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ProJo: Bustling recreational destination planned for vacant Shooters site in Providence

Former “Shooters” Building in 2010

Seven years after Rhode Island voters approved buying the former Shooters nightclub site on the Providence waterfront to turn it into a recreational destination, plans to redevelop the vacant lot may finally be inching forward.

The state Department of Environmental Management wants to build a fishing pier, transient boating marina and ferry dock at the site, which the agency purchased for $3.2 million with the proceeds of a 2010 state bond.

The details and budget for these shoreline projects are still being worked out, but DEM Director Janet Coit said Thursday that preliminary plans show a 200-plus-foot, L-shaped fishing pier that could accommodate the Providence-Newport ferry, boat slips and dinghy storage.

Advocates for developing the site hope that finishing plans for the marina will allow action to kick into gear on the long-languishing 1.4-acre land side of the property.

David Dadekian, founder of Eat Drink Rhode Island, hopes to build a public food market on the site, but has so far made only minimal progress and said he needs the state to finish its plans for the entire property before he can seek financing.

This has great potential to be a wonderful attraction for residents and visitors alike. Our options to enjoy the waterfront are sadly limited, and active uses of the waterfront are needed. As lovely as India Point Park is, people want things to do, like eating and drinking.

To truly succeed, the City and State have to commit to maintaing the waterfront. The walk under the highway is a trash strewn and weed overgrown shamehole that no one wants to visit, that needs to change. Also, the Wickenden/Point, South Main, South Water interchange was poorly designed and throws up another barrier to pedestrians and cyclists who want to reach the waterfront. The completion of the Providence River Pedestrian bridge will provide a much needed connection between downtown and the Fox Point waterfront, it needs to be maintained and be safe and attractive.

The maintenance part is where we so often lose the plot around here.

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Providence Piers Proposal

allens-ave

A couple weeks ago we linked to an article in the ProJo about a proposal to build a medical facility at Pat Conley’s Providence Piers. Today, PBN has a more fleshed out account of that plan.

Rhode Island Medical Arts proposes to build a $350-400 million development to include an acute care center with 250 beds, a hotel, a marina, a floating restaurant, retail, offices, a parking garage, and public walkways.

Currently of course, the area is not zoned for most of these uses. The City Council Ordinance Committee is hearing testimony on changing that however.

What do I think about all this? Well, as I said before, I rather think the uses proposed here would be better suited on land closer to the hospitals or in the Jewelry District. Certainly it would be advantageous to have a hotel in the Hospital District so that loved ones could stay close-by to the hospitals. We have a vast amount of land available for development elsewhere.

That said, I don’t outright oppose these proposed uses in this area either. I think we can find a way to balance the industrial activity currently found on Allens Avenue with other economic development.

Aside from the zoning question, the site also needs environmental remediation. It sounds like the developers are waiting on the state to get that done. Zoning changes, environmental clean-up, funding in this economy… I won’t be holding my breath waiting for the groundbreaking to happen here anytime soon.

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