Greater City Providence

Not the apartment for you

If you go to public hearings on new development projects often enough, you’ll hear a familiar refrain—the apartments are too small, there’s no garden, too little parking, etc.—which boils down to: “I wouldn’t want to live there.” Well, guess what, not everyone wants to live where you do.

Some people live alone, some people have big families; some people like small places that are easy to clean, some are cheap, some have lots of furniture; some people like to garden, some people like to come home from work and watch Netflix, some people drive, some people walk, bike, or take the bus. Well, perhaps, this building isn’t built for you.

Healthy neighborhoods need a range of housing types, from family sized apartments and homes, to micro units and hip bachelor lofts and everything in between. The desire to have other people live the way I do, (“I like to garden. Gardening is important to (my) community. This building has no gardens. Therefore it’s bad for our community”) is a suburban desire. It’s the desire for middle-class conformity and normalcy.

When you travel to other healthy cities around the world (or even in the US), you see the vast array of ways that people are happy to live. I hope that you’ve found a place you like to live; I don’t think it’s helpful to kick away the ladder of other people finding places they may like to live. Guess, what, this apartment isn’t for you.

Seth Zeren

Seth Zeren is a community-oriented real estate developer, city planner, and community rabble-rouser. He grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and has lived, studied, and worked in South Korea, New Haven, CT, India, and Cambridge, MA before settling on the West Side of Providence. His background in evolutionary and ecological sciences informs his approach to development and planning, with an emphasis on the dynamics and processes of urban change over the designing of perfect outcomes.


  • It also boils down to “This will admit the wrong sort of people to my neighborhood.”

  • What street in the Armory District are those Victorian homes on as shown in this post? They are beautiful.

  • Those are the houses torn down on Brook Street, aren’t they? How sad, if so.

  • The Victorian houses in the photo are on Parade Street in the Armory (west side).

    The torn-down Brook Street (east side) houses you reference, were not nearly as grand as these.

  • I agree to an extent with Mr. Zeren on this. Every apartment building has to be looked at in context of the neighborhood its going to built in. But we should be careful we’re not autocratic about our own standards. If there is a desire for a place to garden, it should be heard out. Likewise with parking. I’m all for sustainable planning and smart growth, but lets face it, Its an act of faith to rely on Rhode Island Public Transit to get you to your job or apartment at a desired time and with any degree of consistency. Until service is remarkably improved, It is reasonable for provision to be made for close proximity parking.

  • And Court, the reverse is true, provide the parking and there is little transit can do no matter how good the service is.
    And the service in many cases is much better than non-users think it is. For example, to the Armory on Cranston St, a neighborhood referenced on this, on RIPTA’s #31 line there are 63 trips/day each way each weekday, from 5:54am in the morning until 11:24 pm. Even on weekends there is service basically every 25 minutes.

  • Thank you for your points Barry. I admit, I am basing my opinion on service from ten years ago and the complaints riders leave on RIPTA’s facebook page, so I may not have a full perspective of their service.

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