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15-story ‘Edge College Hill Two’ proposed for Canal Street site

Massing model of proposed Edge College Hill Two. The first Edge College Hill building under construciton now is rendered to the left. DBVW Architects

While the 15-story Edge College Hill building is currently under construction on Canal Street, a proposal for a second 15-story building (Edge College Hill Two), will be heard by the Downtown Design Review Committee on Monday, January 8th.

Providence Business News reports on the proposal:

The application by Steeple Street RI LLC would place the Edge College Hill Two building at 131 Canal St., with frontage on Canal, Elizabeth and North Main streets, and wrapping around the historic Congdon & Carpenter building.

The development pursued by Vision Properties, of Conshohocken, Pa., would require development rights transferred from the adjoining historical building to reach the proposed height of 15 stories.

[…]

Michael Viveiros, a principal at the firm, said the building would feature one-bedroom and efficiency apartments, but with larger footprints than the micro-units to be offered in the first building.

The two new buildings would not be mirror images in design. “We’re making a design very specific to the neighborhood and addressing what is a changing scale [in Providence],” he said.

The first thing to note, the image at the top of the post is a massing model, not a rendering as PBN identified it in their story. There is an important difference.

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Providence Preservation Society opposes demolition of 4 buildings by Brown University

The Leonard M. Blodgett and the Edward J. Cushing Houses, photo from PPS

An update to the Brown Institutional Master Plan submitted to the Providence City Plan Commission calls for the demolition of 4 historic buildings on the College Hill for the construction of a Performance Arts Center. The Providence Preservation Society opposes the demolition of the buildings.

Press Release from PPS:


Update on Brown IMP Amendment at CPC

On December 19, 2017, the City Plan Commission (CPC) voted to continue the public hearing of the Brown Institutional Master Plan (IMP) amendment following a presentation by the university architect and comment by 20 community members. Those who spoke eloquently against the demolition of four historical buildings on Brown’s College Hill campus were a who’s who of local preservationists, historians, architects, and developers, and College Hill residents; many of them were Brown alumni, parents, and faculty in addition to two current environmental studies students. At least a dozen more people were there in support of the preservation of these College Hill resources.

The IMP amendment has two main components: the new wellness center and residence at 450 Brook Street and the new performing arts center (PAC). The plan for the PAC involves the demolition of four 19th century buildings on Waterman and Angell Streets, including the Lucien Sharpe Carriage House at 135 Angell Street, home to Brown’s renowned Urban Environmental Lab (UEL) for nearly 40 years. A feasibility study commissioned by Brown determined that one building on the proposed site could be relocated: Norwood House at 82 Waterman Street could be moved to 20 Olive Street, currently a Brown-owned parking lot. The Olive Street location falls within the College Hill local historic district; according to the Historic District Commission (HDC) guidelines, moving a historic structure into a local historic district is “discouraged except as a last alternative to demolition”.

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PBN: RIDOT awards $248M 6-10 Interchange rebuild contract to 6/10 Constructors

Video animation from RIDOT

The group had the lowest construction cost bid for the project at $248 million and the highest scoring technical proposal of any bid.

The 6/10 Constructor bid team includes New England companies, Barletta Heavy Division Inc., O&G Industries Inc., D.W. White Construction Inc. and Aetna Bridge Co.

The proposal was a design-build contract, which RIDOT says reduces the risk of cost overruns by creating a team that consists of both designer and contractor. The multi-faceted team is expected to decrease change orders and design errors.

[…]

RIDOT said that 20 percent of the project design has been completed already. The department expects the design to be ready in one year, with an expected construction completion in the fall of 2023.

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Bike-Share coming to Providence in 2018

Image from JUMP Bikes’ Facebook Page

Press release from the City of Providence:


Providence to Launch JUMP Bikes, New England’s First Electric Bike Share System

400 electric-assist bikes to be available in capital city in summer 2018

Providence, RI- Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced that the City of Providence will launch JUMP Bikes, New England’s first electric bike share system in summer 2018. A contract for a bike share system with 400 JUMP electric-assist bikes (e-bikes) was signed on December 15, 2017.

“A bike share program positions Providence to be a more sustainable, healthier, and fun city for years to come,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Similar programs across the nation have had transformative effects on communities. We are thrilled to be among the first cities in the region to offer these bikes that will allow residents and visitors to explore the capital city in a unique and exciting way.”

JUMP Bikes are owned and operated by Social Bicycles, a Brooklyn, NY based company and one of the most trusted bike share companies with over 12,000 dockless bicycles in over 40 markets including Washington, DC, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Portland, Oregon. The launch is the result of a public-private partnership between Social Bicycles, the City of Providence, and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA).

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ProJo: Long-awaited pedestrian bridge taking shape over Providence River

Photo from RIDOT’s Facebook page

The bridge is expected to be completed by the end of October 2018, said Charles St. Martin, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, the agency in charge of the $16.97-million project.

[…]

The pedestrian bridge now being built on the piers that once carried the highway will eventually connect a nearly 5-acre park on the west side of the river with a nearly 2-acre park to its east. The DOT is responsible for constructing the bridge and parks, among the final elements of the highway realignment.

[…]

The DOT expects to put parks construction out to bid by the end of this year, start work in the spring and conclude the work by summer 2019, St. Martin said.

The new bridge will a key link in the CityWalk project currently under development.

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National Trust for Historic Preservation: Historic Tax Credit Eliminated

“Our tax credits have made the preservation of our older buildings not only a matter of respect for beauty and history, but of economic good sense.” –President Ronald Reagan in 1984

Press Release from National Trust for Historic Preservation:


Today the House Ways and Means Committee released a proposed tax reform bill that eliminates the federal historic tax credit (HTC) as part of a sweeping effort to both pay for tax cuts and simplify the tax code.

While not unexpected, this policy proposal deals a significant blow to historic preservation. The HTC has a four-decade track record of success in saving our nation’s historic buildings, creating over 2.4 million jobs, and actually generating revenue for the U.S. Treasury, returning $1.20 for every taxpayer dollar spent.

President Ronald Reagan praised the HTC as “economic good sense” by significantly leveraging private sector investment. Developers have completed over 42,000 challenging historic rehabilitation projects using the HTC. Without this powerful incentive, historic rehabilitation across the nation will halt, as will significant reinvestment in our communities.

Introduction of the House tax reform bill represents the beginning of a difficult legislative process. We will continue to advocate vigorously in support of this vital preservation tool to ensure a critical redevelopment incentive is preserved in the final tax reform bill—but we cannot do it without you.

Please use our sample message to contact your members of Congress NOW to help save the historic tax credit.

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Barry Schiller: It’s time to re-assess that proposed train station bus hub

Do you remember that in 2014 Rhode Islanders approved a vaguely worded $35 million bus hub transit bond? However, at this point, with that much money at stake, I think our state should re-examine the need for the proposed Providence train station area bus hub.

A news report indicated no Boston area developers were interested in leveraging the voter-approved bond money for a public-private partnership in the train station area. I suspect state leaders support for the bus hub project was predicated on drawing that investment, and so maybe now they are less interested. Recall the hub was a Chafee administration initiative that Raimondo, RIDOT Director Alviti, RIPTA Board Chair Kezirian, etc. inherited so they may not be all that committed to implement it. Further, now that it has apparently been deemed too expensive to build over the railroad tracks, the alternative of taking some of the State House lawn has engendered opposition from historic interests and maybe the Capital Center Commission too. In addition there are concerns the roads in the area are already often congested and adding many more buses can make it worse.

However, downtown interests may still want to eliminate or reduce the buses (and the low income people it transports) in Kennedy Plaza and hope a train station bus hub will be an alternative. They seem to have the ear of the Mayor who never much seemed interested in bus transit. Unions and contractors will also tend to favor spending the money on a new bus hub, for the construction jobs.

Though needs of the homeless and downtown business owners are both important, they are secondary to the interests of taxpayers who approved the money for transportation. Bus and rail passengers have nothing to gain from building a new bus hub at the train station. The relatively few transferring to/from trains already have 5 bus lines (50, 55, 56, 57, and R) to connect them to Kennedy Plaza and the bus network, plus a place to wait indoors get information, access to bathrooms, even coffee, at an intermodal facility called the “train station.” We don’t need another building, or to add un-needed buses to the already congested area.

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WPRI: Bike-share service coming to Providence

Image from Social Bicycles’ blog

City Councilman Bryan Principe, who represents Ward 13, will introduce a resolution at Tuesday’s council meeting that would authorize the Elorza administration to enter into a five-year $400,000 contract with Social Bicycles, a well-known company that will oversee the “implementation, management, and operation” of the bike-share service.

[…]

The bikes will be located at 40 stations near the Downtown Transit Connector, which will run from Capital Center through downtown to the Rhode Island Hospital area. Other stations will be placed in Fox Point, College Hill and portions of the West End and Federal Hill, according to the RFP.

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Mayor Elorza vetos City Council Resolution regarding bike lanes

Mayor Elorza speaking at ribbon-cutting of Fountain Street bike lane in November 2016

Last week the Providence City Council passed a Resolution calling for, “full traffic impact and economic impact studies prior to deciding whether to construct new bicycle lanes.”

Bicycle and transportation advocates, along with the Mayor and at least 5 members of the Council hold that these studies would out unnecessary expense in the way of expanding bicycle infrastructure within the city. The Mayor vetoed the Resolution.

From the Mayor:

I vetoed the Providence City Council’s resolution regarding bike lane planning because it sends the wrong message about bicycle and pedestrian safety here in Providence. We support Complete Streets here in our city, meaning that our infrastructure is designed and operated for safe access for all users, of all abilities. We will continue to engage the community in these decisions and we remain committed to working with the Councilmembers to address any concerns they have heard from constituents.

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What the Amazon Headquarters Beauty Contest can teach us about Economic Development

This article has been cross-posted from Strong RI with permission.

The economic development world is all abuzz with last week’s news that Amazon is courting cities for a second headquarters that will match their current, in Seattle, with 50,000 employees and over 8 million square feet of office space. To no one’s surprise, the State of Rhode Island has declared its intention to submit a proposal to lure Amazon’s new offices and tens of thousands of highly paid workers.

Let’s first acknowledge that Rhode Island and Providence aren’t going to win this competition. A quick read-through of the Amazon RFP and a bit of reflection on the recent move of GE to Boston and Amazon’s current headquarters in urban Seattle and it’s clear that the Providence metro area doesn’t have the scale, employment base, public transportation system or any number of other requirements of the proposal. The State and City will no doubt offer a generous package of incentives. But so will dozens of other cities—cities that are larger, with faster growing populations of young college graduates, rapidly improving transit systems, superior bike infrastructure, and urban placemaking projects galore.

But this post isn’t about being negative. I get that the state has to respond to something like this, so I’m not going to dwell on whether that’s a good use of resources. I’m more interested in what this Amazon mega-RFP can teach us about what we need to be doing as a city and state if we want to grow our economy in the 21st century.

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PBN: The state’s 2012 bet on commuter-rail service has yet to pay off. Is it time to privatize?

Wickford Junction Station, image from RIDOT.

“We started a few months ago, doing a deep dive looking into what the MBTA can do, what it can’t do and why,” [RIDOT Director Peter] Alviti said. “Peak periods [are] quite a challenge for them to be able to give us more frequency during rush hours.”

The constriction relates to the design of the MBTA hub at South Station in Boston, according to Devine. It becomes a choke point during rush hours. “Without an expansion in additional capacity and trackage there, it really limits increasing the trains [to Rhode Island], particularly in the peak period,” he said.

Taking over the services themselves, however, would allow RIDOT to contract out the operations to a company that only has to cycle between Wickford Junction and Providence, and which might allow for future expansion.

The article goes on to discuss the need to add housing to the stop at Wickford Junction to provide a built-in client base for the service (true TOD, not a Home Depot and a Walmart) and also the potential for service to Quonset, which is an expanding jobs center.

We’re not going to tear down the $40 million station at Wickford Junction, so how do we make it work?

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Construction starts at Edge College Hill

View from Memorial Blvd. at Washington St., 169 Canal at center.

Press Release from DBVW Architects:


DBVW Architects is working closely with Vision Properties on Edge College Hill, a new mixed-use residential project in downtown Providence at the base of College Hill. Located at 169 Canal Street, this new 15-story high-rise will include 202 micro-loft style apartments and first floor commercial space. Amenities for the residential units include a top floor common room and southwest facing terrace as well as a fitness center and first floor lobby/gathering space.

These modernly furnished apartments will primarily be marketed towards students. Features include over-sized windows, high-end finishes, 9′ 7″ ceilings, fully equipped kitchens and fold-down beds that tuck into contemporary cabinetry when not in use. Residents will be able to choose from views of the Providence skyline, historic College Hill, and the Rhode Island State House.

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Providence City Plan Commission Meeting – August 15, 2017

Providence City Plan Commission Notice of Regular Meeting
Tuesday, August 15, 2017 – 4:45pm
Joseph Doorley Municipal Building, 1st Floor Meeting Room 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Proposed building at 1292 Westminster Street, 4th item on the Agenda. Rendering by ZDS.

cpc-roundOpening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of minutes from July 18, 2017, regular meeting – for action
  • Director’s Report

Minor Subdivision

1. Case No. 17-016MI – 13 Cushing Street (Preliminary Plan) – The applicant is proposing to subdivide a lot in the R-2 zone measuring approximately 10,577 SF into two lots measuring 5,102 SF and 5,475 SF. Continued from the July 18, 2017 CPC meeting – for action (AP 10 Lot 232, College Hill)

2. Case No. 17-032MI – 121 Rutherglen Ave (Preliminary Plan) – The applicant is proposing to subdivide a lot measuring approximately 12,791 SF in the R-1 zone-which has an existing two family dwelling-into two lots measuring 6,531 SF and 6,260 SF. The applicant requires zoning relief for intensifying a nonconforming use by reducing the amount of lot area – for action (AP 61 Lot 320, Reservoir)

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RI Future: La Salle very interested in replacing Providence Water Supply Board building with parking lot

Providence Water Supply Board building, image from Google Street View

As the Providence Water Supply Board moves its administration and customer service offices to its new home at an industrial park off Huntington Ave, questions are being asked about the fate of the iconic building that will soon be empty at 552 Academy Avenue. Rumors were flying that La Salle Academy wants to purchase the property and turn it into a parking lot, and those rumors, it turns out, are true.

[…]

“Let me tell what’s not going to be there if La Salle is fortunate enough to acquire the property,” said [Thomas Glavin, Vice President of Institutional Advancement at La Salle Academy]. “There’s not going to be a middle school there. There’s not going to be a hockey rink there. There’s not going to be a swimming pool there. There’s probably not going to be anything there in the short run. One of the things we’re very concerned about is parking…”

Sigh.

The City has not made any decisions about what to do with the building. There would be an RFP process which LaSalle would have to respond to. Then the matter would go before the Historic District Commission.

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Fane Organization Hope Point Tower on 195 Redevelopment District Commission Agenda Today – July 25, 2017

I-195 Redevelopment District Commission – Public Meeting Notice
A regular meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission will be held at Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, 315 Iron Horse Way, Suite 101, Providence, Rhode Island, on Tuesday July 25, 2017, beginning at 5:00 P.M., for the following purposes:

Rendering of proposed 45-story tower on Parcel 42 by the Fane Organization

195-roundI. Public Session

  1. Welcoming Remarks by Chairperson Azrack.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the Commission Meetings Held on June 19, 2017 and July 10, 2017.
  3. Executive Director’s Report.
  4. Presentation on the proposed development on Parcel 42 by Jason Fane of The Fane Organization.
  5. Presentation by Patricia Adell of Real Estate Solutions Group, LLC regarding the proposed development on Parcel 42 by The Fane Organization.
  6. Public Comment on the proposed development on Parcel 42 by The Fane Organization.
  7. Vote to consider the Level 2 application as submitted by The Fane Organization.
  8. Informational presentation by Christopher Wangro of Zaragunda, Inc. regarding District interim use and programming.
  9. Chairperson’s Report/Agenda for next meeting on Monday, August 21, 2017 at 5:00P.M.
  10. Vote to Adjourn.

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Not the apartment for you

If you go to public hearings on new development projects often enough, you’ll hear a familiar refrain—the apartments are too small, there’s no garden, too little parking, etc.—which boils down to: “I wouldn’t want to live there.” Well, guess what, not everyone wants to live where you do.

Some people live alone, some people have big families; some people like small places that are easy to clean, some are cheap, some have lots of furniture; some people like to garden, some people like to come home from work and watch Netflix, some people drive, some people walk, bike, or take the bus. Well, perhaps, this building isn’t built for you.

Healthy neighborhoods need a range of housing types, from family sized apartments and homes, to micro units and hip bachelor lofts and everything in between. The desire to have other people live the way I do, (“I like to garden. Gardening is important to (my) community. This building has no gardens. Therefore it’s bad for our community”) is a suburban desire. It’s the desire for middle-class conformity and normalcy.

When you travel to other healthy cities around the world (or even in the US), you see the vast array of ways that people are happy to live. I hope that you’ve found a place you like to live; I don’t think it’s helpful to kick away the ladder of other people finding places they may like to live. Guess, what, this apartment isn’t for you.

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The impacts of where we park

A few weeks back my wife and I were walking around the corner of our street on the west side when we noticed that if felt different. On both sides of the street the curbs were parked with cars—our neighbors across the street were having a house party. Typically there are few cars parked on our street, with the consequence that the street feels very wide and cars go speeding down it. But with the street densely parked the drive lanes are narrowed; drivers feel more constrained driving down the street causing them to slow down. Sometimes cars even have to stop to give way to a car going the other way, helping slow traffic on an otherwise quiet residential street with many children and pets. There’s even a name for this kind of street, a “give-way street.”

We saw another example of this phenomena during PVD Fest. The Sunday party in Dexter Training Ground meant that hundreds of cars were parking in the usually vacant on-street parking spaces around the park. Usually Dexter Street and Parade Street feature cars accelerating up the wide drives past a park where children play, but again the parked cars slowed traffic by narrowing the road width, and bonus: put a wall of steel between the moving cars and the sidewalk and park.

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