Parcel 42 – Fane Tower

The City Plan Commission found the zoning changes inappropriate. The City Council’s own Ordinance Committee voted against the changes–TWICE–following an unprecedented second public hearing to accommodate the developer’s schedule, or strategy. Mayor Elorza intervened with his veto power due to concerns over the project.  And yet, on Thursday 10 members of the City Council overrode the Mayor’s veto to accommodate one developer’s assault on Providence’s zoning ordinance.  

PPS appreciates Councilwoman Harris’ diligent consideration of the project when the weight of a super majority vote landed on her shoulders.  But we are sorely disappointed that she reversed her previous vote against the zoning changes, thus allowing this grossly inappropriate project to move forward.

Meanwhile, during this long, drawn out process the General Assembly has taken land from the future public park at Parcel P4 and reconfigured Parcel 42 (site of the proposed tower) to, again, accommodate one developer.  And Senate President Ruggerio has publicly vowed to remove the City of Providence, which he views as an impediment, from the development and design review of any building in the I-195 District. (Note: the I-195 Commission does not include a single architect or design professional).

PPS considers City Council’s determination to change the zoning rules for one developer an insult to the appropriately scaled and designed development (new construction and adaptive reuse) presently under construction or in the pipeline throughout downtown and an insult to the local developers and architects driving this work.

ICYMI: Councilman Sam Zurier Discusses Fane Tower on the Public’s Radio

 

TAKE ACTION:

  • Save the date for the PPS Annual Meeting on Thursday, January 24, where Tom Mayes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation will share insights from his new book Why Old Places Matter. PPS believes that Providence matters and has for nearly 400 years.

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The Providence Preservation is part of a diverse coalition that advocated for the Providence City Council to conduct appropriate due diligence on the Fane Tower before advancing a drastic and harmful zoning change. Other members of the coalition include:

The Jewelry District Association, Building Bridges Providence, Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy, West Broadway Neighborhood Association, Summit Neighborhood Association, College Hill Neighborhood Association, Fox Point Neighborhood Association, Downtown Neighborhood Association, Washington Park Association, Mile of History Association, Elmwood Neighborhood Association, South Providence Neighborhood Association, and the 1,800 people who signed the Petition Against the Fane Tower.

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.

The letter (2018 04 Parcel 42 Letter) we sent to elected and appointed decision-makers.

Read Mayor Elorza’s statement on his veto of the Fane Tower proposal.

Read our letter to City Council urging them to uphold the Mayor’s veto.

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


Previously

Read Mayor Elorza’s statement on his veto of the Fane Tower proposal.

Read our letter to City Council urging them to uphold the Mayor’s veto.

ICYMI: Providence Preservation Society’s Brent Runyon talks Hope Point Tower on the Dan Yorke Show (skip to 8:20).

Despite a majority of City Council members present yesterday for a special meeting, the Council voted to reschedule the vote to override Mayor Elorza’s veto to Thursday, December 13 at 6 pm.

Proponents of the Fane Tower and an override of the Mayor’s veto must have the vote of Ward 8 Councilman Wilbur Jennings and one additional vote. Councilman Jennings was absent, as was Ward 1 City Councilman Seth Yurdin, an opponent of the zoning changes and override. PPS joined neighbors and community leaders at the meeting last night and listened in disbelief as a majority of Council members present rescheduled this critical vote to accommodate their success.

Council members Harris, LaFortune, Principe, Yurdin, and Zurier voted against the Fane Tower proposal at the two readings last month. Council President David Salvatore, who abstained from voting on the change to the ordinance, has previously said he is against an override of the mayor’s veto.  If you live in one of their wards, please thank them and encourage them to stand strong in their opposition to the zoning changes.


Mayor Elorza demonstrated leadership and political courage when he listened to his constituents and vetoed the City Council’s approval of zoning changes required for the Fane Tower proposal. Today, the City Council will attempt to override the Mayor’s veto with a super majority, or 2/3 vote. That means that the nine councilpersons who voted for this inappropriate development and affront to Providence’s comprehensive zoning ordinance need only one more vote for the Mayor’s veto to be overridden.

We invite all members of the public to attend Tuesday’s special City Council meeting at 4:30 pm at the Council Chamber on the 3rd floor of City Hall. Stand with us once again and call on the City Council to uphold the veto and reject this questionable proposal that would have significant long-term negative impacts on Providence and our state.

Council members Harris, LaFortune, Principe, Yurdin, and Zurier voted against against this measure at the two readings last month. Council President David Salvatore, who abstained from voting on the change to the ordinance, has previously said he is against an override of the mayor’s veto.  If you live in one of their wards, please thank them and encourage them to stand strong in their opposition to the zoning changes.  

Council members Aponte, Castillo, Correia, Hassett, Igliozzi, Jennings, Narducci, and Ryan voted in favor of the grossly non-conforming development; Councilwoman Matos abstained the first time, and then voted for it. We URGE you to log your opposition if you live and vote in one of their wards.


The People of Providence Deserve Answers!

City Council Gives Final Approval to Fane Proposal

At a second reading of the petition on Tuesday, City Council voted 9-5-1 to approve the zoning changes requested by Jason Fane for his 46-story tower proposal at Parcel 42. This, in spite of impassioned pleas by Council Members Principe and LaFortune to their colleagues on the Council to change their minds and words of disappointment from Councilman Yurdin after the vote.

Now it is up to Mayor Jorge Elorza to sign or veto the measure by Friday, November 30 or it can pass without his signature. We strongly encourage you to contact Mayor Elorza to VETO the zoning changes required for Fane Tower. Download our letter template that can be signed and sent or hand-delivered directly to the Mayor’s office. You may also contact him by phone at 401-421-2489, or by email at mayor@providenceri.gov


City Council Approves Fane Tower Zoning Change Request

On Thursday, November 15, the City Council voted 8-5-2 to approve a petition to rezone Parcel 42 of the I-195 District to a height of 600′, six times the allowable height, in clear violation of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. They intend to hold a second hearing on Tuesday, November 20, 5:30 pm, at City Hall. No public comment will be taken.

In anticipation of Tuesday’s special vote, impassioned City Council members (current, former, and future) and community leaders joined PPS at a press conference at City Hall on Monday, November 19. PPS Trustee Miguel Quezada summed up PPS’s position on this critical issue: “We are PRO-development, but PROper development.”

While the Council has hosted two public meetings on the Fane proposal, it has failed to ask the developer any of the basic questions that would be expected for a project of this magnitude.  Click here for a breakdown of these important questions. You can also read what developer Dick Galvin had to say about the proposal in his editorial in Tuesday’s Providence Journal.


Ordinance Committee Approves Fane Tower Zoning Change Request

The City Council Ordinance Committee met on November 8. They are sending a recommendation to the full Council to approve the Fane Organization’s rezoning request. City Council members Terry Hassett, Jo-Ann Ryan and Carmen Castillo cast positive votes. Council member Mary Kay Harris abstained and Council member Bryan Principe cast the lone nay vote. The matter will be considered at the Thursday, November 15 City Council Meeting.


 
Last Monday, the City Council’s Ordinance Committee hosted a public hearing on the zoning changes required for the Fane Organization’s Hope Point Tower on Parcel 42.  Although the Committee had already voted to deny the zoning change at a previous public hearing, on September 6 the full City Council voted to send the petition back to the Ordinance Committee for further review.
 
At the October 22 Ordinance Committee public hearing, the Fane development team made an hour-long presentation, much of which involved the same witnesses and information from the April City Plan Commission hearing. Following the presentation, citizens both in favor of and opposed to the project and the zoning changes provided 2.5 hours of public comment. A vote is expected at an upcoming Ordinance Committee meeting; PPS will notify you when the agenda is set.
 
Check out videos of testimony from Executive Director Brent Runyon, Director of Preservation Rachel Robinson, and City Councilman Seth Yurdin. A full record of the hearing can be found here, thanks to Uprise RI.

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.


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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