Greater City Providence

Amazon HQ2: I guess it could be fun to look at all these crazy renderings

These renderings are what it would look like if an episode of Star Trek was set in Providence.

Providence Station

Jewelry District

Pawtucket/Central Falls


The Warwick one is just a building that was proposed but never built in 2014 (after the Elizabeth Mill was razed).

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.


  • Grossly surreal futuristic- why didn’t they depict brick and stone? Jeez.
    Looks like an artist from Dallas or Tampa…uggh.

    But, no fear, it will never look like that in this city.

  • The Jewelry district option would actually be quite brilliant. Infrastructure and developable land already in place.

  • Architectural style notwithstanding, not many US cities have that much land in prime, accessible areas already ready to build. This proposal could go further than I thought.

  • Cool but Amazon wants a city that isn’t afraid to invest in transit and we can’t pretend we do after the streetcar project was killed off. Kind of have to laugh when you think of state leaders thinking our bus system is going to attract a corporation like Amazon. Sure sure and I’ll offer Jeff Bezos some luke warm coffee.

  • No way any of them could have been serious, not just because they are ugly but because there is no sea of surface parking, the only way development seems to happen (Fidelity, Citizens, Bryant etc)
    RI best off helping Boston land it with spillover benefits and less of the negative impacts

  • “Rhode Island best off helping Boston”??

    RI is not relevant…you are comparing a state and city. In New England, this will be between Boston and Providence – and Providence is a far better choice and should not defer to the boys north of here in any way.

  • The scale of the added buildings makes it clear that there’s no way Rhode Island’s transportation system could handle the added population. It looks like Amazon would double the square footage of office space in downtown.

    How would all those workers going to get around without completely inundating Rhode Island’s antiquated, highway-centric transportation network?

    Maybe it’s time for the state to reexamine it’s transportation priorities.

  • Two points:

    First, a cursory review of this rendering appears exaggerated in terms of the size/scale of any Amazon facility(ies). So, I do not see it approaching doubling downtown square footage.

    Second, remember that this is not really a state mass transit challenge but a larger Providence metro one. That is, the bus and rail from PVD to its airport and its suburbs in RI and southeastern MA will face added demand. One third of the PVD Metro is in MA and at least that many of Amazon’s employee base will come from the eastern and northern suburbs,

    If selected, this may actually force the issue of real RIPTA metro mass transit development…rail and bus.

  • I don’t think buses alone will attract Amazon to any city. If you are making $100,000 per year, you probably don’t take the bus. In-state RI Rail could come to fruition very quickly if Amazon promised the ridership base, the State has already requested express trains to Boston (which is long over due). Adding rail stops in a handful of communities outside the city could provide more than enough housing stock for the $100k per year demographic that doesn’t want to live downtown. Providence would easily provide the urban core housing stock. Developers of downtown apartments will rush to whatever city wins the bid.

    After visiting Boston last week, I was convinced that Amazon would never move there. So the rumors CNBC published about executives preferring Boston came as a shock. Traffic is just out of control. It made me think that Amazon may not have a choice when it comes to HQ2, they may have to select a mid-tier city that can “grow with them”. Then it comes down to location, I highly doubt that any eastern seaboard city has promised Amazon downtown land over the northeast rail corridor. We have to take this bid seriously.

    A nearly contiguous downtown campus over the northeast corridor, access to two large airports, a 20 minute drive to their fulfillment center, prestigious universities (including Ivy League), and what I’m sure will be a competitive tax package. It is a real proposal. I’m proud of the renderings. Let’s also point out that all the state buildings that behind the state house now seem to be relocated elsewhere. I love this. State employees should always be located in an area that the governments wants to improve, and valuable land should be monetized for the benefit of the taxpayer. I’d love to see these state employees, and others around the state moved to Providence, be centralized — why not the Superman Building? Solves multiple problems.

  • KCB— Excellent points.

    Boston? Uggh.

    Surely, the Capital Center Area, Smith Hill Area, or the Innovation District are all inviting. The proximity to the nation’s 11th busiest Amtrak station with easy access to NYC, Providence’s excellent airport 8 miles south of the sites, a powerful cultural and educational center, proximity to Narragansett Bay, Newport, Cape Cod, and a 1.6 million metro are hugh asserts.

    I hope the Commerce keeps pushing hard…very hard.

  • KCB and Steve are taking this very, very seriously. Meanwhile, that Warwick rendering from years ago says the state is just going through the motions. Although, given the specs Amazon issued, I’m not sure why Warwick was included at all.

    To me, this very strongly smells of wanting to look like trying without actually trying …

  • “ that Warwick rendering from years ago says the state is just going through the motions. Although, given the specs Amazon issued, I’m not sure why Warwick was included at all.”

    Fully agree in terms of any site outside of Providence. That Warwick thing is a joke…who would locate in that suburb? In New England, it must be Providence or that city 50 miles north.

    I think they are serious with the three (3) options in Providence…Innovation District, Capitol Center, and Smith Hill. But, regardless, the odds are not good.