Greater City Providence

Comment on the Old Public Safety Complex


Workers removing decorative facade elements from the Old Public Safety Complex on July 12, 2007.

Dear Members of the Providence ZBR:

Greater City Providence writes today to vigorously oppose The Procaccianti Group’s application before you, requesting a use variance to turn this potentially salvageable historic building into a temporary parking lot. Putting aside a moment conflicting reports of how damaged the building is and whether any part of it can be saved in the designs of a new building, the idea that the city would yet again allow a building to come down and be turned into surface parking is simply unacceptable for many reasons.

The City, especially the Department of Planning & Development, has been working hard over the past year to plan first, with the neighborhood planning process, Providence Tomorrow and the revamped Comprehensive Plan. Creating a gigantic hole at the top of Downcity goes against everything we all have been working on. One of the universal truths to come out of the Providence Tomorrow Charrettes was overwhelming support of reducing the number of surface parking lots across the city. Why would the city allow yet another one to be built, if even for a week? Parking lots do not add anything to the urban fabric of the city; in fact they tear the fabric, making it dangerous for pedestrians, encourage heat island effect and pollution (both air and water), create blank and useless spaces, and are ugly. People do not come to Providence to live, work and play because of the plethora of parking lots; they come to see architecture and eat at renowned restaurants and participate in the urban life with WaterFire, P-Bruins, and more.

Greater City Providence is certainly not opposed to a fabulous, urban, important, useful building at this site if indeed it is determined that there’s no way any part of the old Public Safety Complex can be salvaged, however at no time will we concede to supporting yet another parking lot.

Greater City Providence promotes the growth and development of the Greater Providence region in as urban a pattern as possible. Special emphasis is placed on the development of more walkable, affordable, and vibrant neighborhoods that are served by more robust mass transit and fueled by greater economic opportunity. Our primary focus is participating in the zoning and planning process to ensure that the Providence of the future is an urban environment and not a city plagued by inconsistent, uninspired, automobile-centric, and suburban-style development.

For the reasons listed above, we ask you deny this application for a surface parking lot.

[alert type=”muted”]Related:
The Providence Journal: Procaccianti going before Zoning Board to demolish old Police and Fire Headquarters
Not For Nothing blog, The Providence Phoenix: Demolition destined for old Prov police station?[/alert]

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


Providence, RI
Partly Cloudy
5:29 am8:14 pm EDT
Feels like: 88°F
Wind: 6mph W
Humidity: 43%
Pressure: 29.97"Hg
UV index: 8
86°F / 70°F
81°F / 68°F
75°F / 68°F