Greater City Providence

News Round-Up: Fane Tower

Illustration so height of proposed Hope Point Tower and the 3 current tallest buildings in Providence.

Below is a look at the various local news reports about the City Council hearing this week regarding the zoning change requested by The Fane Organization for the proposed Hope Point Tower:

The Providence Journal: Jason Fane pitches his tower to Providence again

At a public hearing Monday night, New York developer Jason Fane described his proposed 46-story luxury apartment tower as a project that would bring jobs, economic development, housing and tax revenue to the city.

“You have four good planning reasons to approve the tower,” he said.

But many residents who testified said the project, known as the Hope Point Tower, doesn’t fit with the rest of the city, ignores the city’s dire need for affordable housing in favor of luxury condominiums, and goes against a comprehensive zoning plan approved by the City Council three years ago.

“The zoning laws are a way for you to communicate to developers what you want to build,” said Olin Thompson, a Providence resident who testified Monday night. “What happens here, now, today, is an issue of respect. The one who does not respect our zoning laws is Mr. Fane.”

Providence Business News: Support, opposition for Hope Point Tower in Providence in public hearing

Without specifying rents, or purchase prices for the condos, he said his plan would allow a range of working people to afford the units. The apartments will become larger and more luxurious as they move upward, starting at the seventh floor, which he said will allow the occupants to look over either the Providence River or the Wexford Science & Technology complex, now under construction.

Built in three design sections, the various stories would be accessible by different lobbies and elevators, he said. According to the building architect, the occupants would include empty nesters, moving into the city, investors and even students who could double up in units that were purchased as an investment.

Emphasis added.

WPRI: At packed meeting, developer looks for council approval of high-rise plan

For the first time since the plan was introduced, developer Jason Fane addressed the Providence City Council about his proposed “Hope Point Tower” that would drastically change the city’s skyline.


In Providence, the zoning ordinance only allows building heights of 130 feet in the area of the city where the tower would be built. This means the city council would need to approve a zoning change before the $300 million project could proceed.

The City Council Ordinance Committee heard testimony back in September, both for and against the project, before making a recommendation to deny the zoning change. The full council sent it back to the committee until Fane and his associates could pitch the project to the city council themselves.

Architecture Here & There: A little off the top for Fane

The fact remains that if the council approves this major zoning change, it will effectively nullify all zoning regulations in the city. At stake is not a tweak to squeeze an otherwise legal building under the wire. This would not be to bend but to discard the rules. It would be a declaration by a developer that he doesn’t care about the law – and equally, by any council member who votes to approve this profanity, a declaration of the same.

Unlike the first hearing held by the council’s Ordinance Committee in July, this time the committee did not vote to reject (as it did then) or recommend the zoning change. So far as I am aware, no date for a vote by ordinance has been set, much less a vote by the full council. It’s no wonder members aren’t eager to vote on this.

Uprise RI: Fane’s Hope Point Tower before the PVD City Council, round 2

At a second Providence City Council Ordinance Committee meeting to discuss the Fane Organization‘s proposed Hope Point Tower, dozens of people testified both for and against the project. Those opposed were mostly Providence residents from neighborhood groups that see Fane’s design and the placement of the proposed building on the I-195 land instead of a more appropriate downtown location. Those in favor were mostly members of the Building Trades, or paid employees of the Fane Organization.

The post includes video of most (all?) of the testimony at the hearing, including The Fane Organization’s 70 minutes of testimony.

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.


  • Was in Boston this past week and given the similarities between the Prov/Bos with preserving historical aspects while letting the city grow at the same time; I think that if Providence officials took one drive through Seaport or Back Bay, they would approve this project in Providence in a HEARTBEAT. Build it.

  • To turn this amount of investment away would be ludicrous. Gio is absolutely correct. Boston is leaps and bounds ahead of Providence because leadership possesses a strong sense of vision. By not approving Hope point tower, the city is dictating, do it our way or not at all. There are exceptions to the rule, especially when a developer is seeking to invest 300 million dollars of his money into our local economy. The very reason the I-195 corridor has been a desolate piece of real estate for so long is due to our residents and politicians alike failing to get out of their own way. It is time to take a chance and bet on something considerably more substantial for once. Otherwise, someone else will..


    “Thursday’s vote will come two days after the general election. Castillo is the only member of the committee that has an opponent Tuesday. Hassett and Principe are not seeking re-election. Harris and Ryan do not have challengers.”

    Hopefully, this means that they will support the Fane Tower. It would be so ridiculous to turn away $300MM in private investment. Also, now that Elorza has won re-election, I hope he becomes more supportive (and vocal about the importance of this project).

    A project like this could really create some momentum around Superman, too.

  • Excellent project but going nowhere fast as this spineless, mediocre mayor won’t risk pissing off his East Side donor base as he gears up to run for governor in 2020. The worst thing in the world is an ambitious imbecile. What a sad turn of events for Providence…

  • “The Providence City Council Ordinance Committee on Thursday gave its blessing to a zoning change that would pave the way for a New York developer to build the state’s tallest skyscraper on the former I-195 land.

    The five-member committee voted 3-1 to recommend approval to the full council to raise the maximum building height of Parcel 42 along Dyer Street from 130 feet to 600 feet, which would allow developer Jason Fane to build a 46-story residential skyscraper.”-wpri .Great News

  • Elorza should support this right now. Four years is a long time away, and once the favorable impact of the Fane tower is realized, he will be able to take credit for it publicly. If Elorza is running for Governor in 2022, this is not something that would make him lose Providence — not remotely close. Elorza supporting this would also probably bring Gina’s public support, as well.

    Let’s hope that other developers are watching this. Now that the City is (publicly) open to modernizing and supporting meaningful development, it’d be nice to see other out-of-state developers coming in to commit even more money to the City. It’s nice to see the old anti-change establishment in RI starting to dissipate. 2019 is shaping up to be very exciting: potential move of the entire Hasbro HQ downtown????, 5 new hotels, Edge College Hill Phase 2, Virgin Hotel in the Superman Building????, New PVD-based tech jobs announced by CommerceRI????, more international airlines flying out of TF Green????, more condos downtown???? Express trains to Boston???? Keep it coming!

  • Providence’s problem is the unwillingness of its decision-makers to see positive change brought by folks from elsewhere and grab it. Instead, it entrenches itself by reinforcing the local power structure. The recent election is a testament to this. Only 2/3 of Providence’s elegible voters exercised that right this week. We should embrace change and those that are willing to invest so as to make it happen. Small-minded citizens only elect small-minded leaders. As such, in spite of our great location and attributes, we’ll see everything happening in Boston and not here.

  • Big Papi is right, look at the fact that Mattiello actually got re-elected and kept his Speakership. The guy rules by a system of political favor and fear. This has to change.

    “New money” coming in is what we need. The establishment would never put their own money up to do a project like this, and the scores of similar projects that we will need to compete on a global level. Local developers don’t have the money, nor the interest. They’d rather just take small, high probability wins with as much corporate welfare as they can get. It is an “aim small, miss small” mentality.

    The next question asked of Fane should be, when will you be prepared to put forward proposals for Fane Tower #2 and Fane Tower #3? If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

  • Amen GGG, we need more like you around. You should run for Providence mayor in 2022!

  • I’ve never seen so much backlash in a city that needs this type of development, which NEVER happens here. Let’s hope it pulls through.

  • Where the hell is Jorge Elorza on this? Normally, a major would champion efforts of this size. $300 million is no pittance. For someone who just won re-election, he is looking very spineless.

    I want to see him act more like Marty Walsh. Invite everybody in and build! Make the most of the economic cycle, before its too late.

  • I mean there are some people who think that taxpayer money shouldn’t go towards luxury housing that almost nobody can afford and that this project might make rents balloon and they do have a point but on the other hand, this project is adding a lot of housing units to Providence. PHA is vastly underfunded and is not keeping up with the rising rents in Providence. The PHA being underfunded needs to be a top priority even over the whole Wexford project IMO because what’s really effecting not only Providence’s but RI’s economy is stagnant wages and rising rents as well as lack of a fast, high frequency, high ridership public transit system. PHA should’ve built thousands of not only affordable but free housing units in the 195 Corridor. also the PHA should subsidize 1 unit of affordable housing for every 5 luxury housing units in any housing project at the minimum. we can’t rely on the private sector and market forces to solve the housing affordability crisis because at the end of the day developers and landlords only care about profit and low rents aren’t profitable for them. It’s time to make free housing a human right!

  • GGG: Jorge a champion? A coward is what he is! At the end of the day, he’ll just say that he couldn’t take a position because of some irrelevant reason (pick your poison). Jorge is unable to assume responsibilities for anything concerning the city (but inside the Matrix we know as Providence, apparently very few have noticed how messed up things really are…). He’ll blame the Council, Taveras, anyone but him or his masters. To those in the ‘hoods that drank his Cool-Aid during the last election, hope it was well worth it. Just remember who destroyed the city when he decides to run for Governor in four years.

  • The latest in the saga:

    His ambition and cowardice know no boundaries. Jorge will give the project his blessing by taking no action whatsoever during the 10-day period. He’ll stab Buff Chase (and the other Providence-based developers that were his primary campaign contributors), the Providence Preservation Society and the hipsters in the back as he no longer needs them. By letting the project move forward he opens the door and makes himself available to receive cash from Gina’s statewide donors as he begins assembling Team Jorge for his gubernatorial run while she does the same for her Gina for Senator effort.

  • Turkey giveaways, winter strolls, cultural festivals… this is Elorza’s strong suit. Governing, managing and having vision for a city of 180,000 people are not.

    I don’t know who actually believes he can win a gubernatorial election. He would not stand a chance even in a Democratic primary.

    Elorza needs to focus on Providence development, first and foremost. Most of the projects being completed now or under construction had zero involvement from Elorza. By building *ALL THREE* of the Hope Point Towers, Elorza could go down as the man who saved the city’s finances. Instead, he is contemplating gimmicks and selling assets (like our water supply) to hedge funds, infrastructure, and private equity.

    Here’s a tip to our feeble local, Democratic civil servants. Promote growth and development, expand tax base, lower taxes, watch economy grow and pension liability gap shrink. This is not rocket science.

  • Kiteboarder is 100% correct. The credit should go to Mayor Taveras for pushing his planning director, Ruben Flores Marzan, to finish the rewrite of the city’s zoning ordinance. The new regulatory framework gave developers better guidance and confidence that their projects would move forward. Even PVD Fest, for which Elorza takes all the credit, was orchestrated by Taveras’ director of Arts, Culture and Tourism, Lynne McCormack. Elorza has no clue about developing and/or implementing a long-term vision for the city. Then again, only 1/3 of eligible Providence voters showed up on election day…Fane Tower will likely happen but only because the Speaker, Gina, and the Senate President want it. Elorza should receive zero credit for this.

  • There’s a post about the veto on the blog. In that post I asked people to not make personal attacks. “Village Idiot” is not constructive to the discussion. Post was removed.

  • Jef: My apologies. This decision (veto) demonstrates that Jorge does not have what it takes to lead the city out of the hole it is in. Providence will die a slow, painful death with Elorza vetoing any development opportunity that attempts to change the city or to negatively impact his donors. His Downcity master ordered this and he gladly obliged…