2022 to 2023:
(As of March 15, 2023) PPS and the Mile of History Association have weighed in on the most recent proposal by Urbanica. As of March 15, 2023, there are design changes being made to take into account concerns of the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (state agency). PPS is working behind the scenes to effect a good outcome for whatever is built on Parcel 2 and will become a vocal advocate during the public participation process. Representative images of the most current proposal can be seen on the I-195 Commission’s website.
The Commission issued a new RFP and received three proposals for Parcel 2. PPS’ Planning & Architectural Review Committee heard from each of them and issued feedback to each. Our letter to the 195 Commission is here. Ultimately, Urbanica was selected and has been moving through the process to win final approval.
In 2018, there were several interesting proposals for Parcels 2, 5 and 6. None of them were accepted by the Commission. We present them here for reference. These parcels are in the College Hill National Register Historic District and therefore are of particular concern as to how new buildings constructed there will impact the district. PPS’ Planning & Architectural Review Committee received a presentation from all three developers and submitted feedback to them and to the 195 Commission. The thrust of our letters is presented below in quotation marks. You can also read the RIHPHC letter to the 195 Commission here for context.
“We know that [the 195 Commission] join with us in recognizing that the 195 District parcels on the East Side have a different character, history, and challenges as those located on the west side of the river in the Jewelry District. In particular, the location of Parcels 2, 5, and 6 can, if developed successfully, reconnect the Fox Point neighborhood to the riverbank and provide a more hospitable welcome to the East Side from the I-195 off-ramp at the junction of commercial Wickenden Street. The development will also re-engage and re-activate the South Main Street and South Water Street corridor. Clearly, the chosen project(s) should take into account these competing factors, and we believe that each development team considered location and that the Spencer Group, in particular, contemplated the history of the site.
PPS feels strongly that a mix of development design teams throughout the district and within the parcels in question will help to foster a more organic, rather than imposed and suburban, result—and that is desirable. Providence’s existing historical fabric was not built in one time period by one builder or architect, which produces the varied styles of architecture that give our city its character and interest.”
PPS and neighbors were particularly in favor of the Spencer Group’s proposal (parcels 2 and 5) because it was most compatible with the scale, massing, design articulation and materiality of the College Hill and Fox Point neighborhoods. PPS viewed the mix of historic and contemporary designs favorably. The pedestrian scale of the buildings and mix of uses were deemed a good fit for this location. PPS also appreciated the new designs that referenced buildings that are no longer extant.
“PPS views this project as presenting the most sensitivity to neighbors and pedestrians and with an appreciation of the view corridors. The variety and density of retail use and richness in texture of the overall design are much appreciated. The only real concern was the feasibility of below-grade parking. PPS believes this team’s approach and design were the strongest.”
See their proposal here. (Parcels 2, 5, 6): “While the team recognizes the importance of these parcels as the gateway to the city, we are concerned about their track record in Providence (i.e. the demolition of the Fruit and Produce Warehouse) and the potential for suburbanization and homogeneity in design. The team was thoughtful in its approach to inter-site circulation and proximity to the river.”
See their proposal here. (Parcel 5): “We noted that this group is the only one to propose the engagement of local artists to individualize the design. Although this is their standard practice in other locales, it is a welcome and appropriate nod to the Creative Capital. We appreciate the team’s holistic approach to the design and layout, however there is concern over minimal retail space and the lack of public connection to and pedestrian engagement with the building.”
Parcel 42 —
Fane Tower Available!
After a few months of design review, during which the I-195 Commission’s own consultants advised against approving the tower as it was being proposed, this week, the Fane Organization announced that the project would not be moving forward. The complete story can be found in a recent WPRI.com story. PVDPreservation’s executive director Brent Runyon said “With this news, Providence and the I-195 Commission have the opportunity to accept proposals for development projects that will add to the vibrancy of the district and the downtown. The popularity of the park and riverfront have only grown in the time we’ve been subjected to this ludicrous proposal that has tied up two valuable parcels for far too long.”
The scariest prospect in Providence remains the Fane Tower on Parcel 42. In the wake of this luxury housing project moving forward at more than five times the height limit, the zoning and review process for the district were ripped up, the yet-to-be-completed public park was reduced in size by the General Assembly, and the developer continues to request deadline extensions. Read more about the status of this 2020 Most Endangered Property and the still pending lawsuit in a recent PBN article.
Unfortunate news to report regarding the Fae Tower: this wee Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Brian Stern ruled in favor of the developer, allowing the project to move forward. Judge Stern found the proposed nearly 600′ project to be in compliance with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. PPS, siding with the City Plan Commission, strongly disagrees. This decision is expected to be appealed to the Supreme Court. Two weeks ago, Fane met the I-195 Commission’s final deadline to pay the near $250,000 deposit, which was well overdue.
On November 18, the I-195 District Commission voted, during executive session, to grant a conditional extension to the Fane Organization. According to commission staff, Fane met the Friday, November 20 deadline and paid their outstanding deposit of $249,000.
Fane Tower is in a state of limbo. The developer missed the extended July 31 deadline for a deposit and continues to frustrate the I-195 District Commission. Read more here.
Fane Tower developer seeks postponement due to pandemic.
The proposed Hope Point Tower, a.k.a. “Fane Tower,” is moving ahead slowly. The next deadline is December 1 and Bob Davis, chair of the I-195 Redevelopment Commission, has said that there will be no more deadline extensions. More on that here and here. We can’t say if the development team will file for their tax treaty in time or if the Commission will grant yet another extension. We can tell you that the lawsuit filed by Building Bridges Providence and others is set to wrap up by year-end, or shortly thereafter.
Though ONE|Neighborhood Builders garnered strong community support, including that of PPS, last week the I-195 Redevelopment District voted to move forward with the proposal by Pennrose, LLC for Parcel 9 in Fox Point. Find our letter of comment to the I-195 District Commission here.
This parcel in the I-195 District currently has two proposals under review, one by local developer ONE|Neighborhood Builders (at right) and one by Philadelphia-based Pennrose, LLC. The I-195 District Commission will consider two proposals for Parcel 9 in Fox Point today (October 21) and vote to choose one to move forward. PPS’ Planning & Architectural Review Committee (PAR) was able to meet with both development teams, Pennrose LLC and ONE|Neighborhood Builders, and review the projects. Find our letter of comment to the I-195 District Commission here.
The I-195 Commission has publicly reviewed five proposals for Parcel 28 on the west side. Following presentations in April, Tim Love of Utile presented design/project analysis of each proposal followed by financial analysis by Real Estate Solutions Group. The projects vary in size, form, and use– from mixed use, residential to spec office space.
See each development team’s proposal under March 27 on the commission’s website and analysis by Utile and RES under supplemental materials for April 24.
A special meeting has been called for May 8. Public comment for Parcel 28 is on the agenda, followed by executive session for discussion and then a vote on the preferred developer.
In other I-195 news, executive director Peter McNally has resigned. Below is a list of recent news articles about the Commission.
The I-195 Commission is slated to review East Side parcels. We anticipate that at the November 14 meeting, the I-195 District Commission will consider the future of three parcels on the East Side– Parcels 2, 5, and 6. Three developers are vying for development rights on these lots, located between S. Water and S. Main Streets and flanking Wickenden Street.
Interested parties should attend. The Commission meets on Wednesday, November 14 at 5:00 pm at the RI Commerce Corporation (315 Iron Horse Way, Ste 101).
On August 28th, the agenda included a presentation by Biederman Redevelopment Ventures regarding park management for the riverside parks, currently under construction. Discussion of East Side parcels 2, 5, and 6 development was NOT on the agenda.
On May 9, the I-195 Commission hosted three developer presentations for Parcels 2, 5, and 6 on the East Side. Plans are available on the Commission’s website under the April 11 meeting. More info on the meeting here. Chairman Robert Davis invited the public to continue submitting comments through the summer as the Commission deliberates. At the June 21 Commission hearing, their consultant Utile will give a presentation on their assessment of the three proposals.