Greater City Providence

Hope Point Towers, proposed triple-highrise on the Providence Riverfront


I do not have the time or energy right now to even think or comment on this, but I thought I should leave this here to allow everyone else to comment on it.

[alert type=”muted”]See also: The Providence Journal – Reaching for sky in Providence: Proposed high-rises include 55-story tower[/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.


  • Looks like something out of Dubai where there’s a random skyscraper with flat desert surrounding it. It’s very promising to see out of town developers proposing development here but It’s so out of place it almost seems like a joke.

    Hopefully this turns out to be something real and an appropriate design that works with the fabric of the neighborhood is built.

    Having said that, I would definitely support any development that is a bit out of the box.

  • I don’t think it’s as horrible as the people who dislike it think it is. It’s a rendering of an initial concept. I like the brick/concrete leading into glass because the brick cuts off around the same (im assuming) height as Superman, so it kind of blends.. but I do wish the brick/concrete would end up in a different color(s). If this ends up being found unfeasible and denied, I hope the city/195 commission would ask for a scaled down version.. maybe for the 110 westminster st. location… allowing the 195 tax credits to be applied. 110 location is the best spot for a new tallest imo.

  • The design looks like 50 Kennedy Plaza on steroids … and very full of itself.

    I will say, if I took the proposal seriously, there are some nice clean lines here for a residential project. That’s one redeeming feature. But all in all, very 90’s-ish.

    Luckily, I don’t take the notion seriously. The scale isn’t right for Providence. At a third or a quarter of the size, the siting itself would be impressive enough to make this a signature project. Something more like the scale of Waterplace might be appropriate. If THIS many units are required to make the financials work, as the developer has suggested, well, that would seem like a bad sign. But I don’t know a damn thing about any of that.

    Additionally, if a developer is going to ask for variances on a scale like this, the city might reasonably ask for some other concessions in return, like maybe affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

    Anyway, this proposal would be an aggressively ambitious project in Boston. Now, I love Providence, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Not only because I question the demand: hell, it’s the developer’s money to gamble. But I also worry because I suspect a mega-project like this would bleed vivacity out of the rest of the land freed by moving the highway. I would rather see a fully developed Knowledge District than one assemblage of skyscrapers and a bunch of parking lots.

  • There are three facets to this as I see it.

    First, this is a very ambitious proposal, but that is what it takes to get attention to bold thinking. I suspect it is almost double the demand capacity in 2017 but not in 2019 when occupancy will be close. So, the worst case scenario may be towers of 20, 30, and 40 floors. Still a very big opportunity for Providence.

    Second, this proposal, even if ending up at half the current rendering, adds significant fuel to further development of the I-Way parcels and beyond. Boston is reaching its maximum capacity for new condo development and Providence will max out in new apartment structure capacity by 2018. As in the past, the developers will now look to PVD – as evidenced by this proposal.

    Third, this is exactly what is needed to jolt the “little town” thinkers in PVD into the realization that PVD is New England’s second largest city and center of New England’s second largest metro – 1.6 million person Providence Metro (from Westerly to New Bedford). And that tall buildings and high density belong in Providence. No more ” too big, too tall” objections!!!

    Those of us who ascribe to this need to lobby hard for this proposal’s success.

  • To answer Dude, approx 1,000 units…most condo, some rentals.

    To address the design, this just an original rendering – they are always revised.

  • Yea I agree with Steve, no more “it doesn’t fit” or “it’s too big”, this is GOLD for ANY city and Providence should always have the notion of GO big or Go home. The rest of the i-way land will fill in with more developments. Providence never gets anything like his, not since 110 Westminster and that vanished in the blink of an eye. If this is built, Boston will surely be looking over it’s shoulder. I’m tired of Rhode Islands thinking were not good enough for big boy projects. Save me the scale talk and support this beauty.

  • I wouldn’t mind this project completely as it is right now, I think the rest of the 195 land filling in with development will balance it all out.

    I figured it was 1,000 units. How many residential units at Wexford, South Street Landing, Chestnut Commons, Superman (if conversion happens) and all the other projects currently planned? We should be stoked that Providence is about to add ~?1,500?~ apartments and condos. That would be what… like 4,000 more people living downtown? Bringing the total to 10,000 full-time downtown residents? Someone help me with the numbers if you have specifics, but the point is that this would be a game changer for the downtown core.

    Also, there are 900 residential units planned for the East Providence waterfront (Kettle Point, Village on the Waterfront) and even more room near the Wilkes Barre Pier for more development. Eventually that will become an annex of downtown Providence with its own ferry landing.

    Providence is getting bigger, more cosmopolitan, with greater density. You can’t stop that. A 195 Commission that drags its feet is violating its charter, it needs to be an invisible hand, not an extension of the developer itself. Get it done!!!

  • Agree completely with KCB. It just feels like to get the ball in motion for potential future 195 land developments, something like this needs to happen. It’s been long enough, the city needs to take control and get growing. Enough complaints about traffic – just no.

  • The developer was a basically a slum landlord who started with a bunch of student apartments in Ithaca NY. He was my landlord in the 70’s when I was at Cornell. He has come a long way; but not sure we can take this too seriously. Can’t see him getting the money to pull this off since he has a limited portfolio and this is way out of his league. Not afraid of tall buildings; but these should be on the other side of Dyer Street. Low buildings on the Park and tall buildings backing them up. Otherwise you are putting the largest 195 parcel in constant shadow with no views of the river.

  • gar is essentially correct.

    But, Fane is not unlike most NYC developers and this PVD project would surely be its biggest.

    As I stated earlier, he is grabbing prime land for a development that fits whatever 2018 demand is in PVD. While I hope for the proposal as is, I suspect it will end up as 20, 30, and 40 floor towers.

    Again I say, go for it but hold him accountable to build within 18 months of purchase/contract signing.

  • Too bad the streetcar was killed. Will the proposed Downtown Transit Corridor be enough to serve this project if fully built out, along with other Downtown developments?

    People often worry about scale. When the Industrial Trust Building was constructed in the late 20s, the scale was far greater than anything else in the city at that time. The building changed the scale of the city and became a major city icon, as it still is today. The same would be true with the Hope Point Towers project.

    The developers indicated that the towers would likely be phased, which would help with absorption. It was also mentioned that besides a supermarket, a hotel could be part of the development.

    This project could become a catalyst for other high density development throughout the Downtown area. Downtown Providence is a highly desirable place where people want to live. The truth is that no one really knows how many apartments are too many.

    If the developer’s due diligence indicates that the project would pencil-out and that they can raise the funds, then let them build, keeping in mind that rarely do projects end up looking like initial renderings.

  • I’m all for it. I wouldn’t mind a redesign but honestly it’s not the worst thing ever, get rid of those white rectangle sections and we’re good. Glad to hear the parking will be inside the building above retail, I mean that alone is a great start. Will echo Peter about the street car though. Maybe more residential density could revive the idea of a new transit system again one day. If I lived in that area I could imagine taking the street car to KP, incredibly convenient.

  • They need to get this done with a quick close, and hold the developer accountable punitively if they do not meet promised milestones. If this deal gets done, the Wexford project, Chestnut Commons, 4 new hotels, South Street Landing, Cove #2, and the project on Canal Street near Fat Belly’s will all be on-going simultaneously. Now, that’s the cranes in the sky that we are talking about.

  • I dont know what that means…Providence can do great things and has the history to prove it.

  • Their Toronto tower is beautiful. 195 commish should contact W hotels if this project might include a hotel btw…

  • To answer Anthony…

    The players that need to be contacted – that is letters sent – are in order of importance:
    – The I-195 Redevelopment Commission (all members)
    – The Jewery District Association Providence
    – Mayor Elorza
    – Providence City Council (all members)
    – Governor Remondo
    – The Providence delegation in the RI House and Senate

    And KCB is correct…we can soon be in a major “cranes in the sky” period – momentum is everything.

  • Peter B,

    So I’m going to quibble with you. But before I do that, have a look at this picture:

    Beautiful, and perhaps you’ve seen it before, or others like it. In fact, I’m sure you have.

    So in answer to your post, yes, you are right to say that Superman dwarfs anything to be seen in that image (or the Biltmore, etc.). But I don’t feel like the Superman/this project comparison is valid. Note a key point: if you look at the picture I linked, what you see is the thriving, bustling, heavily trafficked and urbanized commercial core of the city. Not at all the same case as this new tower proposal.

    Perhaps in 2020 the old Jewelry District will be a thriving bustling neighborhood, but right now it’s nothing but a wasteland with a lot of potential. How much potential? Well, that’s totally speculative, and it’s the developer’s money to bank on the answer to that question. But I feel like people are justified to have reservations in this case.

    So I guess my big problem here is not *simply* scale, “it’s too big!” blah blah blah. My problem here is the cart-before-the-horse development strategy. Superman was far bigger than anything else in the city when it was built, but there was obviously a TON of demand at that spot, the nexus of the entire urban area. The demand here … not so evident. And for this project to come to fruition, we’re talking about a LOT of demand.

    Or to put a famous line another way: IF you build it, WILL they come?

    Again, I have to ask, does the developer, as he claims, really NEED this many units to turn a profit off this parcel? I feel like that’s a very important question.

  • The cranes in the sky will arrive when the attitudes that prevent the city from moving into the future are washed away. PVD has an insane fixation with architectural preservation that doesn’t allow for the proper incorporation of different building types, heights, textures, etc. Again, the PVD of 2016 just doesn’t have what it takes to be great.

  • I say again, while I agree with Papi’s “…when the attitudes that prevent the city from moving into the future are washed away. PVD has an insane fixation with architectural preservation that doesn’t allow for the proper incorporation of different building types, heights, textures, etc. ”

    I strongly disagree with “the PVD of 2016 just doesn’t have what it takes to be great.”

    This project is an example of a game changing opportunity to do just that. The economic pressure on the Governor, Mayor and other political leaders, employment pressure on the labor unions, and a general desire for a “pop” for the district and city will all mass to move this.

    The open questions are 1) will the demand realities reduce the scale (I suspect yes by 25-30%) and 2) will the I-195 Commission and city approve the scale and set a building guarantee requirement (a must).

    You want it — write to the folks in my eariler post.

  • Is it really anyone of our concerns that the developer “needs this many units to turn a profit”? — this is his proposal, bottom line.

    Does negotiating DOWN his proposal help us? The answer is no, it reduces the tax base when the tax stabilization program finally ends. It reduces density even though we’ve sacrificed our current skyline.

    Argue about aesthetics all you want, but drawing a line in the sand on height or volume is ridiculous. Nobody hear has done the DD that this developer has done. He believes there is or will be demand. If this project existed, or other like it — maybe GE moves its HQ here. Without large residential projects in the downtown core, we will not attract top tier companies.

    We should be marketing the land FOR large, skyscraper type projects. This is how we will FINALLY add some tax base security for the future. Tax stabilization agreements eventually roll off, and we will be left with a nice cushion for any oscillation of tax revenues. We are finally profitable as a City again, let’s double down and make sure we never see the red again. Providence can be a lot better when 10,000 people (or more) live downtown.

    I hope that the skyscraper proposals keep coming. The lot at Victory Place owned by Lifespan, 110 Westminster, parcels near the Citizens Bank building, other 195 parcels, ANY and ALL surface parking lots, etc. Build up on all of them. This is the only way to protect us from another massive economic downturn where municipal bankruptcy is actually discussed. OR, do nothing and cut all tax breaks to colleges and universities. Just don’t do both. Personally, I want both of these things done.

  • As much as I wish this proposal was closer to the financial district to improve the skyline density, I still totally for it. It’ll look beautiful in person and tie in the other proposals in the area nicely. Alone with the pedestrian bridge as well, it’s gonna be one hot spot for Realestate. This link has a diagram showing some scale to existing providence high rises for comparison.

  • I like that the brick/concrete portion of this initial concept ends right about where Superman is topped off as well.. its like the old city exists in this new proposal up until Superman’s height… and then we have glass for the portion of the tower that will make it the tallest in the city, representing new growth and hopefully another breath of life for the city.

    I’ve never actually contacted anyone in the city or state to support a project and show that there is public support for it.. but I’m down to help out if other people are in.

  • Providence is only 20 square miles, we have to build up and enough with this small capital feel, we should have been a major city via the industrial revolution, we got screwed by corruption, we are an ocean city we can have it all, except more flat space, build up up up!!!

  • I should certainly think it WOULD BE a concern if the the developer, as he claims, needs anywhere NEAR this many units to turn a profit on the site. Of course that’s ultimately his business … but if there’s any substance to his claim at all, surely you understand that he raises some very serious questions about the cost of building in Providence (generally) and building on this parcel (particularly)?

    If that doesn’t bother you, that’s your business. 🙂

    Anyway, I do hope this was just a high opening bid. I would be very happy, as I said, with something more on the scale of Waterplace. And again, given the siting, something on that scale would still sit very impressively on this parcel.

    So I like the attempt at clean lines and the glass. I really really hope that’s not supposed to be red brick. Dear god, anything but more red brick here …

  • Again, there is a time and place for everything. Towers should not be allowed to dominate the park and shed shadows over other valuable 195 parcels. This is not good planning or urban design practice. Towers are fine. They just need to be on the other side of Dyer Street or at the opposite end of the corridor along 95. The views will still be there. Just not at the expense of a public park & a larger parcel that can more easily support this kind of density and is closer to proposed parking.

  • If your tallest building in the city has been the tallest since the 1930s, that to me shows a huge problem in growth. Do to this projects location, I can see the scale problem and wish to be waterplace size, but at the end of the day we can’t pass up these opportunities.

  • gar makes some good points, but the park concern is exactly why large scale projects are problematic in PVD.

    First, this is a very ambitious proposal, I suspect it may end up to be towers of 20, 30, and 40 floors. And in any event, that is no different than three 5 floor buildings on that parcel…they block a view of the park and river from Dyer Street. So what? People have full access to the park and river and pedestrian bridge. Enough already.

    Second, this proposal adds significant fuel to further development of the I-Way parcels and beyond.

    Third, this is exactly what is needed to jolt the “little town” thinkers in PVD into the realization that PVD is New England’s second largest city and center of New England’s second largest metro – 1.6 million person Providence Metro (from Westerly to New Bedford). And that tall buildings and high density belong in Providence.

    This could be used to fuel downtown expanding south to this point…a good thing. Raise the permissible height from Westminster south to Point Street to 300 feet…with exceptions up to 600.

    Frankly, I am over the “park” cry…PVD has plenty of great parks. No more!

  • Neither the developer nor officialdom seems to have a clue how city living actually works.

    I would love to live in high rise apartment in Providence. What I love way more is being able to walk in a few minutes through engagingly pleasant environs to most of what I routinely need.

    Leaving my door at Hope Point I could immediately visit a supermarket or a riverfront park. So far so good! But any other direction offers practically nothing but 10, 15 or more minutes of walking alongside traffic sewers past parking garages and lots.

    I guess they expect a tower full of residents who will be happy they can drive to EZ shopping in Seekonk, Warwick or Attleboro! Love that highway access!

  • As state leaders consider a New York developer’s proposal to build three residential high-rise towers on former highway land, the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission hopes a financial feasibility study it has commissioned will be ready by its next regular meeting, set for Dec. 12.

    The commission will pay $10,000 for the study to Real Estate Solutions Group, of Princeton, N.J., according to Commission spokeswoman Dyana Koelsch.


    Asked whether he had lined up bank financing, Fane did not specifically answer. He told The Journal he would get a construction loan, which requires equity. Asked how much he would invest in the project, Fane said it “depends what’s necessary,” but he said the high-rise tower he has built in Toronto, Canada, did very well, “So I’ve got cash.”

    ‘Trust me, I got cash’

  • I haven’t seen any multiplier effect numbers for this project but it seems that everyone is agreeing that this will be over 3,000 residents (conservatively). Each spending at least $10,000 in the Providence area, that’s $30mm in annual economic impact to Providence just from presence. Not taking into account any tax revenue effects such as sales tax, food and beverage tax, tangible tax, corporate tax, resident individual income tax, state capital gains tax of new residents, etc.

    If they are granted a 10 year *full* tax stabilization plan — which they won’t — more likely to be graduated schedule. In year 11, Providence would have over $500mm in new taxable property (very conservatively) — let’s call it $700mm to be more fair. $700m x $36/$1000 commercial tax rate = $25,200,000 annual City property taxes. I believe I saw something once that said Brown *should* be paying $35mm per year on its property. So if they took the entire tax annual payment and applied it to current residents, everyone would get at least a minimum $500 reduction in annual property taxes. So, let’s not pretend that these new rich residents of the Hope Point Towers are being subsidized by current residents in perpetuity.

    Third, they should start the tax stabilization from the day that the Purchase & Sales agreement is signed. Incentivize this developer to get the project done and occupied. Something that nobody is talking about is security for the riverfront park — Hope Point will likely have on-site security and they should be asked to patrol the park to make it safer for everyone.

    I’m so excited about this project, but I would like to see commitment from the City and State to do this project, Wexford, and Superman at the SAME TIME. They will change Providence for the better and the entire State will share in the benefits of a strong Capital city. This is the push that we need to increase downtown core population, and push the total city over 200,000 residents. To be sustainable, we can’t continue to grow at +/- 1%.

  • The negativity is annoying? So is all the rah-rah boosterism. Anyone trying to raise any criticism of this project, however valid, immediately gets shouted down by a chorus of boo-birds.

    As if it were unreasonable to have objections. It is not.

    Look, proposals come and go. Some reach fruition, many don’t. As noted by several commenters above, we’ve seen this circus before. I’m still sad that 110 Westminster didn’t get built: that building would’ve been one sexy beast. C’est la vie.

    So let’s just see what happens next, mmkay?

    I do like the idea to start the tax stabilization at the sale.

  • Is there a chance that the other two towers become phase 2/3? Are they building the pedestal and ground infrastructure to accommodate future dev? Or is one tower Fane’s total vision?

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