking, and zipcars as part of the transportation equation.” We see the fact remaining that an entire Commission was created to ‘discuss’ parking at one specific location. A Commission where other transportation options may be mentioned, but are hardly the focus. Parking should be being discussed as a part of a transportation system. Parking should not be the focus where every other form of transportation is treated as, ‘oh, sure, that’s important too.’

Previously: State to study Garrahy Courthouse Garage. Again.

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State to study Garrahy Courthouse Garage. Again.

garrahy-courthouse

Image from Google Maps

Ian Donnis tweeted out a link to the legislation authorizing a new Downtown Garage Commission:


Back in 2005 there was a $20 million proposal to build a garage on this site. Ian Donnis wrote about a similar plan languishing back in 2008 when he was at the Providence Phoenix. And in 2009, then Mayor Cicilline put $47 million in his stimulus wish list for the garage.

The desire for a garage at this site goes back way further than that even. The Providence 1970 plan, written in the early 60′s basically called for Downtown to be ringed with garages just off the highways, then an elevated people mover system would move people around town from the garages. Though the interstate highway that originally prompted this as a location is gone, and an elevated people mover in Providence is a non-starter, the Garrahy Courthouse as a parking garage location lives on.

Continue Reading →

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News & Notes

new-york-wetlands

Wetlands to provide a storm surge buffer for New York City. Image from Architecture Research Office

→ Fast Company: A Plan To Hurricane-Proof New York, With A Ring Of Wetlands

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, there have been a flurry of ideas on how to deal with the prospect that storms of such magnitude may no longer be once-in-a-lifetime events but the most visible manifestation–if you’re not a polar bear–of the havoc wreaked by climate change.

Seawalls. Levees. The kinds of things the Army Corps of Engineers typically builds to protect low-lying places like New Orleans just aren’t feasible for a place like Manhattan, says Stephen Cassell, the cofounder of New York’s Architectural Research Office. “It’s hard to predict how bad climate change will be,” Cassell says, noting that Sandy’s devastating surge was nearly 14 feet, which wasn’t even the worst-case scenario. “What if we build a barrier and the surge goes beyond that?”

Yes Providence, what if the storm surge is higher than our storm surge barrier?


→ New York Post: Growing NY through smarter taxes

How might two-tiered taxation work? In New York, land and improvements in residential areas are subject to an 18.6 percent property tax.Thus, land with a taxable value of $10,000 would be taxed $1,860, and improvements with a similar taxable value of $10,000 would owe another $1,860, a total of $3,720. Under a two-tier system, the tax rate for land could jump by, say, 50 percent, while the rate for improvement could be halved.In that case, the owner would pay $2,790 in land taxes and $930 for improvements — keeping the total to $3,720.

But here’s the payoff: The owner’s tax bill under that scheme would climb another $2,790 if he purchased a second lot with a taxable value of $10,000 — but by only $930 if he used that money toward building.Thus, hoarding would be discouraged; development encouraged.

The two-tier property tax has a proven record of success. In 1979, Pittsburgh began taxing land at a rate six times higher than improvements. In the ensuing decade, building permits increased by 70.4 percent.

Via: Nesi’s Notes


Continue Reading →

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Updated: City Plan Commission Meeting – October 16, 2012

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – 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 September 18th, 2012 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Major Subdivision

1. Case No. 10-011MA – Preliminary Plan Approval for Subdivision of land from the relocation of Interstate 195 – PUBLIC HEARING The public hearing will provide information to the public and receive public comment as part of the Commission’s review of a proposed major subdivision. This proposal consists of subdividing land within the State’s right-of-way along the Interstate 195 corridor where the highway was removed. The corridor extends from Interstate 95 northeast north of Clifford Street, then continuing east, crossing Chestnut, Richmond and Dyer Streets, to the west bank of the Providence River. The land also extends from the east bank of the Providence River at James Street,

City Council Referral

2. City Council Referral 3357 – Petition for zone change from C-2 to M-1 at 103 Dike Street Petition to rezone the property at 103 Dike Street from C-2 to M-1 – for action (Olneyville, AP 105 Lot 489)

3. City Council Referral 3358 – Petition to extend the I-3 overlay district Petition to extend the I-3 overlay district to include 1 Cookson Place/33 Broad Street – for action (Downtown, AP 24 Lot 626)

City of Providence Zoning Ordinance

Minor Subdivision

4. Case No. 12-045MI – 475 Valley Street The applicant is seeking preliminary plan approval to divide the existing lot into three lots – for action (Valley, AP 27 Lot 263)

Adjournment


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City Plan Commission Meeting, August 21

Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, August 21, 2012 – 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 July 17th 2012 meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Major Land Development Project

1. Case No. 12-027MI – 66 Huber Avenue The applicant will be presenting a community outreach plan for the subject development – for discussion (Manton, AP 80 Lot 894)

Institutional Master Plan

2. Johnson and Wales University Master Plan Amendment The applicant is seeking an amendment to the current Master Plan for creation of a new academic program in an existing building – for action (Downtown)

Major Land Development Project – Public Hearing

3. Case No. 12-032MA – Creation of expansion parking area (Master/Preliminary Plan reiew) The applicant is seeking to increase the capacity of an existing parking lot from 36 to 96 spaces to accommodate the growth of a business on a proximate lot. The applicant is requesting to combine master and preliminary stages of review – for action (Olneyville, AP 33 (.pdf) Lots 322, 345, 350, 351, 395, 624, 654, 656)

Adjournment

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