Parcel 42 – Fane Tower
On Wednesday, February 15, the Fane Organization presented design adjustments presented to the I-195 Commission in response to neighborhood concerns as well as Utile Inc’s design concerns that recommended the Commission not grant design approval. These concerns included adverse wind impacts, and unsatisfactory tower design, podium design, and site activation plan. The Fane Tower design team stated that the tower’s design was meant to be a “Tower in the park,” and therefore did not need to align with the abutting neighborhoods’ architectural fabric. They also showcased some minimal design interventions to combat adverse wind impacts and site activation challenges. A decision regarding approval of the new design and whether the Fane Organization will be granted yet another extension will occur at the March 15th Commission meeting. PPS does not feel that these interventions are nearly enough to justify approval of the new design, and that to offer yet another extension is inappropriate. Read PPS’ comments regarding the latest Fane Tower adjustments.
On Wednesday, January 18, the Fane Tower design was presented to the I-195 Commission. The Commission’s design consultant, Utile Inc., recommended that the Commission not grant design approval, citing adverse wind impacts, and unsatisfactory tower design, podium design, and site activation plan. The Commission requested that the Fane Organization provide research regarding the concerns brought forth by Utile, and a final decision was continued to a future meeting. You can read PPS’ comments to the Commission here.
The new design for Fane Tower (Parcel 42) was presented at the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Historic Commission (RIHPHC) meeting on Wednesday morning in preparation for I-195 Commission consideration. The design has not changed since it was revealed in December, featuring rounded edges, reduced parking, and two additional residential floors. The total building height remains at 550 feet. The public is encouraged to attend the I-195 Commission meeting on Wednesday, January 18 at 5:00 pm, usually held on the second floor of 225 Dyer Street. The exact agenda has not been released, but should be posted on the I-195 Commission website 48 hours before the meeting.
The Fane organization has submitted a new design to the 1-195 Commission for review. The new design includes less parking, more residential floors, and rounded-out edges (see image, courtesy of the Fane Organization). However, the height of the tower, 550 feet, remains unchanged. PPS continues to oppose the Tower’s extreme height and does not believe that the project is appropriate for the neighborhood. A date has not been set for the design review.
PPS has learned that the Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld the Superior Court’s decision that the Fane Tower proposal is not inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, thus ruling in favor of developer Jason Fane, the City Council, and the I-195 District Commission. PPS disagrees with this conclusion.
This disappointing news is a green light for the final sale agreement for Parcel 42 and the building of a grossly inappropriate 46-story, luxury residential tower on the west side of the Providence River. We will continue to closely watch this development.
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 book 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 Fane Tower: this week 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 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 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. As always, PPS will pass along news as we know it. Thank you for your continued interest and support.
The Providence Preservation Society is deeply disappointed by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission’s decision on September 25 to approve three zoning waivers and grant final design review approval to Fane Tower LLC for a 46-story tower on Dyer Street. In its advisory role, the Downtown Design Review Committee voted unanimously on April 8 to recommend that the I-195 Commission deny conceptual design approval.
Following a lengthy presentation by developer Jason Fane, his architect, and attorney, and a summary by Tim Love of Utile, the commission’s design consultant, commissioners heard an hour-and-a-half of public comment. Twenty-nine community members spoke eloquently, passionately, and thoughtfully in opposition to the waivers and design. Speakers included City Councilors Helen Anthony (D-Ward 2) and Nirva LaFortune (D-Ward 3), former City Councilor Bryan Principe, PPS executive director Brent Runyon, PPS director of preservation Rachel Robinson, and PPS trustee Arria Bilodeau. Many others were in attendance to show their disapproval of this project and emailed comments to the commission. We truly appreciate the support of everyone who wrote, emailed, and expressed their opposition in other ways.
By contrast, only five individuals spoke in favor of the project; four of them were construction union leaders.
Unfortunately, the I-195 Commission was not swayed by the overwhelming opposition and swiftly voted 5-1 to pass the pre-prepared motion that combined votes on the zoning waivers and final design review approval.
We know firsthand that public comments– your comments– do make a difference in the public review process, when it is allowed to happen. Even in the case of this tower, we have seen improvements in the design of the podium (or first six floors) because of public comment and design review by the DDRC.
PPS continues to oppose inappropriate developments like the Hope Point Tower that denigrate and encroach on, and in fact will annex, public park land (P4). We continue to question the financial and market feasibility of this project as well as the environmental impact of such a structure on the bank of the Providence River.
More information here.
An important public meeting of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission takes place this Wednesday, September 25, and the Fane Organization’s tower is on the agenda. Fane is seeking FINAL design approval and FOUR zoning waivers.
Join PPS on Wednesday to voice opposition to this grossly inappropriate tower on Parcel 42 and reconfigured P4– public park land. PLEASE NOTE: the meeting will take place at 5 pm at District Hall, 225 Dyer Street (map).
If you cannot attend, send comments to the Commission to Amber Ilcisko (email@example.com).
On June 22, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a $9.9m state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The Senate will vote this week.
The budget includes a carved-out $25m tax credit for the Fane Organization’s Hope Point Tower, while the State is simultaneously stripping control of I-195 land from the City of Providence and suspending the State Historic Tax Credit program with over 60 projects on the waiting list.
We strongly urge you to take a moment and contact your state senator and tell him/her to veto this budget with an absurd $25m benefit for ONE developer of a project that is neither wanted nor needed by a majority of Providence voters.
Call or email now! A vote in the Senate is expected this week.
In response to the Hope Point Tower activity of the last two years, Senate President Ruggerio has introduced the Rhode Island Special Economic Development District Enabling Act (S-0803), which would bypass the City of Providence in matters of planning and design on land in the I-195 Redevelopment District.
PPS believes that the bill is an unnecessary legislative overreach on the part of the state and retaliatory in nature against the City of Providence. It is a transparent reaction by certain members of the Senate to the laborious process over the last two years of achieving spot-zoning at Parcel 42 for the Hope Point Tower development proposal.
We have learned that the bill will be considered on Tuesday, June 4 by the Senate Judiciary Committee in Room 313 at the State House. Public comment is not expected at this stage of the Judiciary Committee’s proceedings, however you can protest with your presence. We also strongly encourage you to reach out to your state senator to oppose S-0803.
You may have seen that, in response to the Hope Point Tower activity of the last two years, Senate President Ruggerio has introduced the Rhode Island Special Economic Development District Enabling Act (S-0803), which would bypass the City of Providence in matters of planning and design on land in the I-195 Redevelopment District. More details here and here.
The Rhode Island chapter of the American Planning Association has testified against this legislation. See their statement here.
You spoke and the DDRC heard you! Thank you to all who wrote in and spoke up at the Downtown Design Review Committee hearing on Monday, April 8. The DDRC voted unanimously to reject 3 of 4 waivers requested by the Fane Organization and to deny conceptual design approval.
The DDRC serves in an advisory capacity to the I-195 Redevelopment District. PPS will continue to monitor this project and alert you when we know more about the next steps.
Conceptual Design Review by the Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC) occurs Monday, 4/8/2019! The meeting will take place at 4:45 pm at 444 Westminster Street. PPS strongly urges you to attend and sign up to comment upon arrival
The Fane Organization presented their project to the DDRC at a pre-application review meeting on March 11 where the Committee expressed the following issues and/or concerns related to the proposal:
• The overall mass, scale and height of the building and its relationship with other buildings in the Downtown District, particularly in the adjacent D1-100 and D1-120 zones.
• A podium design that engages with the tower, and with the adjacent park. The DDRC was
especially concerned with the opacity of the ground floor elevation facing the park.
The Committee suggested a more uniform podium and tower design, and an improved connection between the building and the adjacent park. It is the DDRC staff’s opinion that the applicant has not satisfactorily addressed these issues and concerns.
PPS strongly encourages you to attend the hearing tonight and voice your opposition and concerns. You may also send a comment via email to DDRC staff.
Attend: The April 8 DDRC meeting (4:45 pm at 444 Westminster Street) is your next opportunity to publicly voice opposition to the design and scale of the tower. PPS strongly urges you to attend and sign up to comment upon arrival.
Email: You can send your comment in advance to DDRC via staff (Chris Ise at firstname.lastname@example.org). Indicate Hope Point Tower in the subject line and sign with your name and street address.
Give: PPS is supporting a lawsuit brought by Building Bridges to challenge the blatant violation of the Comprehensive Plan. If you are interested in aiding the appeal, email email@example.com.
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.
Objection over the proposed Hope Point Tower reaches a critical review on Monday, April 8, and this is your chance to speak! PPS continues to argue against the total disregard for local zoning, and we now have the opportunity to comment on the glaringly inappropriate design of the 46-story tower. Join PPS in this fight!
One year ago, the Fane Organization petitioned the City Plan Commission (CPC) for changes to the Providence zoning ordinance and zoning map to allow for a 600′ tower to be built in a 100′ district. The CPC voted to deny this request, followed by a denial by the City Council’s Committee on Ordinances. City Council’s override of a mayoral veto occurred in December and the project moved forward.
Now, the tower proposal goes before the Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC), acting in an advisory capacity to the I-195 Redevelopment District, for conceptual design review. There will be public comment. The Fane Organization is requesting FOUR waivers (see below from the DDRC agenda):
We expect that The Fane Organization’s Hope Point Tower proposal will be on the April 8 agenda of the Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC) for conceptual design review. PPS will confirm the date when the agenda is released.
In December, the City Council overrode the Mayor’s veto of the outrageous zoning changes (100’ to 600’) required for this project to move forward. The DDRC is serving an advisory role to the I-195 District, meaning their vote isn’t binding, but it does matter. The next two steps for the developer are conceptual design review and final design review. Both steps include the opportunity for public comment.
The April 8 DDRC meeting (4:45 pm at 444 Westminster Street) is your next opportunity to publicly voice opposition to the design and scale of the tower. PPS strongly urges you to attend and comment. Or email your comment in advance to the DDRC via staff (Chris Ise at firstname.lastname@example.org). If emailing, indicate Hope Point Tower in the subject line and sign with your name and address.
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 known as Hope Point Tower, but we believe it will decrease HOPE for Providence if it is allowed to be built at 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. Help protect Providence’s unique and irreplaceable landscapes and viewscapes by standing up for established development guidelines. Speak up at the DDRC meeting on April 8!
In addition to keeping you updated on this major project and encouraging public participation and opposition, PPS is supporting a lawsuit brought by Building Bridges to challenge the blatant violation of the Comprehensive Plan. If you are interested in supporting the appeal, email email@example.com.
At the March 11th Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC) meeting, the Fane Organization presented its tower proposal at 250 Dyer Street (aka Parcel 42) for pre-application review; there was no public comment. The DDRC is serving an advisory role to the I-195 District.
You will recall that in December, the City Council overrode the Mayor’s veto of the outrageous zoning changes required for this project to move forward. The next two steps for the developer are conceptual and final design review, which include the opportunity for public comment. The DDRC meets next on April 8, and PPS will keep you posted on the agenda so that you can plan to attend and voice opposition.
Following the override of the Mayor’s veto on December 13, the City Council rewrote Providence’s Zoning Ordinance, amending the maximum zoning height of what is called Parcel 42 of the I-195 district to 600 feet. There are now two sets of questions: how we continue to fight and what are the next steps in the process?
First, the process. Anyone wishing to appeal must do within 30 days from the date of enactment (December 14). An appeal to the Superior Court and possibly the Supreme Court would be based on an argument that the zoning change violates the Comprehensive Plan. There are also some procedural arguments that could be made. If an appeal is made, then it could slow the development process down by a few months to a year and a half, or more.
On Wednesday, December 19, the I-195 Commission updated its terms of sale which was reported on by Dan McGowan. What this means is that the construction likely won’t begin for several years. A recession has also been accounted for in the memorandum, meaning this site will likely remain vacant for several more years. Perhaps that’s a good thing for our park (on parcel P4) considering what the Fane Organization contemplates building.
There was no public testimony on Wednesday, but we want policy makers to know that we have been opposed to this project from the beginning and have fought to preserve a well-developed comprehensive plan, which the City Council has now jeopardized. In the meantime, we are pleased to see that the I-195 Commission has put in place serious benchmarks and performance measures to hold the Fane Organization accountable. Because there are real questions about the financial viability of this project, PPS and the citizens of Rhode Island will be watching to ensure that the Commission holds them to this agreement, and ensure that they don’t ask the State and City for any further subsidies than what they’ve already claimed, namely over $80M in tax stabilization, $15M in Rebuild RI tax credit and a likely waiver of taxes on building materials. Because Parcel 42 could be considered to be the most valuable parcel in the I-195 corridor, our entire coalition will be vigilant to ensure the citizens of Providence are the beneficiaries of this development.
You should also know that public testimony will be critical a little later in the process. During the development process, the developer will be subject to design review by Providence’s Downtown Design Review Commission, which is advisory to the I-195 Commission, which holds public hearings.
Next, what can one do to continue the fight against what we believe is a bad development project for that site? As mentioned above, there is the possibility of an appeal. If you are interested in being involved in an appeal, either as an appellant or with financial support, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond that, we need your help to advocate with our elected state representatives to ensure that any legislation intended to remove the City’s zoning authority over the I-195 district land is defeated. While we believe that it is technically illegal under the State’s constitution, advocacy will be needed to ensure the City won’t have to enter into costly litigation against the state. Once we know the legislation has been filed, we’ll ask you to be in touch with your elected representatives.
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
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 email@example.com
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.
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).
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.