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CANCELED – Capital Center Commission Meeting – February 12, 2013

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Meeting
Wednesday, February 12, 2013 • 12:00 noon
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903
This meeting has been canceled.


AGENDA

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Approval of Meeting Minutes of December 19, 2013
  3. Election of Officers
    Elect Vice Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer
  4. Design Review Committee Advisory Member Appointment
    Appoint Melvin Bilezerian to the Design Review Committee of the Capital Center Commission (term to expire 6/18)
  5. Amend Capital Center Commission By-Laws
    Amend Section 6: Quorum
  6. State House Parking Lot Lighting
  7. New Business
  8. Adjournment

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Providence Preservation Society 2014 Ten Most Endangered Properties

The Providence Preservation Society has released its annual list of the Ten Most Endangered Properties in Providence. The list will be highlighted with a photo exhibit at their annual meeting tonight.


The List:

57_FEDERAL_STREET_FINAL

All photos by Jesse Burke for PPS.

57 Federal Street (Early 19th Century) Federal Hill
PPS Most Endangered: 2014 Building type: Residential
Threat: Neglect

Among the oldest buildings on Federal Hill, 57 Federal Street is a two story, 5-bay-facade, center hall-plan house with a single interior brick chimney and a central entrance with sidelights, located between Atwells Avenue and Broadway. While Federal- era houses of this style are not uncommon on the East Side of Providence, the Federal Hill neighborhood was largely undeveloped grazing land before 1820. Although 57 Federal Street is likely one of the oldest remaining buildings in the immediate area, it is not included on any historic resource survey, and is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While the existing door head may be a modern replacement, several of the building’s details remain remarkably intact including the building’s clapboards and window sash. Unfortunately, the house has been abandoned for several years, with broken windows on the second story leaving the building completely open to the elements.

In the coming year PPS hopes to better document this unique building, and work with the City of Providence to fully secure the building and address maintenance and safety issues.

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Capital Center Commission Meeting – November 13, 2013

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Meeting
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 • 12:00 noon
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

Agenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    Approval of CCC Special Meeting Minutes of October 17, 2013
  3. Election of Secretary/Treasurer
  4. Ratification of Previous Votes
    Ratification of votes taken at the October 17, 2013 CCC Meeting
  5. State House Parking Issues
  6. Adjournment

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State defiantly moves ahead with surface parking

state-house-parking

In spite of Providence Zoning rules and Capital Center rules forbidding it, the State is moving ahead with plans to expand a surface parking lot on the State House grounds and building a new surface parking lot adjacent to the State House.

ecoRI reports that the Department of Administration (DOA) has already started work on expanding the Assembly Members parking lot on the State House grounds. “Work on the two tiers of new parking to the east of the Statehouse, along Smith Street, will replace 2,000 square feet of grass with some 40 parking spaces.”

Meanwhile, as we discussed in July, the DOA has spent $3.1 million purchasing property along Francis Street next to the Veterans Memorial Auditorium for even more surface parking.

The Chairman of the Capital Center Commission, Deming Sherman is none to happy about all this. Sherman told The Providence Journal that there should be less parking around the State House, not more and that a parking garage should be built behind the DOA building.

When the State restarted the project to expand the parking lot on the State House lawn in June of this year, Sherman contended that the plan had to be submitted to the Capital Center Commission for review, the DOA claims that their authority supercedes the Capital Center Commission (which was created by the State) as well as City zoning.

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Capital Center Commission Meeting – October 17, 2013

featured-capital-center Capital Center Commission Meeting
Thursday, October 17, 2013 – 12:00 NOON
Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building
444 Westminster Street, 1st Floor Conference Room Providence, RI 02903

Agenda

  1. Roll Call
  2. Minutes
    2.1 Approval of Commission Special Meeting Minutes of August 28, 2013
  3. Parking Lot Discussion Discussion regarding parking issues near the State House
  4. Designation of Auditor
  5. FY 2014 Budget
  6. Adjournment


See also: State to pay $3.1 million to buy land for prohibited parking

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State to pay $3.1 million to buy land for prohibited parking

state-house-parcels

Image from Google Maps

As Ted Nesi reported in his Saturday Morning Post and ProJo reports today, the State Properties Committee has agreed to spend $3.1 million acquiring several parcels on Francis Street across from the State House and the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. State officials tell ProJo they would like to turn the land into a parking lot ‘available for visitors to state offices on Smith Hill and patrons of Veterans Memorial Auditorium.’ The Governor’s Director of Administration, Richard Licht, told Ted Nesi, “It may be 25 years or more before we actually put a building on it, but we’ll never get it for a lower price.”

The parcels are within the City’s D-1 zoning designation (as well as in the Capital Center District). D-1 zoning regulation list surface parking as a prohibited use except for as a carefully defined interim use (ephasis mine):

Interim surface parking may be permitted by waiver by the DRC as an interim use so long as it is either accessory to another interim use on the same lot, or to accommodate parking to serve a construction project. Said construction parking shall cease when the construction is complete. Interim Use surface parking lots shall conform to Section 502.2 E.

Why is the State spending money for land to use for a prohibited use? State government has been shrinking, why would we need more parking on Smith Hill? Isn’t there a public garage at the DOT? Isn’t there street parking? Isn’t there parking at the mall? Isn’t the State strapped for cash? Couldn’t people take the RIPTA to Smith Hill? Is there really a parking crisis up there, can people not get their business with the State done due to a lack of parking (I’ve never found that to be the case)?

This would be a fine place for more State offices, but we do not need for it to be a surface parking lot for 25 years.

Oh, and just in case you forgot what state you were in, RINPR reports that most of the parcels in question are owned by former Senate Majority Leader John Hawkins. Isn’t that convenient for the retired Senator?

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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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Guest post: Parking reform should start at the State House

historic-state-house

The State House with a lot less parking. Photo courtesy of the Providence Department of Planning & Development.

Reader James Kennedy writes about reforming parking at the State House. Follow James on Twitter: @TransportPVD.

The State House is a great place to start reforming Providence’s parking crisis. The great map that Jef put up last April shows that the State House contributes considerably to the overwhelming of our downtown space by surface parking.

From the outset, 10% of State House parking lot space should be repurposed as a vegetable and flower garden, which could be run in private-public partnership with the Southside Community Land Trust. Repurposing State House parking will highlight one of the city’s best reasons for optimism, the Land Trust’s Lots for Hope program. Produce from the raised beds could be used to fill food banks around the state, or could be sold at Rhode Island’s farmers’ markets to return a modest revenue boost to the state budget.

The remaining spaces should no longer be free. Legislators and other State House employees should receive a transportation stipend, equal to the amount of money currently being spent on paving a parking spot for them to use. Those who continue to drive to the State House would not lose money, but they will at least be aware that parking is a fiscal choice. But many others will choose to save money by carpooling, taking transit, or biking to the capital. The plan will be revenue neutral to taxpayers, in that it will simply repurpose funds already being spent.

Parking demand will decrease if this plan is put in place, and as it does, the state should gradually remove more spaces to increase the area of the garden. As in Denmark, where cities have committed to remove 2-3% of parking spaces per year to reduce their carbon footprints, the State House could set a per year goal for removal of spots, with the eventual culmination of a parking lot half the size of the current one. The gradual pace of change will allow for other transportation options to be developed.

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