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

195-parcel-28

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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WPRO: Former Rhode Island Mall to become factory outlets

PowerPoint Presentation

Interior concept rendering from Winstanley Enterprises

The developers of the former Rhode Island Mall are hoping to open “The Outlets at Rhode Island Mall” late next year.

Winstanley Enterprises of Mass. and Surrey Equities of New York bought the mall back in 2012 and had previously planned to turn the vacant shopping center into several big-box stores.

I hate to say I told you so* about the big box concept but… I told you so.

The completed outlet mall would house between 40 and 60 outlet stores according to Silvera. He says it will have similar tenants to the Wrentham Outlets, but unlike Wrentham, it will not be an outdoor mall – they plan to keep the existing exterior of the Rhode Island Mall, but will completely renovate the inside.


The developer has a marketing brochure online

*Who am I kidding, I love to say I told you so.

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City launches storefront improvement grant program

olneyville-storefronts

From the City:


Mayor Taveras Launches Storefront Improvement Program to Revitalize Building Facades, Support Small Businesses

Program is a priority in Mayor’s economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras, joined by local business owners and business leaders, announced the launch of a new storefront improvement program this morning. The program will support the revitalization of building facades and small businesses across Providence. The initiative is one of the steps identified in Mayor Taveras’ 20-point economic development plan, Putting Providence Back to Work.

“Providence is known for its diverse, historic neighborhoods, which are anchored by small businesses,” said Mayor Taveras. “The storefront improvement program is designed to attract customers to existing businesses, revitalize local business districts, and enhance the beauty and safety of Providence’s neighborhoods.”

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City kicks off 2013 Buy Providence/Buy Art shopping campaign

buy-art-buy-providence

Photo from Mayor Taveras’ Facebook page

Mayor Taveras Kicks Off Buy Providence-Buy Art Holiday Shopping Campaign

Mayor Angel Taveras joined Greater Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White, U.S. Small Business Administration Rhode Island District Director Mark Hayward, business owners, artists and community members in Wayland Square this morning to kick off the 2013 Buy Providence-Buy Art holiday shopping campaign.

Mayor Taveras urged Providence residents and visitors to support the city’s local economy during the upcoming holiday season and declared November 27, 2013 “Buy Providence-Buy Art Day” in the City of Providence. He also announced the rollout of a holiday parking program that offers shoppers two hours of free parking in the city’s commercial and retail districts.

“Providence is an artistic and creative city that is the perfect place to do all of your holiday shopping,” said Mayor Taveras. “The entire community benefits when we buy locally and support our local economy during the holiday season and throughout the year.”

The Wayland Square Merchants Association (WSMA) hosted the kickoff event this morning at The Olive Tap, a small business on Angell Street. Local merchants from across the Capital City attended the event.

“It is important to support small businesses in Providence,” said Wayland Square Merchants Association President and CLAD In Manager Asa Orsino. “Any time we get support from our city and our neighbors, it has a positive impact on our business and in our community.”

Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration Rhode Island District Office, the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Brown University also participated in the kickoff.

“Small business is the engine that drives our economy. They are also the job creators,” said Mark S. Hayward, director of the SBA Rhode Island District Office. “We must do all that we can to support the city’s small business community and provide them with the tools they need to grow and succeed.”

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ProJo: Residential construction, office space eyed for Fox Point land

The existing 3-story building on the one-acre lot now houses Vanity Restaurant. That portion of the development will house commercial tenants with the existing 11,000-square-foot structure expanded to 40,000 square feet of commercial space. The residential portion of the project will be new construction that includes 52 one- and two-bedroom apartments, including two penthouse suites. It will also have a rooftop garden. There will be 170 parking spaces for tenants and visitors.

vanity

Image from Google Maps

This project was on the Downtown Design Review Committee agenda in September. The project is being called, Esplanade at India Point.

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Reader Submission: Unpaved Smith Hill

Providence New capital hill

In response to recent discussions on parking at the State House reader Nicolas R. Mariscal submits a Photoshop rendering (above) of what the State House area could look like with better land use planning. Nicholas says:

I saw your post on the parking situation at the state house, and agree that the surface parking is an eyesore, like it is almost everywhere else around Providence.

So I was bored after class today and photoshopped an aerial image of the RI State House that could get rid of the surface lots, still keeping in mind that most people commuting will drive to work.

Got rid of the surface lots, and feel a parking garage with a nice facade/metal screen, lighting and shops on the first floor could go on the fourth side(blank side) of the odd postmodern plaza in the middle of all the state offices. Creating a nice courtyard between all the buildings.

I like the idea of combining a parking structure with ground floor retail uses on the State House complex grounds. There really is no good place in the immediate area to get a bite to eat or a cup of coffee for state employees or visitors. Retail at a garage could help that, and the central plaza could become a good place for workers and visitors to enjoy thier lunch.

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Holiday events tonight

Craftland BUY ART Nite!

Buy Art235 Westminster Street
5pm-8pm • December 6, 2012

Every night at Craftland we are here for your art buying needs, but tonight is extra special. Join us to celebrate this year’s 5 Providence artists who have their images on the Buy Art Providence buttons. This year’s artists are Heather Annis, Maria DiFranco, Alison Paul, Quintin Rivera Toro, and Matthew Underwood. Come meet them, see their original artwork on exhibit, raise a glass, and of course shop for one-of-a-kind gifts at Craftland.

Are you ready to have fun? RSVP on Facebook here and bring your friends!


Hope Street Holiday Stroll

Hope Street Holiday StrollHope Street between Rochambeau Avenue and Sixth Street
4pm-8pm • December 6, 2012

Come feel the cheer on Hope Street for the Holidays! This year’s stroll will be HUGE! Musical trolley rides, hay ride, petting zoo, food trucks, fire jugglers, The Extraordinary Rendition Marching Band, tree and wreath sales, Children’s Film Festival Outdoor, blacksmithing, glassblowing, carolling, pictures with SANTA, local celebrities, Human Dreidel, Holiday Parade, Bar Crawl and MORE!

More on Facebook

If you plan to take RIPTA to Hope Street, be aware Route 42 will be detoured due to the road closure.

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Warwick Beacon: RI Mall to have new life as home to big box retailers

…Winstanley sees the potential to attract larger retailers that are not yet present in the area, though he said it was premature to name any specifically.

Depending on retailer demands, Winstanley said the building could house either two or four large stores.

The preliminary phases of the project will continue over the next six to nine months, but Winstanley said people shouldn’t expect to see the mall re-open for at least two years. He said it will take at least a year to design and plan out the project and at least another year for construction.

Hasn’t the recession taught us that the age of the Big Box is coming to a close? Are there any retailers left to attract that aren’t already on Route 2?

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News & Notes

firstworks dining

People eating at Kennedy Plaza during last month’s FirstWorks Festival

The Atlantic Cities: The Power of the Movable Chair

In his classic 1980 study of the use of public spaces in New York City, William H. Whyte and his team of researchers used cameras to watch people and understand how they used the public places in the city. One of the takeaways from the film footage was that people like to sit in public places, and, far more fascinatingly, that if given the option they will almost always move chairs before they sit in them.


The New York Times: How the G.O.P. Became the Anti-Urban Party

A leading Republican columnist, trying to re-stoke her candidate’s faltering campaign before the first presidential debate, felt so desperate that she advised him to turn to cities.

“Wade into the crowd, wade into the fray, hold a hell of a rally in an American city – don’t they count anymore?” Peggy Noonan lamented in The Wall Street Journal. “A big, dense city with skyscrapers like canyons, crowds and placards, and yelling. All of our campaigning now is in bland suburbs and tired hustings.”

But the fact is that cities don’t count anymore – at least not in national Republican politics.

See also: Greater Greater Washington: Presidential debate again ignores urban issues


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Storified: Changing the perception of Downcity

Changing the perception of Downcity

A commenter at last week’s Providence Preservation Society Symposium stated that Downcity Providence is just vacant buildings and homeless people, prompting the following discussion on Twitter.

Storified by Gr. City Providence · Wed, Oct 17 2012 08:52:08

Ugh. Downcity is NOT just vacant buildings and homeless people. #pvdsymposiumGr. City Providence
@gcpvd do they really think that? Our population doubled in from 2000-2010Jason Becker
@jasonpbecker people who only come Downcity on Sunday mornings it seems. Maybe they’ll learn on the lunch break.Gr. City Providence
@gcpvd @jasonpbecker <chuckle> on Sundays it _is_ like that. Solution is to double downtown pop every 5 yrs.Allan Tear
@gcpvd I can’t sleep on weekend until 1 because its loud and I love that. Restaurants are full all the time. Tons of people work here.Jason Becker
@gcpvd I’m so sick of Warwick and Cranston pretending they know anything about Providence. They don’t come here. They don’t know.Jason Becker
@allantear @gcpvd lots of ways to do that. Too bad neither city or state rigorously pursuing itJason Becker
@jasonpbecker @gcpvd or an individual/private group. All sorts of problems w/ that being a public led vision – witness Oaklands 10K project.Allan Tear
@allantear @gcpvd generally agree but a lot of that work is dependent on currently government held land & a lot of what’s needed are "bones"Jason Becker
@allantear @gcpvd you won’t double downcity population by building 10,000 parking spots over existing surface lots.Jason Becker
@jasonpbecker @gcpvd so true!Allan Tear
@allantear @gcpvd won’t get suburban RIers to pay for city living where they still feel need for car & are surrounded by surface lotsJason Becker
@jasonpbecker @gcpvd those are the wrong assumptions, IMO. The next 1K residents will not be RI suburbanite émigrés. They will be imports.Allan Tear
@allantear @gcpvd who aren’t going to be excited by parking lots & no grocery shopping in sight. And there is 0 residential visionJason Becker
@allantear @gcpvd people don’t want to come here bc they don’t get the full benefits of a city. Need car. No family housing.Jason Becker
@jasonpbecker @gcpvd so let’s change it.Allan Tear
@allantear @gcpvd Westminster is what they want to see– for a couple of miles continuous.Jason Becker
@allantear @gcpvd I think @ProvPlanning has the vision 80% right. But they were shut out. I don’t see opportunity to influence commission.Jason Becker
@allantear @gcpvd feels like it marches in isolation barely interested in or accountable to the city, it’s residents, and its needs.Jason Becker
@allantear @gcpvd Im 25, own Downcity, knowledge sector employee in policy, interested in development- 0 opportunity to authentically engageJason Becker
@jasonpbecker Fair critique. No doubt trad powers have no place to plug in. But they’ve no mo’, either. Sounds like u r ripe for RIIF grant!Allan Tear
Yesterday’s story from PBN highlights the exacerbation I feel with the notion that Downcity is dead. It is not 1982 anymore people, come downtown and see what is happening.
Boutique shops build momentum – .comWhen Nora Alexander was a student at Rhode Island School of Design 10 years ago, the only things that routinely drew her and her classmat…

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PBN: Boutique shops build momentum

The downtown boutique retail scene has been growing for many years and appears to be picking up momentum again after weathering the recession and end of the historic-tax-credit program that helped fuel it in the previous decade.

With major residential-commercial redevelopment projects soon to be completed at the Arcade and former National Grid buildings, downtown boosters are preparing for more growth on the horizon.

A good read for people who only come Downcity once every 10 years and think it is still 1982 down here.

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ProJo: $7-million Arcade revival taking shape

Seven months after unveiling a plan to transform the landmark Arcade building into a mix of retail and loft apartments, the owner of America’s oldest indoor mall says the project is taking shape.

Evan Granoff, of 130 Westminster Street Associates LLC, says four “unique” restaurants and 14 other small retail shops may occupy the first floor of the 1828 granite building as early as the end of September.

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News & Notes

TriMet: MAX and Bus on Portland Mall

MAX train and bus in Portland, OR. Photo (cc) TriMet.

The Atlantic Cities: Can Light Rail Carry a City’s Transit System?

We often think of light rail as a single component of a larger transit system, but if it’s done right it can just as soon serve as the foundation. Since 1981 a dozen American cities have built light rail lines atop bus-only systems. In five of them — Dallas, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and San Diego — light rail now accounts for at least 30 percent of all transit ridership in the metropolitan area, even as it covers less than that much service space in the region.

Thompson and Brown settled on three key factors in the success of these systems. First, a great light rail system anchors a transit network that’s dispersed throughout a metro area. Second, it acts as an express regional alternative to the local bus network. And third, it promotes transfers between the bus and rail systems. The researchers believe these traits can serve as guides for future light rail planners “by setting forth attributes that these services need to possess in order to attract substantial ridership.”


Boston.com: Car-free commuting push pays off in Kendall Square

Doug Taylor used to get to work the way most Americans do, driving alone. Then he switched jobs to one of the many Kendall Square companies that offer financial incentives for employees to leave their cars at home. After trying the commuter rail, the 48-year-old Medford resident soon discovered he could pocket even more by biking.

Taylor is part of a set of statistics so surprising it looks like a mistake. ­Despite the rapid expansion in and around Kendall Square in the last ­decade — the neighborhood absorbed a 40 percent increase in commercial and institutional space, adding 4.6 million square feet of development — automobile traffic actually dropped on major streets, with vehicle counts falling as much as 14 percent.

Not for nothing but, modern day Kendall Square is a model City and State leaders are looking toward in regards to the (so-called) Knowledge District. Though leaders have not been looking enough at the transportation aspects of the area.


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Nikki’s Liquors seeks to move to Broadway

nikkis-broadway

Many beer afficianados across southern New England are familiar with Nikki’s Liquors on the North Providence / Providence line. Nikki’s is famous for originating the Mix-a-six whereby one can make their own six pack by mixing together any six bottles of the craft beer varieties available.

Owned for the last 12 years by David and Michael Iannazzi, Nikki’s is now fixing to move to the old DePasquale Pharmacy Building on Broadway where they hope to expand their reputation for beer into the fine wine and spirits markets.

On their website about the new location, the owners explain:

  • An area where Nikki’s can become a neighborhood partner and an active part of the community; an area with complementary businesses that attract customers with similar tastes and interests; ease of access to downtown and the highways to further develop our status as a destination specialty shop for craft beer enthusiasts; and more physical space to handle our increasing selection.
  • The facilities provided by 319 Broadway meet all of our criteria. The larger physical size of this location will also provide space to hold craft beer educational classes and seminars. This location will allow us to continue our quest to expand on our vision of creating the most unique specialty craft beer/liquor boutique in the city.
  • We need your support. We believe that the proposed project will be a “win-win” situation for Nikki’s, local area businesses and the Broadway neighborhood community.

As a Federal Hill resident, all I can say is, I can’t wait!

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Downcity Design Review Committee Meeting – July 9, 2012

Notice of Regular Meeting
Monday, July 9, 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 Meeting Minutes of May 14, 2012 and June 11, 2012

New Business

DRC Application No. 12.16: 130 Westminster Street (The Arcade) Proposal by 130 Westminster Street Associates, LLC, to re?open existing window openings and install new windows; install new signage; and install new exterior stair glass enclosures and security gates as part of the renovation plan for the building.

Adjournment


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