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Tag Archives | Federal Hill

Fire at Grove Street School

UPDATE 07/18: Sources state that the City has required the building’s owner, Michael Tarro “secure” the building within 7 days.
UPDATE 07/18: The Providence Journal: Arson unit investigating blaze at old school
UPDATE 07/17: The following photos were forwarded to me by the WBNA

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From the Providence Journal:

July 17, 2007
Update: Fire at former Grove St. School under control

PROVIDENCE – A late-morning fire has been brought under control at the two-story brick building that is the former Grove Street School.

City firefighters responded at 11:42 a.m. to 113 Grove St., according to James Taylor, chief of communications for the Fire Department. The fire, which was in the basement and first floor, was under control at 12:32 p.m.

Preliminary indications were the fire may have started in the basement. The building inspector is headed to the location.

The former school has been the subject of debate over whether to tear it down.

The former school was damaged when a demolition contractor began ripping it apart without a building permit on Feb. 3. The demolition was partially complete when residents told police and city officials, and the work was stopped.

In May, a trial pitting the city against the family, which now owns the building and began to tear it down, was postponed, after a defendant in the case died.

– projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal photographer Mary Murphy

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Bradford Street safe, for now.

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Image from Google Maps

Tonight the Providence City Council did the right thing and voted to send the resolution to abandon a portion of Bradford Street back to committee, meaning it will return to the Planning Department and City Plan Commission for review, as it should have all along. Earlier in the evening, the Public Works Committee of the City Council did not have a quorum to hear a resolution to transfer the air rights over part of Federal Street to a developer to build a condo tower at this location. We have been assured that the entire issue will be sent back to Planning and CPC to be presented to the public as one proposal.

Thanks to everyone who wrote letter, sent email, made calls, and otherwise made their Councilors aware of the fact that the process that was unfolding here was wrong. Special thanks to Aaron Masri for digging through various ordinances and charters to find the exact line sections and paragraphs that were being flaunted. Also to David Rocha for pounding the pavement yesterday in the rain during Liberty Fest to talk to people about the issue and urge them to contact their Councilors.

Of course all this does not mean that the street is now guaranteed not to close. But all indications are that the Planning Department and the CPC will require significant changes to this proposal, and most likely will not be in favor of abandoning Bradford Street. A friendly letter to Planning and the CPC wouldn’t hurt however. We will post the date of the CPC meeting this will be heard at as soon as it is announced.

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In the News: Bradford Street

Providence Business News: Luxury condo tower plans draw ire

The Providence City Council is scheduled to vote July 5 on a street abandonment that would make way for a luxury, high-security condominium tower rising above Interstate 95 at the entrance to Federal Hill.

Vista Della Torre is an $80 million, 33-story project at the intersection of Bradford and Federal streets proposed by Frank and Michael Zammiello, a local father-and-son development team.

Continue Reading →

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Does the Providence Comprehensive Plan allow for the abandonment of Bradford Street?

Recapping the preceding sequence of events, on June 19th, City Plan Commission reviewed a request, referred to it by Providence City Council, to abandon a portion of Bradford Street. The developer of a 180 unit residential high-rise, which includes a 275 space parking garage, claims that this street abandonment is necessary to accommodate the proposed site plan. The City Plan Commission voted to continue the request, meaning their review has not been completed. Later that evening, the Public Works Committee of Providence City Council voted to approve the abandonment. Greater City Providence opposes the abandonment of Bradford Street (see Don’t abandon Bradford Street).

Looking ahead, on Thursday, July 5th, the Providence City Council will vote on the resolution to abandon a portion of Bradford Street. However, section 1014 (d) of the City of Providence’s Home Rule Charter indicates that council’s vote may not be pursuant to its provisions (paragraphs 1 & 3 which pertain to this project are referenced below). To paraphrase the charter, section 1014 (d) states that a project such as the abandonment of Bradford Street cannot proceed unless it complies with Providence’s Comprehensive Plan. Also, any project which requires city council approval, such as Bradford Street’s abandonment, must be submitted to the Director of the Providence Department of Planning & Development to determine if it complies with the Comprehensive Plan. Any appeals from the director’s decision would then be heard in front of the City Plan Commission.

The importance of citing the above paragraph cannot be understated enough. The review process for abandoning Bradford Street has not complied with section 1014 (d) of City of Providence’s Home Rule Charter. Providence’s Planning Department and City Plan Commission has not been given a chance to verify this project’s compliance with Providence’s Comprehensive Plan as is stated in the charter. Therefore, in order to ensure that the public’s interest is being represented and the merits of this project are adequately reviewed, please contact the Providence City Council. Insist that no vote be held until it can be determined by the Planning Department that the abandonment of Bradford Street complies with Providence’s Comprehensive Plan.

Please note that the July 5th City Council Meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:00PM at City Hall. The public will not be allowed to speak at this meeting. Ask that your written correspondence be read into the public record if you want to be heard.

From City of Providence Home Rule Charter of 1980, as amended:

Section 1014 (d): The effect of the comprehensive plan.

Paragraph 1: No public or private improvement or project or subdivision or zoning ordinance shall be initiated or adopted unless it conforms to and implements the comprehensive plan and elements thereof.

Paragraph 3: All development and project plans and proposals and all privately developed projects and developments which require approval by the city council or by other city boards, commissions or committees shall be submitted by the appropriate aforementioned public agency to the director of the department of planning and urban development for determination as to compliance with the comprehensive plan and its elements. All appeals from the director’s decisions shall be submitted to the city plan commission for a determination as to compliance with the comprehensive plan.

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Don’t abandon Bradford Street

Last October, hundreds of Providence residents, as well as city employees and elected officials, participated in the week-long kickoff of Providence Tomorrow, a neighborhood planning and growth process that showed that regardless of neighborhood, income or race, Providence residents support the move into the 21st century by making Providence a more urban, more walkable, transit-oriented city, while upgrading the quality of life in the neighborhoods and preserving what is special about their communities. Over five hundred comments have been made on the Planning Department’s website regarding the Comprehensive Plan, and public hearings on the subject have been well attended. Providence is poised to continue its evolution as a renaissance city, and Providence residents, businesses, and employees are interested and excited about being a part of shaping the vision of Providence’s future.

However, last week, something happened to derail Providence’s diligence and served to remind us all of why we want change in the city. While the City Planning Commission (CPC) voted to continue a request to abandon a portion of Bradford Street, a viable city street, for a large scale building project dubbed Vista Della Torre, just an hour later, in a move that may prove to be legally questionable, the City Council Ordinance Committee voted to approve the abandonment without the necessary recommendation from the CPC.

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Proposed site plan for Vista Della Torre

Greater City Providence opposes the abandonment of any portion of Bradford Street. Bradford Street serves as a vital north-south connector in a neighborhood with high traffic and few north-south arteries. Bradford provides a connection from Downtown via West Exchange Street to Atwells Avenue and Broadway. The street is also one with great potential for dense development in this area so close to Downtown. Closing the street provides roadblocks to future development along the street. The traffic plan proposed by Garofalo & Associates for the Vista Della Torre on Federal Street does not serve the residents of the neighborhood or the city at large.

The abandonment of Bradford Street and making Federal Street one way will displace traffic to other areas such as Dean Street, which already sees a very high level of traffic and presents a hazard to pedestrians in the area, and will most likely negatively affect businesses at the end of Broadway. Federal Hill has already lost several streets (and housing stock) to abandonments which never served the public, but instead are used for parking. These issues and others need to be addressed before permission is given to abandon a public street.

While Greater City Providence does not reject the concept of a tall, important gateway building project for this location outright, a lot of unanswered questions remain, and the current design of the building and the site plan is unacceptable. If street abandonments at the City Plan Commission or City Council level are the only public input for a project of this size, then it behooves us to fight that battle where we can. One of the unfortunate lessons of the past has been that you cannot “unring the bell” – street abandonments cannot be taken back when the developer’s project falls through or changes drastically. Providence has seen entirely too many of these projects fast-tracked with little or no public comment; the details of which are often worked out on the sly, benefiting not Providence as a whole, but merely a few individuals whose commitment to the City’s vision and quality of life may be suspect at best.

Greater City Providence promotes the growth and development of the Greater Providence region in as urban a pattern as possible. Special emphasis is placed on the development of more walkable, affordable, and vibrant neighborhoods that are served by more robust mass transit and fueled by greater economic opportunity. Our primary focus is participating in the zoning and planning process to ensure that the Providence of the future is an urban environment and not a city plagued by inconsistent, uninspired, automobile-centric, and suburban-style development.

We encourage you to contact your elected officials to voice your opinion about this project and specifically the abandonment of Bradford Street, which may be voted on by the full City Council as soon as next week. Please contact your City Council person, and Ward 13 Councilman John Lombardi about the street abandonment. Please contact the Mayor to ask why this project is moving through the approval process so fast, with so little chance for public input, and without the proper approvals by the proper agencies in the proper order.

Mayor David Cicilline: (401) 421-2489
Councilman John Lombardi (Ward 13, Federal Hill): (401) 453-3900
City Council members: (401) 421-7740 (ask for City Council office)
Department of Planning & Development: (401) 351-4300
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Next GC: Exchange – Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2007-0410_gcexchange-webThe next Greater City: Exchange will be Tuesday, April 10th starting at 5:30pm at MoJoe’s Bar & Grill, 166 Broadway at Dean Street on Federal Hill.

Please join us for open discussion about the city. Our special guests will be members of the West Broadway Neighborhood Association speaking about their group, the work they do, and the challenges they face. This is a great opportunity to come out and hear about the WBNAs work and to exchange ideas.

The May GC: Exchange will be held on Tuesday, May 8th, where we plan to have Garry Bliss make a presentation on the Transit 2020 Initiative.

The June GC: Exchange will be held on Tuesday, June 12th, where we plan to have members of Greater Elmwood Neighborhood Services discuss their organization and the work that they do.

For exact times and locations of upcoming GC: Exchanges please visit our website or sign up for our Newsletter.

UPDATE: Representatives from the Mayor’s Office will be joining us at the April 10th GC: Exchange to discuss the Mayor’s Graffiti Taskforce. Come find out how the Taskforce has been progressing, the successes, the challenges, and how members of the community can get involved.
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