Last link in the gas line going in at Ship & the new Clifford St.
With Chestnut St. closed at Pine St., Richmond St. a mess, Dorrance and Eddy and the park shredded and Ship St. ripped up, sealed up, ripped open again, seemingly every morning at 7 am, residents reasonably ask "When will this all end?"
That's the question JDA President Arthur Salisbury posed to Executive DIrector Jan Brodie before the August 28th 195 Redevlopment Commission marketing meeting. Her response was immediate and to the point:
Work on the West Side will be finished in October 2014. On the East Side of the river, August 2015. Park segments and the pedestrian bridge will be completed in the Spring of 2016.
As was pointed out, when Interstate 195 was built, all the infrastructure under the right of way — local streets, water, gas and electric supplies and sanitary and sewer systems were completely destroyed. Wiped out. After all, they were going to disappear under 30-foot highway embankments, never to return.
Now, in 2013 all that complicated infrastructure needs to be reconstituted to current standards for such high-tech utilities as fibre-optic communications.
So, for us here in the Jewelry District, that means the jack hammers, the air compressors, the generators, the back hoes, the humming of diesel engines, the screeches and clangs! of road plates sliding — or dropping — into place, and, yes, the incessant beeping of back-up alarms will be with us for the duration.
But there's a ray of sunshine: the gas company installers tell us that they're almost done with the work on Ship St.
And remember, it's all in the aid of the cause.
On Wednesday the 28th, the 195 Redevelopment District Commission convened an informational meeting for their newly hired consultants on design and marketing strategies. Open to the public, the meeting was attended by Jewelry District Association members.
Now that funding is in hand and installation of infrastructure has begun, the Commission's free to move ahead with marketing.
Participating in the discussion were staff members and principals of the teams that will be developing the marketing tools: Goody Clancy, Internet consultancy DK Communications and Malcolm Grear Design.
In a wide ranging discussion facilitated by David Dixon of Goody Clancy, the Commissioners explored strategic direction and marketing approaches for the roughly 20 acres that have come to new life with the obliteration of I-195 through the Jewelry District.
It's the beginning of new life for a unique part of Providence, and a unique situation in the Northeast: 20 contiguous acres of bare land in the middle of a major city's downtown with easy access to Interstates 95 and 195, T.F. Green Airport and the Northeast rail corridor. The challenge is how to communicate all the pluses the Providence site offers to prospective developers and corporations — multiple educational and medical institutions within walking distance, vibrant life style highlighted by a nationally recognized restaurant scene, historic attractions and recreational opportunities from ocean beaches to Narragansett Bay.
Among the many next steps: a public tour of the development area on October 26th.
The City of Providence is initiating a comprehensive rewrite of the Providence Zoning Ordinance so that it better reflects the economic and cultural potential of our City, the demands of residents and businesses, and the City's overall livability and sustainability goals.
Re:Zoning Providence will help us better preserve, strengthen,and protect the historic pattern of development that is central to the character of our City, as well as to revitalize and further develop the areas of our City that can accommodate additional economic growth.
September 10th Public Meeting
Please join us on Tuesday, September 10, 2013, from 5:30 - 7:30pm for a public introduction to the project by the City of Providence Department of Planning & Development and a pesentation by planning & zoning consultants that outlines a technical review of the current ordinance and potential approaches to the rezoning.
Joseph A. Doorley Building
444 Westminster Street
First Floor Cafeteria
Providence, RI 02903
A series of meetings is planned for the year ahead as part of the planning process.
For Mayor Taveras's introduction to this major initiative, click: Mayor Taveras
And to see the project timeline, click: process-timelines
Writing in the New England Real Estate Journal issue of August 16th, Mayor Angel Taveras cited the resources and strengths already in the "Knowledge District" that make it a prime location for future development.
His use of the term "Knowledge DIstrict" came along with an aside that it is "also the historic Jewelry District of Providence". We applaud his strong support of the I-195 Commission as it works through the complexities of turning a dead Interstate into prime development land.
But here in the historic Jewelry District we'd like it a whole lot better if he'd just stick with our time-honored name. We suggest he remember that there's a powerful amount of knowledge hard at work up on the hill across the river from the historic Jewelry DIstrict and out West at Providence College and Rhode Island College.
But let's not lose sight of the big picture. Whatever he calls our neighborhood, he's working hard to rebuild our city.
Click here to see the Mayor's message in full:
Exciting as it is to see action on the long stalled redevelopment of the defunct power plant on Eddy Street, a dose of realism is called for. A recent article in the Providence Journal looks at some of the challenges in detail. You can read the article by clicking HERE.
As construction advances on restoring the street grid in the Jewelry District, the contractors' decorative scheme gets more and more elaborate.
This view at the corner of Ship and Clifford streets shows a rainbow of hieroglyphics, runes, secret symbols and who knows what all else.
The Mayor's Grafitti Patrol just cleaned several sets of tags off the 110-year old brick walls at 116 Chestnut.
Maybe we should have persuaded the crew to go around the corner and clean up that Jackson Pollacked intersection, too.
These tags on street and sidewalk will be here long after the construction crews have vanished.
The highlight of the July 9th meeting of the Jewelry District Association was a presentation by Russell Carey, Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy at Brown University, detailing a major construction project within the District. The plan calls for renovation of the South Street Power Station (Dynamo House) for administrative functions and educational space for Brown and shared nursing schools for Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. In addition the plans include new construction to provide student housing for approximately 296 graduate students, structured parking for 600 cars plus retail space.
Click here for more info
At the Providence Zoning Board of Review on June 5, Chris Velleca, architect for the developers of 44 Hospital Street requested a variance from the parking requirement for the new building. The proposed structure will have 30 residential units above ground-floor commercial units.
Valleca said that the lot only has room for 12 underground spaces, nearly 50% less than required. In response to a board member's question, he said that test drilling hit water at a depth insufficient to allow a 2nd underground parking level. Given the mix of neighboring institutions as workplaces, he reasoned that the building would have great appeal for people who had no need for cars. He added that bicycle spaces – 4 bikes per car space -- could make up for some of the shortfall.
During the public comment session, several people said the idea of more residential units in the Jewelry District was welcome. But a number of property owners and residents were concerned about adding to what they say is an acute lack of overnight and weekend parking. Nearly half the acreage in the Jewelry District – 38 acres - is given over to surface parking, but many lots get chained at night and on weekends – they are simply too small to operate economically as public lots.
Chairman Myrth York said that it seemed clear that while there was clearly an issue, it was resolvable. She asked that the developers investigate possibilities in the area for additional spaces and re-present at the next meeting of the board on July 10th.
At tonight's meeting of the Downtown Design Review Committee a proposal will be presented for demolishing 44 Hospital St. and replacing it with a new 6-story apartment building.
The building currently serves as a nightclub and daytime restaurant. It has a surrounding parking lot. You can see the architect's concept here.
The plans show a building with 30 apartments, retail spaces fronting on South St. and underground parking for 16 cars. It will fill the lot with a driveway access off Hospital St. for access to the parking garage. At the corner of Hospital and Ship Sts. the facade will be notched to provide a small entry courtyard with a curved overhang for the upper 5 floors. The lower three floors appear to be clad with random rough stone, which is not typical of the buildings in the District (the neighboring Brown University offices in a historic foundry building is constructed of granite blocks).
The JDA will be monitoring developments on this project as it advances.
The design is being presented for Pre-Application Review. According to the agenda, it is for discussion only. No action will be taken by the DRC at the meeting.
Monday, May 13, 2013 – 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development 3rd Floor Conference Room
444 Westminster Street, Providence