Greater City Providence

Report: Grove Street School Demo Permit Issued

Tweet from GoLocalProv’s Dan McGowan:

Sought comment from the city, of course it happens to be Friday after 4pm…

Merry Christmas.


Previous posts about Grove Street School.

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.


  • Of course it is 4 pm on a Friday. I’m almost surprised they didn’t wait to do it over the holiday weekend next week, but then I guess they’d have to pay more. And let me guess, the city is paying for the demo too, and Michael Tarro not only is getting his job back, but he’s getting back pay and some kind of restitution?

    Merry Christmas everyone–enjoy your trash strewn lot which probably won’t even be paved over. Last turn of the century neighborhood school house, which could have been renovated and turned into a neighborhood asset, will be gone.

    I suspect this has gone on long enough now that no one really gives a rat’s ass except me and Jef and Kari (and hopefully anyone else who thought that this Mayor would do things differently,) and folks will forget that there were buyers for this building several times over the last 10+ years, and will forget in a year when Tarro runs for re-election that he broke the law time and time again when he was being paid by Providence taxpayers to uphold the law, and folks will conveniently forget that THIS administration was the one who finally pulled the trigger and signed the demo permit on this special little building that residents and preservationists wanted to save.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same, huh?

  • The Mayor’s press secretary confirmed that there is a demo permit for Grove Street School. I’m told the Mayor is disappointed that the school could not be saved.

    Here’s my take, I agree with the assessment that it is disappointing that the school could not be saved. I will lay some blame at the current mayor for the bullshit emergency demo nonsense surrounding Hurricane Irene. Prior to that there was some hope that the remainder of the school could be salvaged, but once that demo permit was issued (then pulled), and more of the building was torn away at, we’re left with not much to save.

    Could the school still be saved? Sure, it is physically possible that someone could come in and fix the remaining building and make something of it. In the current economic climate though… no, it is a lost cause.

    I don’t want to apologize for the current administration (Hurricane Irene bullshit), but the lions share of the blame really lies with the prior administration. The building was originally illegally (partially) demo’d under the prior administration. Mayor Cicilline made a big show of showing up and being “outraged” “OUTRAGED!!!!!”, but then Michael Tarro remained on his payroll, and the city never forced Tarro to properly secure the building (which would have made it more realistically salvageable today).

    At the end of the day, if I had to have a conversation with an abutter about the building, my conversation would be littered with “ifs.” If Tarro had not illegally partially demo’d the building. If Mayor Cicilline’s administration had forced Tarro to properly secure the partially demo’d building (and/or if he had collected the requisite fines). If Mayor Taveras’ administration had not created a situation whereby even more of the building was partially demolished. If the economy at this point allowed for someone to realistically be able to rehab the partially demolished building (or if the repeatedly partially demolished building was capable of being secured at this point). If the Tarro’s had sold the building to any of the people who were interested in it over the last decade. If, if, if…

    Really, if I owned a house abutting that property, I might be liable to be pressuring the Mayor to have it torn down. I can completely identify with those people who are done dealing with it and want it gone.

    People react to what they see, it is our government leaders job to rise above individual needs and look out for the best interests of the community as a whole. The Cicilline and Taveras administrations both failed us in this case.

    Blame also has to lie with that community as well though. The residents of this District elected Michael Tarro to General Assembly in a fair and open election, after all he did to illegally demolish this property and create blight in this community. The residents of this District, among which I myself am a member, deserve what we got. We’ll have some horrid trash strewn surface lot now, or some weed filled trash strewn lot, whatever, it is what we deserve if this is the person we elected, or at the least we could not find someone better among us to represent us.

  • i think jef is right. here we have a community that voted Rep. Tarro into office – despite what he did to this building. and on the other side we have a Mayor who – for the first time – actually went to the site and stopped the shenanigans and then kicked this guy off his payroll. now, despite what the Mayor did, the building has to come down. blame who you want Jen, but you may want to look around first before throwing that first stone.

  • Well, actually, Mayor Taveras went to the building to stop shenanigans after his administration issued a demo permit, then when people found out about it, made up some story about it needing to come down because of a hurricane.

    Had the administration not issued that demo permit, there would have been no shenanigans to stop, and in fact, arguably, since the City issued a demo permit (then pulled it) one could say there were no shenanigans (personally, I say there were shenanigans all around that weekend).

    As for Jen, this is Rhode Island so anything’s possible, but I’m sure Jen did not come up from Virginia to cast a vote for Michael Tarro.

  • Channel 12 says that the mayor’s office said that the permit was “issued earlier in the week.” And yet, we didn’t find out about it until after 4 on a Friday? You can’t tell me that someone just forgot to send out a press release or an announcement until close of business on Friday?

    Look, there is plenty of blame to go around, but I will not blame the community. Tarro was elected to his position of legislator long after the damage was done to that building.

    As someone who owned property there (in fact was an abuttor) and who was physically threatened more than once on this and other neighborhood issues, I can tell you that politics on Federal Hill is ugly and it doesn’t surprise me that no one could or would successfully run against him.

    The history of this building is long and not pretty and it is sad and full of anger and disappointment, on both sides. It didn’t have to turn out this way, but it wasn’t the neighborhood not doing their part that got Grove Street School to this point.

  • Tarro is yet another corrupt Federal Hill pol who’s taken advantage of every connection, every loophole, every scam he can to demolish this building. Since it is fait accompli, how about a truly inspired action. Once that worthless idiot pays for the demolition and removal of the debris, deny ALL building permits for anything other than a public park (and NOT PARKING LOT), paid for entirely by Tarro. No park, no anything, period. Either that or an eminent domain taking at rock bottom compensation. Of course, neither will happen because, Providence being Providence, the criminal will get his way yet again…

  • The city should most definitely deny any use permit for a parking lot. That’s the whole reason the Tarros want it anyway. They want parking for the funeral home (if they’ve gotten by this long without having that extra lot, how necessary is it?). The lot will sit vacant until the Tarros can get the city to relent and allow them to use it as a parking lot because neighbors will complain that it’s just collecting litter.

  • It’s one thing to write of our disappointment here, better to write on the Mayor’s contact page:

    I just did, as much about their weak record on maintaining the city’s urban fabric as about the demolition itself. Let the administration know how you feel.

  • Little point of information, when the funeral home’s management changed hands some years ago, the management company said many times over, they did not need the extra parking. Turning that school into a parking lot hasn’t been discussed in at least 5 years, maybe more.

    Yet another reason why tearing the building down made zero sense in the first place, coupled with the fact that there were very interested parties wanting to buy it and turn it into a neighborhood asset.

  • Spite. They’ll probably leave the lot vacant and pay the taxes for decades to punish the neighborhood. This saga is not rational.

  • AP reports demolition is underway.

    Tarro says the building is a hazard. He says he has no immediate plans for redevelopment but wants to create something “more pleasing” for the community.

    You know what would have been “more pleasing” for the community? Selling the building to one of the people who made offers to buy and renovate it rather than illegally tearing it down.

  • I don’t know why I continue to read things and risk my brain exploding, but this, from the AP via

    “The building coming down is the only thing that could have ever occurred,” [Michael Tarro] told The Associated Press. “If I couldn’t rehabilitate it, no one could.”


    I mean, really!! Really!

    Amy and Seth say:


    Tarro, a Democrat who represents Providence, said he values the structure’s historic character but that the building had become a hazard.

    No, no you don’t value the building’s historic character, you know how I know that? Because if you did you would not have attempted to illegally tear it down to build a PARKING LOT!

    Everyone who lives in District 8 knows Mr. Tarro has a Democratic Primary challenger, right?

  • He gives Providence residents so little credit for anything, just assuming that they forgot that it was at his family’s behest that the building was first attacked by thugs connected with the family wielding spray paint cans and sledge hammers, then the first illegal demo in Feb of 07, then the second and third illegal demo this past summer…THAT is why the building was unstable. And experts agreed that even after the FIRST illegal demo, the building was completely sound.

    How the city was unable to win this case in either the actual court, or even the court of public opinion is beyond my understanding.

    I hope Libby makes this a talking point in her campaign, to remind folks how Tarro treats the residents of the district with zero respect.

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