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ProJo: 195 Commission agrees to deal on $50-million, 500-bed student housing development

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Image from 195 District Parcel 28 – Google Streetview

The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission voted behind closed doors Monday to sign a purchase and sale agreement with a Texas development firm that specializes in privatized student housing to build a $50-million, six-story housing development that will accommodate 500 renters on the west side of the Providence River.

Kane said the commission authorized him to sign the purchase and sale agreement, which will be a binding document requiring the firm to break ground by August 2015. Brodie said the firm expects to open its doors Sept. 1, 2017, ready for people to move into its rental units.


First, yes, it is going to be great to get something built on the 195 Land, and work is projected to begin next summer. With 20,000 square feet of retail space, this project should be able to provide some badly needed retail services to the Jewelry District neighborhood. And having 500 units of housing dropped from the sky has the potential to really have a positive impact on the neighborhood.

However, as the commenters at ProJo said, this deal literally took place behind closed doors. However, people involved in development and real estate all seemed to know this deal was coming, it was just the general public that may be surprised to hear about this this morning. So, if the people most involved in the process, pretty much know what is going on through industry chatter, where’s the need for the secrecy? I know there is a degree of discretion needed to complete a real estate deal, but the Commission really needs to do something about the perception that these Executive Sessions send to the public.

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ProJo: Symposium offers wish list of ideas to spur development of Route 195 land

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Photo from RIDOT

Jan A. Brodie expects there’ll be a groundbreaking in 2015 on the vacant former highway land in the heart of the capital city, but she unveiled a holiday wish list Friday afternoon for what she thinks would push forward pending development projects.

Brodie, executive director of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, would like no sales tax and no corporate taxes for projects built on the nearly 19 acres available for development after the state’s highway-relocation project. She’d like an “institutionalized, predictable” tax-stabilization agreement for city property taxes that would last at least 15 years, she told about 60 people gathered for the final session of the Providence Preservation Society’s year-long symposium, “Building the New Urban Experience.”

No one on the panel supported Chapel View as a vision for what should be done on the 195 land. Thank goodness.

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Sim City writ large on the Providence Waterfront

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Screenshot from YouTube.

Today’s Providence Business News reports on the divergent visions of the Providence Mayoral Candidates for the Providence Waterfront.

As with many issues, Elorza wants to continue the Taveras position on Allens Avenue, which is to reserve the land there, through zoning restrictions, for industrial use only. Supported by the City Council under President Michael Solomon and existing Allens Avenue landowners, that position was a change from Cianci’s late 1990s plans and those of his successor, David N. Cicilline.

Elorza does want to increase exports from the working waterfront, through market studies and trade missions, activities normally handled by state economic-development officials.

Not to be overlooked, the people who currently own the land along the Allens Avenue waterfront support this direction.

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – October 8, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2014, beginning at 4 P.M., for the following purposes

I. Public Session

Call to Order: The Chairperson

  1. Welcome by Chairperson: Chairperson Colin Kane.
  2. Approval by the Members of the Parks Design Subcommittee of the Minutes of the Parks Design Subcommittee Meeting held on September 12, 2014.
  3. Approval by the Members of the Legal Issues Subcommittee of the Minutes of the Legal Issues Subcommittee Public Meeting held on September 24, 2014.
  4. II. Executive Session

    To consider and act upon such matters as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law), specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (5) (acquisition and disposition of public property).

  5. Approval by the Members of the Legal Issues Subcommittee of the Minutes of the Legal Issues Subcommittee Executive Session Meeting held on September 24, 2014.
  6. Update from the Legal Issues Subcommittee of Status of Proposals to Purchase and Develop District Property.
  7. III. Public Session

  8. Vote to Adjourn.

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – September 15, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on MONDAY, September 15, 2014, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes

I. Public Session

  1. Welcome by Chairperson: Chairperson Colin Kane.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meetings Held on August 18, 2014.
  3. Executive Director’s Report – Review of Activities During Past Month and Business Plan for the Period September – December 2014.
  4. Presentation of District Audit by LGCD, District Auditor, and Vote Regarding Acceptance of Audit.
  5. Update from Jones Lang LaSalle on Market Conditions and Strategies for October 15, 2014 RFI Submission Date.
  6. Update from DOT Director Lewis on Work Progress on I-195 Surplus Land.
  7. Discussion and Review of Draft Parks Maintenance and Management Budget.
  8. Discussion and Vote on Allocation of Funds from the EPA Grant to the District.
  9. Update from Counsel Regarding District Permitting Process and Legal Issues Subcommittee.
  10. II. Executive Session

    To consider and act upon such matters as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law), specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (5) (acquisition and disposition of public property).

  11. Review of Status of Proposals to Purchase and Develop District Property.
  12. III. Public Session

  13. Chairman’s Report – Review of Activities in Past Month and Proposed Future Activities/ Tentative Agenda for October 20, 2014 Meeting.
  14. Vote to Adjourn.

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

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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.

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ProJo: Hotel among three projects rejected by Route 195 land commission

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The developer preparing to renovate the old South Street Power Station near Davol Square into nursing schools, university offices and apartments proposed buying a nearby parcel of former Route 195 land for as much as $2.25 million to build a 150-room hotel, potentially a Starwood Hotels property.

But the bid by CV Properties, which has offices in Southport, Conn., and Boston, is among three proposals rejected by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, which released the proposals to The Providence Journal in response to a request for records.

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ProJo: R.I. convention authority to fund parking garage construction behind Garrahy courthouse

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The R.I. Convention Center Authority said Tuesday it will put up the $43 million needed to build a parking garage adjacent to the Garrahy Judicial Complex on Dorrance Street in downtown Providence.

“The transformation of the current surface parking lot represents a unique opportunity to addres current parking capacity deficiencies and provide a mechanism to promote economic development,” said James Bennett, the convention center authority’s chairman.

Bennett also serves as economic development chief for the City of Providence.


No word on a possible RIPTA hub in the article.

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GC: Photos

Flickr totally changed the sharing function on their website, and frankly it sucks and causes me to have to rewrite a bunch of code to properly share people’s photos, and a bunch of great photographers who share in our group have changed their share settings; so I haven’t done a GC: Photos post in quite a while. But there’s some really great stuff in there, so I suffered through it. Some of these photos go back a while, hence the snow:

Photo © Donna St.Pierre

Photo © Anthony Nathan Photography

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – July 9, 2014

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 2014, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes

Public Session

Call to Order

  1. Pavilion: Discussion and Recommendations for Program of Uses for the built structure in the West Side Park and Proposed Design of the structure.
  2. East Side Park: Discussion and Recommendations for Interactive Features and Overall Proposed Design.
  3. West Park and Pedestrian Bridge: Discussion and Recommendations for Design Plans.
  4. Water Feature: West Side Park water feature options for Ship Street Triangle.
  5. Historic Markers: Discussion and Recommendations for design of inset Historic Markers at key locations in the District.
  6. Vote to Adjourn.

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ProJo: Route 195 panel seeks more park designs for former highway land in Providence

West Side Park Pavillion

Landscape architects and designers offered plenty of images to the Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission Monday night of what the public parks on the now-vacant former highway land might become, noting at times that they’ve made some changes over the last 8-1/2 months to reduce the cost to build the parks.

But as the commissioners viewed designs, they pushed back, saying they’d like to see other proposals before plans are finalized and questioned whether designers might develop other possibilities for a proposed pavilion. Commissioners debated whether designs should include public restrooms.

[Commissioner Mark T.] Ryan stressed it would be foolish to do more design work if the commission doesn’t like that design.

“I don’t like it,” commissioner John M. Kelly said.

“I think it’s beautiful,” commissioner Barbara A. Hunger said.

“I think the architect should come up with some options,” Ryan said.

What exactly are the 195 Commissioners’ (or RIDOT’s for that matter) qualifications for designing parks?

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195 Redevelopment District Commission Meeting – June 30, 2014

West Side Park Pavilion

Conceptual design of pavilion on West Side park.

featured-195commission A meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Providence, Rhode Island, on MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2014, beginning at 5 P.M., for the following purposes

I. Public Session

Call to Order: The Chairperson

  1. Welcome by Chairperson: Chairperson Colin Kane.
  2. Executive Director’s Report – Review of Activities in Past Two Weeks and Proposed Future Activities.
  3. Presentation by CDR Maguire of West Side Park, East Side Park and Pedestrian Bridge Design Plans and Discussion.
  4. Discussion of Latest Interim Use Submissions for District Property and Vote to Select Interim Installations.
  5. Discussion of Pending Liquor License Applications for New Nightclubs Near District Property and Vote Regarding Position of District with Respect to Those Applications.
  6. II. Executive Session

    To consider and act upon such matters as may be considered at a meeting closed to the public pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws, Section 42-46-5(a) (the Open Meetings Law), specifically matters permitted to be so considered under subsection (5) (acquisition and disposition of public property).

  7. Discussion and Review of Proposals to Purchase and Develop District Property.
  8. III. Public Session

  9. Chairman’s Report – Review of Activities in Past Two Weeks and Proposed Future Activities/ Tentative Agenda for July 21, 2014 Meeting.
  10. Vote to Adjourn.

195 Parks

West Side Park Design
East Side Park Design

Find further items related to this meeting and minutes of past meetings on the 195 District website.

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PBN: Garrahy parking garage seen as lure for development

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Image from Bing Maps

Contrary to conventional wisdom, things may be looking up for the future of Providence’s former Interstate 195 lands.

At least five organizations have confirmed making formal bids to build on the 19 developable acres freed by the removal of the highway.

One of them, a plan by Ocean State Angels and Cambridge Biolabs to build a life science accelerator at the corner of Richmond and Clifford Streets, is just the kind of “Knowledge District” concept envisioned by state leaders when they created the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission in 2012.

And perhaps even more favorable for commissioners, the General Assembly last week approved the construction of a $45 million, seven-level parking garage explicitly intended to boost interest in the land.

It would be enlightening to know what if anything those five bidders have said about parking. But since those discussions are held in closed door Executive Session meetings not open to the public, I guess we’ll never know.

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

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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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RIPTA: Downtown Transit 2.0

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As RIPTA prepares to introduce its new R-Line rapid bus service next month, and reroute some buses in September based on the recent Comprehensive Operational Analysis, the agency is also planning for how to operate in Downtown Providence in the future.

Ideas for the future include physical improvements to Kennedy Plaza and the creation of two new bus hubs, one at Providence Train Station, the other behind the Garrahy Courthouse off Dorrance Street.

Information from RIPTA on the recent studies they have undertaken:


RIPTA has commissioned several recent studies to seek ways to improve the transit experience for Rhode Islanders. Rising ridership and the need to provide service that best meets demand in our state has driven recent evaluations of RIPTA’s operations, including the Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA). As almost all RIPTA routes access Kennedy Plaza, it is expected that operations at this location would be more closely studied. RIPTA, in partnership with the RI Department of Transportation and RI Statewide Planning, is conducting a downtown transit improvement study, Downtown Transit 2.0, to evaluate whether the introduction of additional downtown Providence transit stations could improve service for existing riders, enhance downtown accessibility and mobility, and resolve operational and passenger experience issues at Kennedy Plaza.

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Providence Streetcar to apply for TIGER VI grant funding

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The Obama administration announced a new round of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants (known as TIGER VI) with an extremely short turn-around for submitting applications, they are due April 28th.

The City of Providence applied for a TIGER grant last year, RIDOT also submitted a bid for Apponaug which was supported by the Governor. The Apponaug project was awarded a TIGER grant, and while there isn’t direct competition built into the grant process per-say, it is thought that Providence’s streetcar bid lost out to Kansas City’s streetcar which had more secure funding in place at the time. Providence’s 2013 TIGER grant application included a funding plan, but unlike Kansas City’s successful application, steps had not yet been taken to implement that funding.

Capital costs for the project (costs incurred to build it) are estimated to be $117.8 million (2016 dollars). Funding will come from City TIF Bonds, Federal funds, Rhode Island Capital Plan funds, RIPTA CMAQ funds, and a RIDOT land transfer.

In the next month, Providence plans to work further toward implementation of funding by working with the Providence City Council Ordinance Committee to approve a TIF plan for the streetcar district. This funding represents 50% of the projected cost of the project and will be one of the sources for operations revenue after the project is complete.

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