Greater City Providence

Greater City Providence Position on Vista Della Torre Zoning Hearing

Tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 8th at 7:30pm the Zoning Board of Review will hear a petition on variance for the project known as Vista Della Torre on Federal Hill.

TALON REALTY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP AND THE PROVIDENCE HOUSING AUTHORITY, PROPERTY OWNERS AND TALON REALTY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, APPLICANT: 21 & 32 Federal Street at Bradford Street. The applicant is requesting relief from Sections 305, 305.1(10), 418, 420.2 and 425, a dimensional variance, and seeks relief from regulations governing maximum height, minimum lot area per dwelling unit, building lines and articulations and corner setback in order to construct a new building measuring 250 feet in height on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 25, Lot 7 and Parcel B-1 of a previously obtained subdivision (formerly a 4,206 square foot portion of land on the Tax Assessor’s Plat 26, Lot 59) and over that portion of Federal Street between the two lots. This proposal is for 174 residential units with approximately 4,100 square feet of retail space predominately to support the residences, a function room and fitness center for the residents only and 345 parking spaces, 50 of which will be reserved for the Dominica Manor (Lot 59). The maximum height permitted is 45 feet and the minimum lot area per dwelling unit requirement is 1,200 square feet per unit, therefore the requirement for 174 units is 208,800 square feet of land area. The subject property measures a total of 9,626 square feet of land area, not counting the 4,748 square feet air rights component. The applicant proposes to meet the requirements of Section 425 (canopy coverage) off site.

Greater City Providence takes the following position on this proposal:

I am writing on behalf of Greater City Providence in regards to the petition to allow for zoning variances related to the development of a residential building which would be sited at #21 and #32 Federal Street in Federal Hill. We submit that it is premature to consider any ad-hoc zoning variances for this building until the completion of the Federal Hill neighborhood plan in accordance with Providence Tomorrow: The Interim Comprehensive Plan, which was approved by Providence City Council on December 7th, 2007 and by Mayor Cicilline on December 17, 2007.

The site of the proposed building is located in a section of the city which is defined by the comprehensive plan as a Transitional Area (Providence Tomorrow: The Interim Comprehensive Plan, Map 11.1, page 96). The purpose of these Transitional Areas is to “provide a transition in height, density and scale between the larger scale development anticipated in the growth districts and the lower scale and density of surrounding neighborhoods (Providence Tomorrow: The Interim Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 11.1, page 98).

Objective LU 2 of the comprehensive plan states that the vision for Transitional Areas of Providence should be decided by the neighborhood planning process which should be used to “Develop a unified design vision for Growth Districts, Growth Corridors and Transitional Areas identified on Map 11.1 ‘Areas of Stability and Change’ that identifies the preferred pattern and character of development including mass, scale, building height, design, use, and density, and considers topography, streets, sidewalks and open spaces (Providence Tomorrow: The Interim Comprehensive Plan, Chapter 11.1, page 98). Deciding these zoning variance requests before the completion of the neighborhood plan would create a potential conflict with its goals and objectives, as well as the objectives of the comprehensive plan.

If the Zoning Board of Review is responsible for “Ensuring that all zoning variances and special use permits conform to the (comprehensive) Plan” (Providence Tomorrow: The Interim Comprehensive Plan, Appendix D), then no decision on this request should be made until we have confirmation that this development is in accordance with the vision of this Transitional Area of Federal Hill . The creation of this vision should be decided by the Federal Hill neighborhood plan. That is why Greater City Providence believes that it is premature to consider any ad-hoc zoning variances for this building approved at this time. Thank you.

Jef Nickerson, President
Greater City Providence

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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.

Zoning Board of Review meets tomorrow night at 7:30pm, Tuesday, April 8th at Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance Street in the Probate Court Room on the 5th Floor.

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.

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