As RIPTA prepares to start running their new Rapid Bus service next month on North Main Street, the City Plan Commission is hearing a proposal to knock down a building to create 300 parking spaces on the street at the Pawtucket line.
Case No. 14-009MA – 1300 North Main Street The applicant is proposing to demolish an existing building to create a parking lot providing 300 spaces. The lot will serve a health club on an adjacent lot located in the City of Pawtucket
The building being considered for demolition is the old Sears building at the corner of North Main and White Streets across from Gregg’s (The Down Under Duck Pin bowling alley is on this site too, but I feel like it has already been demo’d? Art In Ruins does not say so).
This building would be removed to make way for 300 parking spaces in the City of Providence for an LA Fitness location being built mainly in Pawtucket at the corner of Ann Mary Street.
So, here we are again.
There’s so many things in my head right now, what to say first?
How about first I get some positives out of the way, then we’ll dig into it. The proposed LA Fitness is at least built to both North Main and Ann Mary Streets, and the parking lot allows for it to be further developed at a later date. Right, with that out of the way…
300 parking spaces!? Are you for serious? All I can think of is CarFreePVD’s habit of retweeting people complaining about being stuck in traffic on the way to spin class.
I'm so p'd off .. I'm going to miss my spin class because of sodding traffic!!!!! Ahhhhhhhh ???? #stressed
— Cloe Justice (@CL03JUS) March 13, 2014
At the risk of getting too Sim City, there’s already a lot of parking up there y’all.
There is the fact that owners can only develop what they own, but deals can be made. Is there parking in the area that could be used? Could utilizing off-site parking be a lesser expense for the owner? Could the land proposed for parking be put to a higher use if some more thought was put into a parking and transportation plan?
But back up a second, there’s also the fact that they propose to build a building on a currently vacant lot, then tear down an existing building to provide parking for the building they’re putting on the vacant lot? Does that not sound crazy?
I know these chains feel like they have ‘proven business models’ about where the parking needs to be, and how ugly their building needs to be but… A mega-gym could not fit into the existing former Sears building? It would make Pawtucket cry because the building will generate more property tax than parking, and if we flipped the plan, Pawtucket would lose. But the environment would win, we wouldn’t be throwing a building into the trash.
No thought of striving for more intense density on site?
It is a one-story ugly box with weird bits hanging off it and pretty much no windows. North Main is a major arterial with the state’s highest performing bus line on it, adjacent to a large employer (Miriam) and not too far from a major university, in a city that lacks affordable housing. Build a 4-story box, hell, build a 10-story box with housing and a fitness center below.
This is another kind of box being built a little further south on North Main Street.
This is what should be being built along this corridor, this and bigger versions of it. It should not even be economically feasible to build a one-story box. The land should be too valuable for such low-density use, and it should be far too valuable for parking.
But we’ve spent the last 50-years turning North Main into the traffic sewer it is today, so the land there does not hold any great value. No one wants to live there, no one wants to work there, people want to drive there as fast as they can and hope they don’t get stuck in traffic on the way to spin class. The roadway is its own self-fulfilling prophecy. As long as we view it as a place for our ugly things, it will remain a place for ugly things.
What do we want to do?