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Providence Public Library Planing Renovations

Proposed LED sign panels on the Providence Public Library facade

The Providence Public Library is planning a major renovation to their Empire Street building.

Providence Public Library (PPL) is planning to undertake the state’s largest-ever library renovation beginning later this year. The project will address required life safety systems upgrades, as well as make major infrastructure improvements to PPL’s downtown buildings. The approximately 85,000-square foot project will transform the Library’s 1950s wing, auditorium, and special collection areas to provide 21st-century library services for Providence and Rhode Island residents.

Read more about the PPL planned renovations on their website.

The proposed LED screens on the Empire Street facade of the building (shown rendered at the top of this post) is causing some sturm und drang among some preservationist and others. Providence Business News reports on the controversy. Personally, I kind of like the screens. I’m all about more light and signs downtown, especially proximate to LaSalle Square.

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Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting – March 13, 2017

Downtown Design Review Committee Meeting
Notice of Regular Meeting
Monday, March 13, 2017 4:45pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-round

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of 1/9/17

New Business

View of proposed building as seen from the corner of Washington and Mathewson Streets (Cube3 Architects)

1. DRC Application No. 17.07: 66 Fountain Street and 78 Fountain Street (commercial building and parking lot) – Public Hearing – The subject of the hearing will be an application by 78 Fountain JV Owner LLC, to demolish the existing structure located at 66 Fountain Street, and to construct a new 6?story, mixed?use building on the site at 78 Fountain Street. The applicant is requesting a Downtown District Demolition Waiver (Zoning Ordinance Section 1907.2), and a waiver from Zoning Ordinance Section 606.E.1 Building Facades/Ground Floor Transparency. At the conclusion of the hearing, the DDRC will take action with respect to these items.

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Providence 2017 State of the City Address

Image from the Mayor’s Twitter feed

Mayor Jorge Elorza delivered his 2017 State of the City Address on February 1st. Below is the text of the address from the Mayor’s Office:


Changing The Narrative About Providence

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Council President Aponte, Members of the City Council, Members of the General Assembly and fellow residents.

It’s been two years since I took office and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the residents of this city as Mayor. I’ve had a chance to meet with residents from every corner of the city and from every walk of life. I’ve scheduled community conversations in every neighborhood and coffee hours in every ward. I’ve visited every school in the city and just about every park, field and court in Providence. I’ve visited scores of businesses and have attended as many events as can fit on a person’s schedule.

At every point, I’ve tried to interact, listen and learn from our friends and neighbors. And what I’ve learned throughout the past couple of years is what makes me more optimistic than ever about the potential we have here in Providence. I’ve learned that our residents’ commitment to Providence is second to none. The connection that we have to our individual neighborhoods is unlike anything you’ll see throughout the state. The kindness that I’ve seen towards others, convinces me that you won’t find a more compassionate group of residents anywhere else. And, the amazing work that’s done in our neighborhoods convinces me that when we’re working together, we’re capable of accomplishing anything.

Now, we’ve had challenges in the past and while it is important to understand the root of those challenges, it is far more important to find solutions. After all, we are elected and placed in these positions to move the city forward. Fellow residents, every decision that I have made has been with my eye towards 5 and 10 years into the future and I’ve focused not only on where we want to be and how to get there, but also on how we’re going to sustain it by doing it together.

Providence is a special city with no shortage of strengths that we have to build off of. But it is also fair to say, that we still have not fully unlocked the potential of our people and our institutions. You see, there are four key challenges (each decades in the making) that we must address to create the strong and sustainable future that our city deserves; and it is these four areas (Finances, Infrastructure, Schools, and City Services) that I’ve been focused on these past 2 years and that I need your continued help to address.

When I took office, we got to work to ensure that the city’s finances were healthy. And just as a doctor would treat a patient, we made sure that we stopped the bleeding first. At the end of fiscal year 15, the city faced a $13M cumulative deficit. Effectively, this is money that we owed on the city’s credit card. But with the support of the City Council, and by reforming the way we put the budget together, eliminating almost every one-time, short-term solution, renegotiating contracts, and keeping track of every cent that comes in and out, we ended the following fiscal year with the largest operating surplus in the city’s records. And, this means that we’ll be paying off the cumulative deficit three years sooner than anyone expected.

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2017 Providence Preservation Society Most Endangered Properties list

Humboldt Fire Station – Photo by Yvette Brunet for PPS

The Providence Preservation Society announced thier annual list of the city’s Most Endangered Properties this week.

  • Atlantic Mills, 100 Manton Avenue, Olneyville (1863)
  • Barstow Stove Company (known as Tops Electric Company), 120 Point Street, Jewelry District (c. 1849)
  • Bomes Theatre, 1017 Broad Street, Elmwood (1921)
  • Broad Street Synagogue, 688 Broad Street (1910-1911)
  • Cranston Street Armory, 310 Cranston Street, West End (1907)
  • Humboldt Fire Station, 155 Humboldt Avenue, Wayland (1906)
  • Industrial Trust Building, 111 Westminster Street, Downtown (1928)
  • Rhodes Street National Register District, Rhodes/Alphonso/Janes Streets, Upper South Providence, (1850s-1890s)
  • Sheffield Smith House, 334 Smith Street, Smith Hill (1855)
  • Former Sixth Precinct Police Station, 36 Chaffee Street, Olneyville (1890)
  • Welcome Arnold House, 21 Planet Street, College Hill (1785-1798)

For further information on each property, visit the Providence Preservation Society’s website.

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Providence Capital Improvement Plan

Dean Street sidewalk work in 2009

You may remember the Mayor and City Council could not come to an agreement on a bond issue for this last year. So here’s this.

Press Release from the Mayor’s Office:


Mayor Elorza Announces Comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)

CIP submitted as part of the agenda for the next City Planning Commission Meeting

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Elorza today announced a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan to be submitted and vetted as part of the budget process in Providence.

“The presentation of this Capital Improvement Plan is part of my continuing commitment to long-term planning throughout the city,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “By outlining a 5-year plan, we can be proactive about repairs and maintenance, instead of waiting until things break to fix them. This plan achieves that goal and outlines the projects we need to invest in to keep our city strong from the ground up.”

The City’s proposed Capital Improvement Plan is a five-year program of planned improvements to Providence’s public infrastructure. The goal of the CIP is to facilitate and coordinate future capital improvements within the City’s current and future financial framework while creating a predictable and appropriate list of planned investments.

“We commend Mayor Elorza and his administration for taking an important step in planning for the city’s capital improvement needs,” said Council President Luis Aponte. “Our hope is for a plan that understands and addresses the infrastructure needs of each neighborhood equitably, and we look forward to reviewing this plan at length in once it’s presented to the City Council.”

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Downtown Design Review Committee Special Meeting – New Building at 169 Canal – January 9, 2017

Downtown Design Review Committee
Notice of Special Meeting
Monday, January 9, 2017 – 4:45pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

Renderings of 169 Canal Street by DBVW Architects

drc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Meeting Minutes of 11/7/16 and 12/5/16
  • Annual Election of Vice Chair

New Business

1. DRC Application No. 16.34: 169 Canal Street (parking lot) – Public Hearing – The subject of the hearing will be an application by Vision Properties, requesting a development incentive in the form of a height bonus, and waivers from Providence Zoning Ordinance Section 606, Design Standards for New Construction, for a new 13-story mixed-use building to be constructed at 169 Canal Street, Providence, RI. The applicant is seeking a 30% height bonus and waivers from Sections 606.A.4 (Recess Line Requirement), 606.E.1 (Building Facades/Ground Floor Transparency), and 606.E.3 (Building Facades/Upper Level Transparency). At the conclusion of the hearing, the DDRC will take action with respect to these items and then continue review of the building design. The applicant was granted conceptual approval of the new construction at the December 15, 2016 meeting.

Adjournment

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One Hundred Harris, Proposed Parking with Residences at Old Fruit & Produce Warehouse Site

A proposal by the Carpionato Group for 776 parking spaces and 459 residential units at 100 Harris Avenue (aka the Old Fruit and Produce Warehouse) is on the City Plan Commission Agenda for their meeting on December 20th.

From the CPC Agenda:

MAJOR LAND DEVELOPMENT PROJECT – PUBLIC INFORMATIONAL MEETING
6. Case No. 16-054 MA – 100 Harris Avenue (Master Plan) – The applicant is proposing to construct two buildings and a parking structure on three lots measuring a total of approximately 6.06 acres. The development will provide 459 residential units and 776 parking spaces in addition to residential amenities. The site is zoned M-MU 90 – for action (AP 26 Lot 368 and 370, AP 19 Lot 38, Olneyville)

So this is weird and ugly, and holy parking! But it is also in that tragic no-mans land behind the mall, so…

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Wexford Science & Technology Innovation Center and Hotel

Aerial view of Wexford project at full build-out

The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission authorized a series of incentives Monday to attract Wexford Science & Technology LLC, as well as the Cambridge Innovation Center, to two prime parcels of the former highway land.

In a presentation made in public session, the principals of both companies, as well as developer CV Properties LLC, outlined their plans to collaborate in a $158 million first phase of a mixed-use, innovation district and life-sciences center.

The project will include a 170-room hotel with event space and a seven-story, 191,000-square-foot Innovation Building, which will include 66,000 square feet for the CIC, a Massachusetts-based firm that provides individual and collaborative spaces for startup companies. Brown University, as well as the CIC, have signed letters of intent to lease space in the new building, with Brown moving its School of Professional Studies into a planned, 50,000-square-foot portion.

The hotel would be developed by CV Properties LLC, which is now constructing the South Street Landing project.


WPRI reports that the hotel will be an Aloft brand.

Rendering of proposed Aloft Hotel

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6/10 Final Plan Released

Rendering of proposed Westminster Street crossing

Some commentary on the final plans released by the State for the 6/10 Connector rebuild.

Download RIDOT’s Presentation on the 6/10 Connector

RI Future: 6-10 Connector plan is way better than it could have been, by Alex Krogh Grabbe Ellis

I’ve been talking up a progressive, urban solution for the 6-10 Connector almost as long as James Kennedy has. So I was excited and cautious and skeptical yesterday at the press event revealing the compromise plan for the corridor negotiated between RIDOT and the City of Providence. There were words from Governor Raimondo, Mayor Elorza, Providence Planning & Development Director Bonnie Nickerson, and RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.

As it turns out, I left the room more optimistic than I went in. If everything in the plan gets built as laid out yesterday, I will be pretty pleased. Here are some pros and cons as I see them:

Visit RI Future to read Alex’s full list if Pros, Cons, and Conclusions on the plan.


Transport Providence: Demand a Mile to Get an Inch

The governor used autocratic power to block the fully realistic aspirations of the city, not just to the city’s detriment, but to the state’s. She has failed to be a leader on climate change or racial justice, the two major struggles of our time. The Cheonngyecheon highway-removal in Seould was a success despite carrying 60% more vehicles than 6/10. Any statement on this agreement must acknowledge the ways that Gov. Raimondo has failed future generations of Rhode Islanders by being so obstructive.

I would have liked the mayor to fight a bit harder and more publicly, but that is a sin of omission. His administration, and especially his planning department, deserve more credit for working as hard as they did. I hope the mayor will consider state office someday.


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The Commons at Providence Station breaks ground

Rendering of The Commons released in 2014

The Providence Journal: First project to earn RI tax credit will break ground in Providence Wednesday

The real-estate development firm Trilogy Development LLC, of Providence, and the residential-management firm John M. Corcoran & Co. LLC, of Braintree, Massachusetts, are working as partners to develop The Commons at Providence Station. They’ve created a real-estate entity for this project, Capital Cove Development LLC, of Braintree, Trilogy President Kevin Chase told The Providence Journal on Tuesday.

Their 169-unit building will be at 80 Smith St., east of the railroad tracks and the State House, and at the intersection of Smith and Canal streets. The firms expect the one- and two-bedroom apartments to be completed in summer 2018 – and to rent for $2,000 and $2,700 per month, respectively, Chase said. The smaller units will be about 710 square feet, and the larger ones will be slightly larger than 1,000 square feet.


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RIPTA Downtown Transit Corridor Public Meeting – December 6, 2016

ripta-kp

From RIPTA:


RIPTA and the City of Providence to Hold Community Meeting on Downtown Transit Connector (DTC)

Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday, December 6th at 5:00 pm at the Joseph Doorley Municipal Building in Providence

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) and the City of Providence are hosting a community meeting to provide an initial overview of plans for a high-frequency transit corridor in downtown Providence. The meeting is also intended to solicit ideas and public input on the project. The transit corridor will connect the Providence Amtrak/MBTA Station and the Hospital District with high-frequency bus service.

The meeting will be held from 5:00pm to 6:30pm on Tuesday, December 6, 2016, at the Joseph Doorley Municipal Building (1st Floor), located at 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

The corridor, which has the working name of the Downtown Transit Connector (DTC), will create six “station-like” stops between Providence Station and the Hospital District. These stops will be designed with a unique and highly-visible identity and will include bus shelters, real time information bus arrival signage, bike share stations and other passenger amenities. The project will strive to create attractive public spaces around each stop.

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Atwells at Knight – Proposed Mixed-Use Building on Federal Hill

434-atwells-001

Rendering of Atwells at Knight by Northeast Collaborative Architects

At their November 15th meeting, the City Plan Commission will be reviewing a proposal to construct a 5-story building with ground floor commercial with apartments on the upper-floors at 434 Atwells Avenue on Federal Hill. The proposed project contains 40 parking spaces partially enclosed and partially in an open surface lot.

The CPC’s agenda item:

The applicant is requesting master plan approval to construct a mixed use development in the C-1 zone that will provide forty residential units, forty internal parking spaces and retail space on the ground floor. A height of 50 feet and five stories is proposed. The applicant is seeking a dimensional adjustment from the 45 feet, 4 story height limit of the zone and an adjustment for two parking spaces – for action (AP 28 Lot 150 – 9,993 SF, AP 33 Lot 508 – 10,353 SF, Federal Hill)

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Downtown Design Review Committee Special Meeting – November 7, 2016

Downtown Design Review Committee
Notice of Special Meeting
Monday, November 7, 2016 – 4:45pm
Doorley Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

drc-roundAgenda

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call

New Business

chestnut-commons-001

chestnut-commons-002

Renderings of proposal for 91 Chestnut Street

1. DRC Application No. 16.30: I-195 Redevelopment District Parcel 30/91 Chestnut Street – Proposal by Waldorf Capital Management, LLC to construct a new mixed-use building on the property. The DRC will conceptually review the project and make a recommendation to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.

Pre-Application Review

2. 217 Washington Street (Providence Public Library) – Proposed exterior renovations to the Empire Street building (1954 addition). This item is for discussion only. No action will be taken by the DRC at this meeting.

Adjournment

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WPRI: Construction underway to new commuter rail station

pawtucket-station

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation kicked off construction Monday morning for the Pawtucket Central Falls Commuter Rail Station.

[…]

It’s slated to open in 2020, and will serve as a stop on the MBTA commuter rail between Rhode Island and Boston,

State officials say it will also function as a busing hub.


I obviously have not been paying enough attention. I knew this was closer to reality than it has been in decades, but I still thought we were going to be talking it to death for another year or two at least. Wow, great news!

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Providence Preservation Society 2016 Symposium: Why Preserve? – November 3-4, 2016

superman-pps

From the Providence Preservation Society:


PPS Announces 2016 Providence Symposium: Why Preserve?

Industrial Trust Building is setting for national conversation on why preservation matters to communities

The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) announces the 2016 Providence Symposium, Why Preserve?, November 3-4, 2016 at the Industrial Trust Building, 111 Westminster Street.

The annual Providence Symposium engages experts from across the nation as well as local stakeholders on topics critical to the future of Providence. In 1956, PPS inaugurated what became a national model for historic preservation. Sixty years later, PPS asks its founding question of a new generation: Why Preserve? The 2016 Symposium will launch a year of community-based conversations around these foundational preservation questions: Why do we preserve? What do we preserve? Who decides what we preserve – that is, who are “we”? What are the costs of preservation? Who bears them?

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2016 Rhode Island statewide ballot questions

election-2016

Below is information on the 7 statewide ballot questions which will be appearing on the November 8th ballot. All information from the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s office.

Download the full Voter Information Handbook from the Secretary of State’s office

1. STATE CONSTITUTIONAL APPROVAL

Approval of an act authorizing state-operated casino gaming at “Twin River-Tiverton” in the Town of Tiverton
Section 22 of Article VI of the Constitution

Shall an act be approved which would authorize a facility owned by Twin River-Tiverton, LLC, located in the Town of Tiverton at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road, to be licensed as a pari-mutuel
facility and offer state-operated video-lottery games and state-operated casino gaming, such as table games?

Approve

Your vote to “Approve” this question means you want to allow a new state-operated casino, including video-lottery games and table games, to be built in Tiverton, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road.

Reject

Your vote to “Reject” this question means you do not want to allow a new state-operated casino, including video-lottery games and table games, to be built in Tiverton, at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road.

Explanation and purpose of Question 1:

This question is asking voters to allow a new state-operated casino to be built in Tiverton at the intersection of William S. Canning Boulevard and Stafford Road. Approval will require that voters in Tiverton and throughout the State of Rhode Island vote in favor of building the casino. The casino would be owned by Twin River-Tiverton and would be licensed and regulated by the State.

The Twin River-Tiverton Casino would include video-lottery games and table games and replace what is currently Newport Grand.

This question is before the voters because the Rhode Island Constitution requires that voters approve any expansion of gambling. More specifically, Article VI, Section 22 of the Rhode Island Constitution provides that “no act expanding the types of gambling permitted within any city or town in the State of Rhode Island shall take effect until it has been approved by a majority of those electors voting in a statewide referendum and by the majority of those electors voting in a referendum in the municipality in which the proposed gambling would be allowed.”

How much money will be borrowed?

The referendum would not authorize any borrowing


2. AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE

Restoration of ethics commission jurisdiction over General Assembly members
Section 8 of Article III and Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution

Section 8 of Article III of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 8. Ethics commission – Code of ethics. – The general assembly shall establish an independent non-partisan ethics commission which shall adopt a code of ethics including, but not limited to, provisions on conflicts of interest, confidential information, use of position, contracts with government agencies and financial disclosure. The assent of two-thirds (2/3) of the members appointed shall be required for the adoption for every rule or regulation. All elected and appointed officials and employees of state and local government, of boards, commissions and agencies shall be subject to the code of ethics. The ethics commission shall have the authority to investigate alleged violations of the code of ethics, including acts otherwise protected by Article VI, Section 5, and to impose penalties, as provided by law;. and the Any sanction issued against any party by the ethics commission shall be appealable to the judicial branch as provided by law. The commission shall have the power to remove from office officials who are not otherwise subject to impeachment, or expulsion as provided by Article VI, Section 7.

Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution shall be amended to read as follows:

Section 5. Immunities of general assembly members. – The persons of all members of the general assembly shall be exempt from arrest and their estates from attachment in any civil action, during the session of the general assembly, and two days before the commencement and two days after the termination thereof, and all process served contrary hereto shall be void. For any speech in debate in either house, no member shall be questioned in any other place, except by the ethics commission as set forth in Article III, Section 8.

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Proposed Holiday Inn Express on Pine Street

holiday-inn-express-002

Rendering of proposed Holiday Inn Express along the west side Service Road

At the October 18th City Plan Commission meeting a proposal for a Holiday Inn Express on Pine Street at the west side Service Road adjacent to Crossroads RI will be presented.

Below are renderings and plans, and a few thoughts on the proposal. The drawings and plans are by ZDS of Providence.

holiday-inn-express-001

Proposed site plan

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