Greater City Providence

ProJo: Hotel among three projects rejected by Route 195 land commission


The developer preparing to renovate the old South Street Power Station near Davol Square into nursing schools, university offices and apartments proposed buying a nearby parcel of former Route 195 land for as much as $2.25 million to build a 150-room hotel, potentially a Starwood Hotels property.

But the bid by CV Properties, which has offices in Southport, Conn., and Boston, is among three proposals rejected by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, which released the proposals to The Providence Journal in response to a request for records.

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  • Please help me understand why a 12 story hotel or office tower would be rejected?!!!!!!!

  • I have to admit this is surprising. It has all the checkmarks of things that I195 was supposed to preference.

    1) Owns and/or is developing an adjacent property? Check.
    2) Full use of allowed height? Check.
    3) Use consistent with whats described in expensive consultant/marketing materials? Check.
    4) Likely (though this is less clear) prepared to quickly break ground based on major construction/development about to go underway nearby? Check.
    5) Creates both jobs and property tax revenue for the city? Check.

    I have no idea if this is a good plan, but the details we know are very consistent with the kind of project everyone has said they want. Additionally, filling in along Dyer Street should be a huge priority because it’s the entry (by foot across the bridge and park) to the I195 land in a lot of ways. With the medical school, South Street Power Station, Park, and Continuing Education, Dyer Street would be posed to be seen as a really successful cluster in an area that was relatively abandoned until recently.

  • Maybe it was rejected because of an administrative issue – something as simple as a missing or incomplete element in the proposal.

  • One would presume, for purposes of maintaining positive morale for the entire 195 project and marketing the rest of the available parcels to prospective developers, that it would be a high priority to get shovels in the ground as soon as possible for a conforming proposal (like this) in a highly visible location (like this). So one certainly has to wonder about the rejection of said conforming proposal for inscrutable reasons.

    A little transparency wouldn’t hurt at times like these.

  • Transparency indeed!!!

    The commissioner needs to approve anything that is near shoval ready and encourage tall large structures that produce a tax base.

  • Again…is there any vehicle whereby the reasons can be exposed?

    Push the Prjo or WPRO’s I-Team?

  • Again…is there any vehicle whereby the reasons can be exposed?

    Push the Projo or WPRO’s I-Team?

  • Do we really need another hotel that will require a ton of parking? With the Westin, Renaissance, Marriott, dean, hampton inn and the proposed, extended stay downtown, im not sure a hotel is the best and highest use for any of these parcels.

  • Well, first, it is taxable property.
    Second, it adds to density.
    Third, I believe the city is running at over 95% hotel occupancy now.
    Fourth, assuming commercial devlopment in the area, there will be a need for a hotel in that area.

    I just wish we could know WHY it was rejected.

  • I have a hard time buying 95 % occupancy when the biltmore is largely empty and discounted rooms are found easily on travel sites. That definitely doesnt contribute to density.

    Just because a project is taxable, doesnt mean it has to be approved. I agree that id like to see the commissions reasoning, but I just dont see a hotel being a good idea here.

  • Why would a hotel need a ton of parking? It seems like a hotel would be one of the least parking-intensive uses for the site. Residents would have cars; workers and shoppers would drive in from suburbs. Travelers are more likely to use transit, cabs, ridesharing, carsharing, or just walk; if they want to rent a car and drive everywhere they are more likely to stay in a suburban hotel with gobs of free parking.

  • Werent they on the verge of bankruptcy recently? Im guessing thats a result of a lack of visitors.

    @mp youre assuming that people will fly in and use rideshare. A lot of people drive to their destinations, especially families. A lot of travellers, mostly the older set, arent savvy enough to use uber etc. Franchise hotels demand parking to stay competitive with suburban locations. Unrealistic to assume a hotel wont ask for parking space.

  • They were on the verge of bankruptcy and the property has since been acquired by a new owner that is in the process of a long overdue renovation of the guest rooms.

    I have heard that some travelers are turned off by the small size of their rooms, the market for some reason demands large rooms for the act of sleeping. The rooms being rather long in the tooth compounded their small size.

    My understanding is Providence hotels are largely booked much of the time with rooms impossible to get in town at times such as college check-ins and check-outs, Waterfire nights, during conventions, etc. But even without these large events, vacancy is quite low.

    I also think Providence is a city that still demands parking, but parking is much more flexible with hotels. They are largely valeted so don’t need to be directly on site, can be stacked, etc. And there are a surprising number of people who arrive in Providence without a car, just not as many as one would see in New York or Boston.

  • Presumably both commercial activity in the I195 land as properties are built and the growing medical education cluster (PA school that J&W are planning for Pine Street, Alpert Med School, + Nursing at South Street) may be attractive to a new set of conferences and professional travelers that could be well served by a hotel there. Add the fact that it’s really only about 1.5-2miles from the train station and KP and near the water front with its new park and pedestrian bridge to make it an easy walk to Brown proper and it seems like its a great spot for a hotel.

    Sure, it seems like there are plenty of hotels. I’ve expressed my own skepticism on this site that the bottom on that market will fall out soon, most recently with the extended hotel at Fogarty (although admittedly this is wisely going after a slightly different and underserved market). However, look at the Dean, which has had no problem filling up.

    I think it may not be a massive success from day one, but it’d likely be successful over the next 20 years as the JD fills in more and is an equally attractive location as say Hotel Providence. Hotels are great from a tax collection and job creation perspective. I’m sure they’re easier to redevelop into apartments or condos if the market shifts than many other uses. I’d be far more concerned with building 40,000 square feet of lab space than hotels.

  • Agree.

    So we have come full circle…the operative question is – Is there any way that the public can get WHY it was rejected?

  • I am not sure why a FIOA request wouldn’t yield the results. Just the threat of it might get them to tell you what you want to know. I don’t understand why it wouldn’t be public information. I’ve never actually requested one myself, but they are really SOP in a lot of areas. I don’t think you need to be special, like writing for a news outlet or anything to file one.

  • “I just dont see a hotel being a good idea here.”

    That’s one opinion, but somebody felt differently, as hotel is one of the recommended uses for this site.

  • Is there anything to be said for putting permanent housing on the site, rather than a hotel? Is there any way of knowing if there was a proposal received for an apartment building, for instance? Personally, when it comes to development, what matters to me is form rather than function. I agreed with what Jef said in the post on the CVS, that we essentially shouldn’t care if something is a dollar store if it’s built the way it needs to be in order to be reused by something else if it goes belly-up. I guess on the list of things that matter to me most, a hotel might not top the list, but I also can’t think of anything at all objectionable about it.

    Just drawing attention here–Jef, did you seriously say we need more parking? (Et tu, Brute?)

  • James, it’s doubtful there was an apartment use submitted for the site. The same developer is creating student-focused housing as part of the South Street Power Station project.

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