Quick Update from 44 Hospital Street: Work resumed on tearing down 44 Hospital Street on Monday morning, Nov. 21. With permits in hand. (See previous item.)
Demolition began on Saturday morning, November 19 amid some confusion on the subject of permits and police details. As a backhoe chewed away to demolish the building which is slated to be replaced by apartments, visitors to the Children's museum across the street were arriving for a busy Saturday morning.
A traffic lane was blocked off on Hospital Street and on South Street as trucks lined up to carry away debris from the site. The work crew said (accurately, as it turned out) that they had a demolition permit; but no permit was available on site. They said they planned to work Saturday and Sunday. But, as the police who came to investigate determined, the crew had no permit for weekend work. And no request had been made for a police detail to safeguard traffic and pedestrians attempting to negotiate the streets with the blocked off lanes.
The police ordered the work to stop immediately.
Located directly across from the entrance to the Children's Museum busy parking lot, the demolition posed significant risks to the public — especially since Saturday is the museum's busiest day of the week. The photos below show that the building was left in a very unsafe condition with a section of the second floor and roof totally unsupported.
It is assumed that when work resumes, proper safeguards for the public will be in place and the city's building code and laws will be strictly followed.
Waldorf Capital Management principals Brian Poitras and Zachary Darrow and architect Michael Abbott presented revised concepts for Chestnut Commons to the Providence Design Review Committee on Monday, Nov. 7. They pointed out a number of revisions made in response to comments from the Committee, the I-195 Commission and the public, including the JDA.
Discussion focused on the facade along Friendship St. The concern of many being that the repetitive pattern along the 360-foot extent between Chestnut and Claverick Streets needed more variation. Several suggestions for possible alternatives were made by the Committee members and others. and it was agreed that they would be taken under advisement for possible revision. After a productive discussion and a public comment period, the Committee voted to approve the concept. Ideally, said the developers, the project can be fast-tracked to break ground in the spring as companion project 95 Chestnut St. nears completion. Next step: I-195 Commission.
Thursday, October 13, Providence River. While no ribbons were cut, and no silver shovels wielded by officials moved any earth, work officially began this morning on the Pedestrian Bridge. Actually, about 100 feet of guard rail along a defunct I-195 approach road was being un-ceremoniously removed by a work crew which turned off its power saw during the press conference. As good as a ribbon cutting any day.
Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce set the tone for the event, emphasizing the importance of the bridge as one of the catalyzing factors in the area's economic revitalization. He saluted the pro-bridge campaigners for their efforts in bringing the bridge to reality. He also noted, that as a resident of the Jewelry District, he is pleased to see the amount of new residential building and conversions underway here. To the surprise of some in the audience, he also announced that the bridge is a key factor in the future of the "Innovation and Design District", a term some locals had not heard before.
In his remarks, Rhode Island department of Transportation Executive Director Peter Alviti echoed the economic importance of the bridge. He went on to say that the bridge design is not merely to get people on bikes and foot across the river, but that in the public features it will offer the bridge will be an attraction in its own right. He said that bridge construction is slated to finish up in two years, at which point work would begin on the parks at the bridge ends.
Following up, 195 District Commission Executive Director Peter McNally pointed out all the projects underway and planned for the area. Besides the massive South Street Landing project and parking garage that dominated the background, he noted that very active progress is being made behind the scenes to bring the multi-phase, million-square foot CV-Wexford project to fruition, progress being made across the river on a mixed-use office and residential structure among other projects.
A certain amount of jubilation was evident among onlookers at the event. JDA and Building Bridges members, Sharon Steele and Olin Thompson, were singled out by one of the speakers for their relentless drive to get the bridge back on track. Furthermore, they appeared pleased that their "air-bridge" (see earlier post) was transforming from balloons into concrete, steel girders and wood decking. Tim Empkie, a leading opponent of the ballpark notion, told an observer that this moment signifies another roadblock to any chance the ballpark will ever resurface. JDA President Arthur Salisbury figures that this signals the point of no return – now virtually nothing can stop the bridge for which the Association has been fighting for nearly a decade.
Spurred on, we are sure, by the great balloon bridge construction event (pics here), things seem to be percolating for Our Park and Pedestrian Bridge.
First, a bit of good news for walkers in the Park. The other day, the overgrown mounds of dirt, debris and hardened concrete slurry, and the heap of discarded curbing, and miscellaneous bits and pieces of construction materials were gathered up and carted away. Suddenly it's possible to stroll everywhere along the river and around the park without tripping on re-bar, wire mesh, chunks of concrete and 30-foot lengths of water main. Not incidentally, over on the east side, the construction staging area long in place along South Water St. has been removed, too.
But better hurry to enjoy all this tidying up. The next bit of good news kind of will take all that fun back out of things.
The frst signs of Pedestrian Bridge construction have appeared. Though it looks like grafitti, red spray paint on the ground outlines the fence that will seal off the bridge construction sites at each end of the bridge. Not sure when the fence will go up, but it looks as if RIDoT is getting serious about this.
Photos: Walkies, GMBH
For months we've been wondering who was reconstructing 138 Point Street. Now it appears that RISD has arrived in the District. As time went on, the glass front doors revealed work going on in several large rooms. Soon, at night, display lights illuminated bare white walls. No hint of who was going into the spaces.
Finally, last week, a RISD safety alarm box appeared on the east corner of the building. And, to reinforce the impression that RISD is here, the school's familiar logotype marked the entrance doors.
But what creativity is about to be expressed on Point St.? Since there are no easels or manikins visible, we rule out the illustration, painting and fashion departments. No machinery, so it's not furniture building or glass making. Nothing to indicate Architecture or Industrial Design. Best guess, judging by the few items visible in the picture above at right: something to do with sculpture.
RISD has released no information we could find. But the JDA will provide details if we hear anything. And, we hope, a new institution will become an active JDA member.
All photos: El Norberto Snaps
Ship Street, Wed., Sept. 21, 2016. Led by Associate Professor Mark Hengen, a class from Johnson & Wales University gathered in the District for a brief training session with City Forester, Doug Still. In conjunction with their class project, the students will be making a survey of our street trees. Still explained a system for recording tree locations and condition, and noting factors that determine tree health, such as the dimensions of sidewalk cuts.
The students are working on a project for the JWU course "Earth in Peril". Not that the District is in immediate danger, but, as a neighborhood in transition, it serves as an ideal subject for study.
Earth in Peril is an interdisciplinary course that infuses ecoliterature with landscape ecology and architecture. 15 students are involved for the fall semester, and many more will be involved as the year progresses. Their project will apply a "Place Making" approach to envisioning ways for green infrastructure and urban nature to build the Jewelry District's resiliency and place attachment.
The students analyze existing place identifiers through a variety of social surveys, conduct landscape ecological investigations (street trees, wildlife, plantable spaces) and identify public space challenges. They will implement solutions based on community-member ideas and visions and present findings at key points during the year.
Prof. Hengen and students plan to attend the JDA monthly meeting on October 11.
Once again, on Sunday the 25th, the Providence Flea set up shop in the District. More than 20 tents were open for business at 10 am on the I-195 parcel across the street from 95 Chestnut St. The brilliant sunny day was perfect for crowds of strolling shoppers. This was the second Sunday for the Flea at their new location in the Jewelry District where you'll find them every Sunday through the 28th of October. Drop by between 10 and 4 and pick up that treasure... discover the art work you didn't know you wanted... knock off your Christmas shopping really early.
Photos: Norbert Images
The JDA set up a table to hand out information about the District and recruit new members. President Salisbury presided (picture at lower left).