Parcel 42 – Fane Tower

 

A proposal is winding its way through the legal processes necessary to receive approval to build a 30- to 46-story residential tower on Providence’s riverfront. Read below for more on this and refer to the letter (2018 04 Parcel 42 Letter) we sent to elected and appointed decision-makers.

The Providence Preservation Society has grave concerns about this proposal, which is to be sited on the northern portion of Parcel 42 (and part of P4 – a planned public park) in the I-195 Redevelopment District. This proposal is currently known as Hope Point Tower, but we believe it will decrease HOPE for Providence if our elected leaders allow it to be built on that location.

This proposal fails to meet existing development and design guidelines set forth by the City and the State. It is wrong for Providence.

Read below for the recent actions and next steps, then skip to here to read more about why this proposal is wrong for Providence.


The City Council has referred the proposal BACK to the Ordinance Committee. A public hearing will take place on October 22, 2018, 5:30pm in Council Chambers. This will be a public hearing, so we encourage everyone to attend and make your voice heard. Arrive early to make sure you get a spot!

On October 1, Senate President Ruggerio suggested he would remove zoning authority from the City Council because he doesn’t like the fact that this inappropriate, poorly thought-out project isn’t sailing through the approvals process. Article 

Read about Mayor Elorza and Council President Salvatore’s response to Ruggerio’s proposal here.

CALL TO ACTION:

  • Join PPS at the City Council Chamber on Monday, October 22 at 5:30 pm. The public will be able to speak at this hearing, so please review the following guidelines on public comment:
    • When you arrive at the hearing, sign (legibly) the sheet in the middle of the room if you would like to make a public comment.  NOTE: there will likely be 2 sign-up sheets.  Sign the one in OPPOSITION of the zoning changes.
    • When your name is called, proceed to the table in front of the committee.  State your FIRST and LAST NAME and STREET ADDRESS before you make your comment.
    • The acoustics in City Council Chamber are poor. 
    • Speak clearly and confidently into the microphone.  It’s ok to be nervous– you will not be the only one! It is perfectly acceptable to say that you are opposed to the zoning changes for the reasons stated by the people who spoke before you.
  • We urge you to WRITE, EMAIL or CALL your councilperson today to:
    • Ask how he/she will vote on this issue
    • Voice your opposition to this project and its non-compliance with the comprehensive plan
    • Cite points in PPS’s letter of opposition.
  • Help us reach 1,000 signatures on our petition to let the City Council and Mayor know that we want them to abide by the rules, rather than let them be trampled by vested interests.
  • Make a financial contribution to the cause! A campaign like this requires attorneys and expert witnesses. Help us to underwrite these services and donate now.

 

Previously…

The Fane Tower proposal for Parcel 42 is heading to City Council.

The Fane Organization’s petition for changes to the zoning ordinance and zoning map will be on the City Council agenda Thursday, September 6th at 7 pm. After the CPC and City Council’s own Ordinance Committee voted NOT to recommend the changes, the full City Council will take up the matter.

PPS encourages all concerned citizens to attend this meeting! More details can be found below.

Many City Council members have spoken publicly about the proposal, including Council President David Salvatore, who released a statement opposing the project this month. Where does your councilperson stand on this issue?

Councilman Seth Yurdin: “We will keep opposing the Fane tower on I-195 land. Fane ignores years of public input that created our City Plan and zoning.” “If we move forward with approving this spot zoning proposal, we are telling all those people that their input does not matter.”

Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune: The councilwoman said that her community doesn’t support the project in its current location. “Before we can develop a luxury apartment complex, we have to decide how to mitigate the affordable housing crisis that is currently impacting our city.”

Councilman Sam Zurier: “I have decided to vote against approval of the Hope Point Tower…The location this developer chose is not compatible with the City’s overall development goals.”

Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan: Councilwoman Ryan was the sole yes vote for the proposal at July’s Ordinance Committee meeting. “This is a huge investment. We need to find a way to make it work.”

After hours-long public hearings, the Fane Organization’s request for 3 changes to the zoning ordinance has been rejected not once, but twice!

On May 15th, the City Plan Commission issued a ringing vote (5-2) against recommending it to the City Council. On July 18th, the City Council’s Ordinance Committee voted (3-1-1) against recommending the zoning change.

Recently, we scored another victory when City Council President David Salvatore stated his opposition to the proposal (more here).  We commend the six other councilmembers who have publicly voiced opposition to the proposed zoning changes: Principe, Hassett, Zurier, Yurdin, LaFortune, and Harris.

Now it’s time to apply pressure to all members of City Council to let them know this tower project is not in the best interests of the city or its residents– in the short or long term.  We expect the zoning change petition will go before the full City Council on September 6th (7 pm at City Council Chamber, City Hall).


On 7/18,

Last night, the five-member City Council Ordinance Committee witnessed a true display of representative democracy, as hundreds of residents came out to voice their opinions. Ultimately, the Committee made the correct decision in a 3-1-1 vote to DENY the request for a zoning change for Parcel 42.

In all, 34 residents spoke in opposition to the zoning change and 73 more submitted letters. Providence residents from at least nine neighborhoods were united in opposition to the change and in support of Providence’s future. Only nine residents spoke in favor of the change, with an additional nine proponents submitting letters.

The work is not done yet. This decision to deny the request for a zoning change was strictly advisory. The full City Council will hear this proposal in the coming weeks – we will provide dates as soon as they become available.

The proposal for a 46-story tower on I-195 District Parcel 42 in the Jewelry District was reviewed by the City Plan Commission (CPC) on 4/25 and 5/15.  After public comment that was overwhelmingly in opposition to the tower, the CPC sent a recommendation to City Council to deny the proposal to change zoning from 100′ to 600′.

On 3/1, Senate President Ruggerio introduced Senate bill 2556 that will allow the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to “alter” the boundaries of Parcel 4 in the I-195 Development District.  This would effectively allow the I-195 Commission to take away land from the proposed riverfront park (on Parcel 4) and allocate it to Parcel 42 for development of the tower.  The Rhode Island General Assembly voted to pass S.2556 and Governor Raimondo signed the bill into law.

Next, the proposal will head to the City Council Committee on Ordinances for a public hearing. From there, it goes to the full City Council for two public hearings.  The City Council Committee on Ordinances has scheduled a public hearing regarding the proposal on 7/18 at 5:30 pm – City Council Chamber (Third Floor, City Hall).

We urge the City Council to “Keep it 100” and maintain the current, 100′ height limit on that site. Other sites in the city are more suitable for a very tall building, such as the 300′ height limit zones in the financial district and near I-95.

At the May 15th City Plan Commission (CPC) hearing, the board voted to deny a recommendation to City Council regarding Fane’s petition for THREE changes to the Zoning Ordinance and ONE change to the Zoning Map of the City of Providence to allow his tower proposal to move forward.

In a 5-2 vote, the CPC found that the proposed changes are not in compliance with the comprehensive plan. See this ProJo article for a summary of the hearing.

Over the course of two CPC public hearings (4/25 and 5/15), 28 individuals spoke in opposition of the proposed Fane Tower and 16, mostly labor representatives, voiced support. Comments were also submitted to the CPC via email and letter.

Thank you to all of you who spoke up and wrote in. Your voices were heard by the commissioners!


This proposal fails to meet existing development and design guidelines set forth by the City and the State. It is wrong for Providence.

This proposal, which has been shown to be financially unfeasible, is diverting time and resources from the construction and redevelopment that Providence is currently experiencing. It is distracting from key issues of economic growth, job creation, affordable housing, and long-term environmental sustainability.
Why are we spending time on this when deserving and realistic projects can’t secure the funding or attention they need? There are more than 60 projects awaiting historic tax credits, but the General Assembly doesn’t support that type of incentive.

We find that this application for a tower on Parcel 42 defies universal urban planning and preservation principles, namely:

It requires SPOT ZONING. The current maximum height is 130’, per the 2014 zoning ordinance. Spot zoning gives preferential treatment to an applicant seeking a use or form wholly at odds with a city’s zoning ordinance. It also sets a poor precedent and could open the floodgates to other projects in every neighborhood in Providence. If the City Council approves a change in zoning for this single parcel, they are prioritizing a single out-of-state developer over the agency and intent of the people of this city.

The SCALE is wrong. The scale that has developed organically in Providence over the past three centuries, and which is one of the city’s best attributes, would be compromised and adversely affected. It will overwhelm the park and riverfront, public amenities we have invested in developing over the past several decades.

It does not benefit the life of the STREETSCAPE. The planned six-story parking podium, in this location, is detrimental to an active and enjoyable streetscape

What is the PUBLIC BENEFIT associated with such a SUBSIDY? The public is asked to give this developer tax incentives (ReBuild RI, Tax Stabilization, Sales Tax Abatement, etc.) yet beyond three years of construction jobs, what is the benefit to the public?

PPS supports appropriate, well-planned, and realistic new development. This type of development should comply with publicly determined zoning. New development should contribute to an active and enjoyable streetscape. New development should have significant public benefit. This proposal does none of these things.

We call on Mayor Elorza, the Providence City Council, Governor Raimondo, and our elected leaders in the General Assembly to reject this proposal and to redirect their energies toward long-lasting job creation, appropriate new development, and redevelopment of cherished icons such as the Industrial Trust Building and the Cranston Street Armory, among others.

 

 

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