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→ ProJo: Reviving Olneyville: Providence plan seeks overhaul of public housing

atlantic-furniture

A strategy is being developed to give the low-income [Manton Heights housing] development an overhaul and link it to the rest of Olneyville — one of Providence’s poorest neighborhoods, but a community improving with a helping hand from residents, the city, business owners and nonprofit groups.

Called Build Olneyville, the ambitious plan calls for replacing the development’s buildings with contemporary housing and reconfiguring the layout so there are through streets and mixed-income families living side by side. They also want to double Manton Heights, create jobs and add community amenities for the whole neighborhood, including a new early learning center.

The goal is to inject Olneyville with $100 million — up to $30 million from a federal grant and the rest in public-private partnerships.

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News & Notes

Electric car charging.

Electric car charging station in St. Petersburg, FL. Photo (cc) CityofStPete

→ Grist: States promise to sell one new EV for every 24 people by 2025

They’re starting to step up. Eight states that represent, according to the New York Times, “a quarter of the national car market” just announced they’re going to work together on creating a better system for drivers of electric vehicles. They are, in descending order of population size, California, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Oregon, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and they say their goal is to help get 3.3 million new EVs sold by 2025. With a combined population of 79 million people, that means one EV for every 24 people.

How are they going to do it? By creating a system that will give EV owners something only gas-guzzling car drivers have now: certainty about where and when and how they’ll be able to fuel up.

I’m all for things that help improve the environment, but I’ve got to say, I’m a little sad that the environmental press is not being more thoughtful on this story. Reduced carbon emissions are wonderful, but it is not simply the carbon which is problematic, it is safety (for people inside and outside of cars) land-use, household budgets, and more. These are among the things states are supposed to do to encourage electric cars:

  • More charging stations
  • Building codes that require chargers at workplaces and “multifamily residences”
  • Reduced tolls
  • Better parking
  • Cheaper electricity prices

These are all things that encourage more driving; encouraging sprawl, paving land, putting pedestrians and cyclists in conflict with auto-traffic (I don’t think you’re any less dead after getting run over by an electric vehicle than you are getting run over by a gas powered one), and leaving individuals and families tied to the expense of a car (granted, made less so by reducing the costs of powering the vehicle).

Rhode Island seems quite proud of itself for being part of this group of states, but Rhode Island continues to poorly support alternatives to automobile use, namely mass transit and cycling infrastructure.

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News & Notes

Bixi

Montreal’s bike share system, Bixi. Photo (cc) arcsi

→ CBC: Bixi to continue despite financial problems

A member of Montreal’s city executive committee says he cannot guarantee the municipal administration will put more money into Bixi if it requires financial assistance.

The bike-sharing program has struggled to make ends meet since it first hit Montreal streets in 2008.

Jean-François Lisée, the provincial minister responsible for Montreal, said Bixi was a valuable service and deserved to be helped out. He said the Quebec government is working on a $5-million bridge loan for the program.

See also: → The Atlantic Cities: In Paris, Thefts and Vandalism Could Force Bike-Share to Shrink


→ The Walking Bostonian: Car-free housing in Boston is natural

I feel strange explaining the concept of a market to someone as old as Tom Keane. The idea that residents could rent or purchase a parking space in a nearby garage should not be that difficult to grasp, and it’s not much different from the many other transactions which take place between residents and local businesses. For example, most apartment buildings are not constructed with grocery store requirements. However, most people seem to understand that when a resident wants a bottle of milk, they can walk down to a nearby store and buy one. We do not need to build “minimum grocery store requirements” into the zoning code because those products are handled perfectly well by normally operating markets. And parking spaces are no different. They are just one type of land use, among many, that can be purchased or leased on the real estate market.

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Downtown Providence Living Tour – September 21, 2013

Downtown Providence Living Tour Showcases 9 Properties in the Heart of the City

Offering an Up Close and Exclusive Look at the City’s Newest Developments, including the Arcade Providence and Providence G

DLT-Postcard-Front_WebGet the inside view on downtown living! On Saturday, September 21st from 11 AM to 5 PM, The Providence Foundation and Downtown Providence Improvement District will host a Downtown Providence Living Tour showcasing downtown’s transformation into a desirable mixed-use district. Ranked by the real estate website Walk Score® as the most walkable neighborhood in the city and described as a “Walker’s Paradise,” downtown Providence offers residents access to restaurants, shops, cultural offerings, transportation options, and other amenities within a few blocks. The tour will feature nine properties in the downtown core, including The 903, Arcade Providence, Avalon at Center Place, The Promenade, Providence G, Regency Plaza, The Residences, Waterplace, and Westminster Lofts. The tour is self-guided, and people are encouraged to walk or bike from place to place, although shuttle service will also be provided.

Tour organizer Joelle Kanter, program manager for The Providence Foundation, says, “Whether people are considering a move into downtown Providence, or they simply want to preview city’s latest developments, we invite everyone to see how the neighborhood has noticeably evolved since our last tour in 2010.” In 2011 and 2012, 35 new retail businesses opened downtown, and this year, 10 have already opened. The quality and breadth of offerings are steadily improving, with new additions including popular eateries such as birch, Figidini, and UMelt.

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News & Notes

Transportation Act Projects announcement

Governor O’Malley and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown announces improvement to Marc train Red Line by Brian K. Slack at Baltimore, MD. Photo (cc) Maryland Gov Pics.

→ The Baltimore Sun: O’Malley to announce $1.5 billion for Baltimore-area transportation projects

Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to announce $1.5 billion in new state funding for the Baltimore Red Line and more than a dozen other transportation projects in the area Wednesday, officials said, outlining for the first time how the state’s gas tax increase will be tapped to improve local infrastructure and mass transit here.

O’Malley also plans to discuss the state’s interest in attracting public-private partnerships to help fund the Red Line project, and a Dec. 7 start date for weekend MARC train service between Baltimore and Washington, which has never been offered before.

[Baltmore Mayor Stephanie] Rawlings-Blake said the new funding “says that the state is serious about being a partner with Baltimore” to improve connections between transportation options.

“They’re putting their money where their mouth is,” she said. “They’re recognizing that for the state to be strong, Baltimore has to be strong, and it has to be strong as a connected city.”


→ The Boston Globe: Menino pushes plan to boost housing

Mayor Thomas M. Menino is proposing to reach his ambitious goal of building 30,000 homes in Boston by allowing taller structures with smaller units, selling public land to developers at a discount, and using subsidies to spur development of more affordable housing, according to a blueprint to be released Monday.

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PBN: City again tackles rezoning

Providence will try again this year to drag its zoning code into the 21st century.

Like many other communities across the country, Rhode Island’s capital hopes to remove barriers to urban growth within its 1950s-era, land-use regulations and this month begins a citywide public process to rewrite them.

The last time Providence tried a comprehensive zoning rewrite, in the midst of a building boom in 2005, the effort met community resistance and was drastically scaled back.

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