In 2007, two newcomers to Providence, exploring the area around their new apartment in the District, decided to try a restaurant with an odd name, just up the street. Stepping into CAV, they were dazzled, as all 1st-time CAV-goers were, by the sparkling lights and the array of artifacts.
An effusive woman introduced herself and, on hearing that we were "new in the area," she reached in a pocket and produced two ancient-looking coins. "Welcome and good luck," she said. And today we looked at these little tokens with special fondness.
Just one of many memories people have of a special person.
It came as a shock when the news started circulating that Sylvia had died. Seen in operation at her action station at CAV Restaurant, she seemed so impressively alive for all these years. We all have our own personal memories of her.
If you only knew her from consulting on the menu and exchanging pleasantries over dinner, it is hard to grasp the fullness of her life.
Newcomers to town won't know that for more than 10 years she was the Executive Director of the Providence Athenaeum. That she was a collector of antiquities is obvious from a visit to CAV. Her facility with a multitude of languages, growing from her origins in Egypt and world travels, was impressive.
But most of us experienced her without realizing it: the warmth of the hospitality at CAV reflected her attention to detail and understanding of what makes dining out a pure pleasure.
Aly Stallman, Sylvia's husband, announced that CAV will continue operating as usual.
The Jewelry District Association joins a long list of Sylvia's friends, fans and admirers in extending our sympathies to Aly Stallman and his family.
Gail Ciampa, Providence Journal Food Editor offered her own recollections of Sylvia HERE
The Providence Athenaeum wrote of their years with Sylvia HERE.
Construction of the new 1,200-car, 7-story Garrahy Courthouse parking garage presents a major challenge because secure temporary parking has to be found for the judges who currently park in the lot behind the courthouse. The challenge is compounded because, in order to close the deal on Wexford Project Phase I, the 195 Commission has to guarantee that on the day it opens for business.parking for their tenants will be available in the new Garrahy Garage.
What if the garage construction falls behind schedule? That's why the Commission is seeking a variance to allow parking in Parcels 27 and 28 (along Clifford, Friendship and Richmond Streets). The Commission notified abutting property owners and announced a public hearing in conjunction with their regular monthly meeting on August 21st.
Quality of life issues concern the JDA.
The District really doesn't need any more surface parking. During the day, every lot in the District is full. At night and on weekends, we live in a macadam desert. In recent years, more buildings have morphed into parking lots than parking lots have sprouted new buildings.
And the courthouse parking lot lies wide open for uncontrolled parking at night. It has become a frequent battleground for drunken brawlers. Will closing the lot during construction move the action deeper into the heart of the District? Will residents begin finding "visitors"" cars partying in their reserved spaces? And will temporary parking turn into permanent parking while the 195 Commission waits for a developer to purchase the site and build on it?
Working productively with the 195 Commission.
During internal JDA discussions it became clear that this is not an easy Yes/No situation. We want development to proceed in the District. And in this case, temporary parking has to be found. Fortunately, the Commission recognizes our concerns and has been open to discussion. We've been monitoring the garage as it moves through the design approval process. And we've been working closely with the Commission's Executive Director Peter McNally on the other issues.
The Commission set up a meeting on the afternoon on the 21st to consider the issues and share ideas for acceptable temporary parking. JDA Board's Arthur Salisbury, Sharon Steele, Lewis Dana and Olin Thompson were joined by Al Dahlberg from Brown University and met with 195 Chair Joseph Azrack, Deputy Chair XXX Davis, Executive Director Peter McNally, Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor and staff.
The net result of the work was a revision to the request for use variance to add a timetable for reverting temporary parking to shovel-ready development site within 30 days of the opening of the Garrahy Garage. And it was also agreed that the Commission and the JDA and other stakeholders would continue meeting on safety issues, operating hours and supervision and possible landscaping.
For a full report on the Public Hearing and Commission action taken, read Kate Bramson's article in the Providence Journal HERE.
Pro or con, here's your chance to speak up about the proposed apartment tower on Dyer St. next to our riverside park. It's on the agenda for the next meeting of the I-195 Commission. 5:00 PM, Conference Room at the Commerce Corporation offices, 315 Iron Horse Way, Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
For a little background, see earlier posts. And also click PROJECTS Progress at the right, above.
For an update and details on what to expect at the I-195 Commission meeting, see Kate Bramson's article in the Projo, HERE.
To dig deeper into the facts and figures behind the proposal, see the I-195 Commission report, HERE.
Here's the meeting agenda. Please take note: the meeting will be open for Public Comment .
UPDATE August 3, 2017: There's been some movement in the realization of The Shack. Not huge movement, but some stakes and string show us where the clamcakes and drinks will be available, if all proceeds on maybe not exactly a schedule, but on plan.
11 July 2017. No, not THAT Shack. Our very own THE SHACK. We're talking about a place that will soon be an exciting part of Providence's lively foodie scene. Last night as part of a special meeting of the I-195 Commission, John Paul Murton and his enthusiastic team of entrepreneurs took the wraps off their plans for a new place to find food and gather with friends.
The Shack is scheduled to open soon serving sea food in the small open area between 1 Ship St. and the adjacent the Wexford development parcel. The I-195 Commission put out an RFP for a temporary food and event spot for the site, something to bring a little life and action to the area where, in a few years, the Wexford Innovation Center will be bustling with people. The presenters won the bid with what might be called a "super food truck" or a year-round open-air cafe... .
Decide what it is for yourself: The Commission arranged for us to access the full presentation and put if on line for you with one click right HERE.
The developers of the new Chestnut Commons residential complex will present a significant re-design at the upcoming session of the Dontown Design Review Committee on Monday, June 12th.
Note: See Update under PROJECTS Progress.
Members of the JDA Planning & Zoning Committee were given a preview of the revisions by Waldorf Capital Management chairman Brian Poitras. He said cost issues with the original design have been addressed in the design.
While simplified, the new design retains a number of the features as positives in the original approval by the DDRC. Notably, the articulation, while modified, of the long Friendship St. facade. And the angled entry at the Chestnut/Friendship corner visible in the schematic above. A small detail, but an appealing nod to the similar entry on the Chestnut/Clifford entry to 95 Chestnut. (The newly renovated Russell & Irons Building where Waldorf Capital is well on its way to filling 59 new rental units with residents.)
Work is still ongoing on final revisions, so the schematic rendering above and posted on the Ongoing Projects page may not be exactly what gets presented to the DDRC. To see it, click HERE.
Public comment will be welcomed by the DDRC at the session which starts at 4:45 pm in the 1st-floor conference room at 444 Westminster St.
Wexford Phase One has been moving through a cooperative review process between the City of Providence Zoning Department and the Downtown Design Review Committee. At its regular monthly meeting the I-195 Economic Development District Committee announced final zoning and design approval from the city and unanimously voted a go-ahead for the first major project on the reclaimed 195 land.
Phase One will include an office building, a hotel and a public plaza. Brown University and Cambridge Innovation Center will be the anchor tenants for the 191,000 sq-ft, 6 story building. The plaza will be a multi-purpose open space between the hotel and the Innovation Center.
The 195 Commission meeting also offered updates on other projects that will contribute to the transformation of the District.
Construction of the Pedestrian Bridge continues apace; concrete formwork has now appeared for the first time aboveground on both sides of the river.
Good news, too, on the west side River Walk with plans for extending it all the way to Point St. The Commission has agreed with the developers of South Street Landing on financing a footbridge over the Ship Street Inlet... burying the electrical conduit that's currently strung in the air between South Street and the Manchester Station power plant... and natural screening of the large transformer yard now under construction in connection with National Grid's new Switchgear Building.
For details on each of these projects, just click PROJECTS Progress at the top right of this page.
During the meeting, Commission Chair Joseph Azrack invited public comment; his invitation was eagerly accepted.
Providence Foundation Executive Director Dan Baudouin expressed his delight that at last, after years of public campaigning for it, the Providence River Walk will be completed to Point St. Others, expressed
appreciation for the way the scale and siting of the buildings reinforce the District's prized walkability. Strong pleas were made that developers of future projects be urged to follow that example, especially in the key parcels directly across Dyer St. The rich opportunities for public art installations were cited. There was praise for Wexford and the 195 Commission recognizing the importance of a designated pathway for CiTY WALK as a core amenity of the site.
Among those speaking were JDA President Arthur Salisbury and JDA board members, Olin Thompson, Peter McClure, Lewis Dana, Sharon Steele and Leslie Myers.
As a follow-up to the previous item, Professor Neumann has posted a video of his students' presentation on line. In the video you can travel back into the past at 19 different sites in the District. You'll see familiar buildings in their earliest days and discover now-vanished factories, houses, churches schools and parks from the District's earlier days.
The students were assigned a total of 38 sites for the class. In the interests of time, only 19 were presented to the public at the Brown Medical School on April 4th. When the students' final work is handed in, the intention is to make the full, written study available on line. Watch this space!
In the meantime, here's the link to the video: The Jewelry District: Past, Present, Future
April 24, 2016. A crowd of more than 125 people gathered at the Warren Alpert Medical School on Richmond St. for what turned out to be a fascinating look at the District. Students in Prof. Dietrich Neumann's urban seminar presented lively, at times surprising, new – to many in the audience – details about our neighborhood.
A long-lost city park, a vanished church that, before its demise had become a brewery, another church whose pastor became embroiled in a front-page murder case were just a few items they dropped in our laps.
Each of the 16 students was assigned to study two sites in the District. In the interests of keeping the time under control, each student reported on a single building. (When, at the end of the semester, their work is finished, Prof. Neumann said information will be available on all 32 sites.
As a whole, the presentation was a trip through history, following the transition of the District as industry took over a residential area, then evolved in response to changing technology and market conditions. A few examples: the Irons & Russell Building at 95 Chestnut St. was the first factory in the District to have its own electric generating system... today's Manchester St. power station took over the Providence Gas Co.'s coal gassification site when electricity supplanted gas for illumination (last remnant of Providence Gas: Club Desire)... the Alibi Deli on Bassett St, was orginally a single story; the original building was jacked up and today's brick first floor was built under it... where the Point St. overpass crosses I-95, gracious Hayward Park surrounded a dramatic fountain and the splendid Point St. Grammar School once stood as landmarks.
The speakers used modern technology to re-create the look of the past. Archival images of vanished buildings popped into their original locations on images of the sites as they are today. Fascinating to see a classic single steeple colonial church suddenly appear in the parcel of 195 land at the corner of Clifford and Chestnut where the I-195 overpass used to be.
Brent Runyon, Providence Preservation Society Exec. Dir. , and Peter McNally, 195 Commission Exec. DIr. both commented about the importance of understanding the past as the District moves into its future with the destruction of I-195.
Organized by Olin Thompson and Sharon Steele, the event was sponsored by the Providence Preservation Society, Building Bridges and the Jewelry District Association and Brown University.
The event was covered by the Providence Journal; you can read their account HERE.
Despite unrelenting rain, the Jewelry District Clean-Up had another annual success on April 20th. The forces swept, weeded and mulched their way along Chestnut Street. Highlight of the day was the planting of five new trees.
Cushman & Wakefield's John Arzoomanian coordinated the manpower, equipment and supplies for the event. A pick-up equipped team from Brown University led by Nicholas Moi was on hand to do the heavy lifting. Despite the less than clement nature of the weather, spirits were high and, as in past years, the team accomplished a great deal.
Chestnut St. was the center of operations. Earlier in the year, City Forester Doug Still had done a walk-around tree survey with the JDA and identified problem trees and ones needing replacement. So, in the week prior to the Clean-up, new tree cuts were made, old ones prepped, and Friday morning, five young trees were on site, ready for planting.
These are the first trees planted by the city in the District in years. Yes, RIDoT planted more than 100 trees along the "new" streets created by the removal of I-195, and Brown U. planted large trees along its medical school on Richmond St. And that's it.
A little ancient history is worth mentioning: a survey from forty years ago showed an industrial neighborhood with just three trees. Over the years, the JDA has worked with the city and managed to re-forest much of the District. Pear trees in full flower on Clifford St. and other examples here and there show the results of that effort. But some of those trees are now 30 years old. In his survey, the City Forester noted many damaged or ailing trees and empty sidewalk cuts where trees used to be (useful, perhaps, for giving RI-style directions).
Getting five slender new trees is real progress. And having so many willing hands out there in the rain to get the trees into the ground and the street spruced up, is great for your neighborhood.
At the Providence Downtown Design Review Committee meeting on April 10, presentations were made by two groups for projects that will help further the transformation of the District.
This was a first, pre-application look at the long-awaited parking garage that the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority intends to build on the lot behind the Garrahy Courthouse. Sited between Friendship and Clifford at Richmond, the six-level garage will offer 1,250 spaces, some reserved for courthouse staff and visitors, some for residents and businesses in new buildings expected to go up in the near future.
Providence Business News reported on the project HERE.
At the same Design Review session, revised plans were presented for the Wexford Science & Technology innovation center and an adjoining Aloft Hotel. The panel approved the design and recommended its adoption by the 195 Commission. More details can be found in a Providence Journal article, HERE.
If you'd like to make your own assessments of the projects, their complete presentations can be found on our PROJECTS Progress round-up page HERE.