288 Blackstone Blvd / Beresford-Nicholson House
This project involves the proposed demolition of the main house (1909, 1919) and auxiliary buildings on the Beresford-Nicholson Estate and the re-subdivision of the property’s three lots into ten developable lots.
In December 2018 the CPC approved a master plan application for 288 Blackstone Boulevard; they did not act on preliminary plan approval and denied the request to combine master and preliminary review. This project involves the demolition of buildings on the Beresford-Nicholson Estate and re-subdivision of the property’s three lots into ten developable lots. PPS has acted as liaison for concerned neighbors by organizing a meeting with the developer and providing advice. PPS has met with the potential developer and Preserve RI, separately, to explore design alternatives for the site. The item will be heard at the February 19 City Plan Commission meeting. Read more about it in East Side Monthly.
If you would like to join concerned neighbors and sign a petition opposing this development, you may do so here.
As noted in the media, attorneys on both sides presented arguments about whether the developer’s plans comply with the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The Comp Plan has many goals, some of them contradictory and leaving plenty of gray area. There is certainly a strong case to be made that neighborhood character is a major component of the Comp Plan, and historic preservation is an integral part of that. Then, too, we have the Zoning Code, which is supposed to support the Comp Plan goals, but it often does not and can in fact be even more at odds with Comp Plan goals.
What do we do when these two planning tools seem to be at odds, which is the exception, not the rule? How can we ensure that the Zoning Code supports the comprehensive plan? One way is by using a zoning tool called the historic district overlay. This overlay simply adds a layer of review for exterior modifications, including demolition and new construction, by the Historic District Commission. Providence has seven neighborhoods with historic district overlays and one scattered site overlay (the Providence Landmarks District). These are described here.
Historic district overlays are most commonly implemented when there is a strong homeowner advocacy group, often organized through neighborhood associations. With a historic district overlay, it is much easier to stop demolition of historic properties and to regulate the design of new properties in historic neighborhoods.
If you want your home or neighborhood protected in perpetuity, contact PPS by email or at 401-831-7440 to learn more.
On November 8, the developer, who is planning to work with the zoning ordinance, met with neighbors of 288 Blackstone Boulevard. PPS Executive Director Brent Runyon organized the meeting with the assistance of real estate agent Jim DeRentis. Fifteen neighbors and friends heard from and gave feedback to developer Chris Bilotti and builder David Anisi. Concerns expressed by the neighbors included demolition of the historic properties, visual impact on streetscape, loss of mature trees and landscape features, environmental impacts during construction, lack of plans for architectural and materials salvage and others.