Over the past several months, our office has been working diligently to engage and inform the residents of Ward 1 on the development of Parcel 2, located along the Providence River at the edge of the College Hill and Fox Point neighborhoods. We have hosted virtual community meetings with each of the proposed developers and hundreds of community participants. Additionally, we have had ongoing discussions with the I-195 Redevelopment District, and we’ve held small meetings with each of the developers and neighborhood abutters who live near the site. We recently released a digital survey and received feedback via 75 written comments from neighborhood residents across the Ward. A letter sent to Commission with condensed feedback includes these concerns:
• The height of the three proposals is at odds with the community
• Lack of parking
• More green space is needed
“I am very cognizant of the complexities and the shifts in the market in light of the pandemic and deeply support economic growth and the creation of more residential housing stock in our city to address our ongoing housing crisis. However, residents who care deeply about our neighborhood should not bear the brunt of top-down development decisions that will have enormous implications on our neighborhoods for decades to come,” said Councilman Goncalves.
“I join with and share in the concerns of Councilman Goncalves and the community regarding the development of Parcel 2. It is critical that the I-195 Commission listen to the voices of the neighborhood and address community feedback in considering projects for this land,” said House Majority Leader, Christopher Blazejewski.
Moreover, concerns loom about the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission diverting from the original mission of creating a true Providence Innovation & Design District and life-sciences mecca full of vibrant “knowledge-based” jobs in information technology, engineering, biomedical, biotechnology, and other fast-growing sectors. In letters both to the Governor and the Commission, I respectfully request we:
• Formalize and establish a task force/commission of neighborhood abutters/representatives and local businesses who can help the commission develop Requests for Proposals
• Creating a panel of neighborhood experts with expertise in architectural design, zoning, planning, development, and historic preservation to ensure exceptional architecture, design, and sensitivity to the historic vibrancy of our neighborhood to complement the commission’s urban design consultants and Downtown Design Review Committee (DDRC) review during the Design Review Process
• A more comprehensive road planning and development plan is required to proactively address, and mitigate concerns of traffic flow, parking, and congestion
In the coming days, we will present a list of undersigned constituents who agree with these recommendations. We are looking forward to a formal response in writing and we are appreciative of all parties for their cooperation and good faith in advance. We look forward to working collaboratively to strengthen the District and ultimately, serve the people of our neighborhoods, the Capital City, and the State at large.