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In a public-minded way to celebrate a company's 27th anniversary, a team of volunteers from Equity National Title in East Providence arrived in force at the Providence Animal Rescue League on October 17.
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).
At last Monday's session of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, Waldorf Capital Management, the team currently converting 95 Chestnut Street to residential use, announced their retail/residential proposal for the adjacent Parcel 30. Running along Friendship Street from Chestnut west to Claverick, Chestnut Commons would have 89 rental units, many with terraces or roof decks, and an "air bridge" connection to 95 Chestnut.
This new proposal joins other projects either impending or proposed that will significantly change the residential composition of the District. Early in 2017, 59 one or two-bed units will begin renting in the Russell & Irons Building at 95 Chestnut St. Now that the parking garage on Eddy St. is moving toward completion, work can begin shortly on River House, two student residential buildings with a total of 220 beds for graduate and nursing students in the parking lot at Davol Square. And the long delayed apartment project at 44 Hospital Street is rumored to be back in action bringing an as-yet undetermined number of new units to the market.
Here's news coverage of Waldorf Capital's presentation at the 195 Commission meeting:
Providence Business News.
Concept drawings: Northeast Collaborative Architects
Why is building the pedestrian bridge and its accompanying West Side park so important to the Jewelry District, the East Side, Fox Point, Downtown and the entire City of Providence, and, indeed, the State of Rhode Island?
Created to keep the project moving forward, the new organization Building Bridges recognizes the crucial role the bridge and park play in the efforts to redevelop the area opened up by the removal of Interstate 195 that began in 2007.
Building Bridges has just released a detailed statement showing why the once-in-a-lifetime economic opportunity for the City — a huge tract of prime development land reclaimed in the heart of the city with walkable proximity to Downcity, the hospitals, the universities — is at risk. Simply put, they say, if the bridge doesn't get built, the redevelopment of the rest of the I-195 land currently moving at snail's pace will remain stalled.
Read the full Building Bridges statement HERE.
Formed this year to promote the value of the bridge and adjoining park, Building Bridges has been working hard to raise public awareness of what's at risk for the economic future of the City. Back in June we reported on the gala afternoon gathering on the Park site Building Bridges organized as its kick-off event. (See earlier posts.)
Familiar as the law offices of Lynch & Greenfield and the former location of a print shop, the one-story complex at 1 Ship Street has been sold. The buyer appears to be an arm of CV-Wexford, the developers of the major project in the works next door on I-195 Parcel 22 along Dyer Street.
We refer you once more to Kate Bramson and the Providence Journal for August 15, 2016. Read it HERE.
And, for a look at what CV Wexford has on its mind for the 195 land, see our Major Project Department entry for CV Wexford Proposals for Parcels 22 and 25 HERE.
At Monday's I-195 Commission monthly meeting, details were unveiled on how funds may be found to build the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge. If all goes well, the gap will be closed between the original budget number and the alarming bids announced last month (see story below).
Our sources say that one of the prime movers encouraging a new look at the financing was Bonnie Nickerson, Director of the Providence Planning Department. Thanks to everyone who had a hand in getting our bridge back on track!
For the whole story, as usual, we turn to the Providence Journal HERE.