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New “One Tower” Design for 195 in Providence Draws Mixed Reaction

Friday, December 09, 2016


The new "one-tower" proposal on 195 land has garnered mix reactions.

A new trimmed back proposal announced Thursday by New York developer Jason Fane to start with one tower — instead of the originally proposed three towers — on 195 land has drawn mixed reactions from elected officials and community leaders. 

City Council President Luis Aponte, who had criticized the first three tower proposal when it came out, said that he appreciated Fane’s willingness to take feedback.

“Looks like one evil tower is better than three,” said Aponte. “Look, it shows a willingness to understand the terrain and the concern of city leaders -- I am under impression that this was a negotiative process.”

SLIDES: See Reactions from Community Leaders BELOW

After releasing his three tower vision in November, Fane's new proposal, or "Phase One," is a proposed 43 story tower, which "will infuse a projected $150 million in new development into the state’s capitol city," according to the company.

“It's smaller scale, fewer units, and a different approach than proposed -- the design hasn't gotten better but that's something we can work on,” said Aponte. “We look forward to further discussions and I'm please with their enthusiasm that they want to move forward quickly.”

Maintaining Opposition

Jewelry District Association Vice-President Sharon Steele said that she opposed the original proposal, and opposes the new tower for similar reasons. 

Providence's skyline is set to change significantly in the coming years -- will a new tallest building in the city be part of it?

“When the original proposal happened, I said my immediate reaction was the scale was not right for that location. thought it would look great in Duba - but the scale was all wrong for Providence," said Steele. "That’s not saying we’re not ready for out-of-the-box thinking, but we’ve worked for the past ten years on bringing the park, and pedestrian bridge, to fruition.”

In his release Thursday, Fane acknowledge the opposition based on the towers’ size. 

“Some people think that our proposed towers will be much higher than the existing tall buildings in downtown Providence. In fact, the opposite is true. Some confusion was caused by the angle of the rendering, where perspective made Hope Point Towers look much taller than the other Providence towers including the so-called 'Superman' Building,” “Our phase one, 43 story tower, is only about 20 feet taller than the Superman building and includes both residential use and parking, which Superman does not.”

Steele said that it was not only the tower’s height, but how it is designed that she is concerned about how it would fit in the area. 

“These buildings - and this tower - are slated to be built on ‘podiums’ of five stories — that’s for parking,” said Steele. “116 Chestnut Street is six stories.  That would be just the platform — that will read like a wall, all along Dyer Street. Behind it is the park, and the river, and pedestrian bridge. The park would be in constant shadow, and then it becomes for all intents and purposes a private park for the towers.  We didn’t fight [the Paw Sox] stadium to end up with a five story podium for parking."

SLIDES: See More Reaction to the "One Tower" Proposal on 195 Land in Providence BELOW


Related Slideshow: Reactions to Fane’s “One Tower” Proposal on 195 - December 9, 2016

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Joseph Paolino

Former Mayor of Providence 

"If the developer thinks the market is there, and the state doesn't have to subsidize it - if someone wants to come in and spend hundreds of millions of their own money, we should try and make it easier, not more difficult. Yes, they’d be getting a tax stabilization but remember that property isn't paying taxes now -- highways have never paid property taxes.

As for people opposed to it, as my dad used to tell me, that's why Howard Johnson has 28 flavors -- everyone has their opinion on what's attractive or not attractive, what’s an addition to the skyline, or a detraction. But again, if someone wants to spend hundreds of millions and employ people and create housing and add an attractive element to the city, we should be embracing it."

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Travis Escobar

Project Manager, Public Policy at United Way of Rhode Island, founding member of the Millennial Professional Group of Rhode Island

“I’ve heard from young professionals who have left the state, citing our lack of development and opportunity as reasons why. If we want to tackle our brain-drain, young professionals and recent graduates need more opportunities to work and thrive.

While it's encouraging to see out-of-state developers wanting to invest in our state, any proposal should be given thoughtful review to truly understand how it can help our business community."

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Dan Baudouin

Executive Director, The Providence Foundation

"We certainly welcome outside investor and capital interest in downtown and growing the downtown residential community is one of our goals because of the many benefits that it brings.

However, this proposal is quite a departure from the plans that many have been developed for this area and thus requires  analysis, study and discussion. At this point, the Providence Foundation does not have sufficient information nor has had the time to discuss the project."

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Sharon Steele

Jewelry District Association Vice-President

“We need ‘live, work, and play’ -  in scale. We have 95 Chestnut with 60 plus units, Plot 30 with same developer with 90 units, so together that’s 150 units. Then we’ll have the two seven story towers, ‘River House', after South Street landing is completed, next to Davol Square. Then we’ll have 44 Hospital Street.

These are all the right scale, appropriate to the district, all ready to go — what we need is business, lab space, bio tech, start-ups - so that we have people who then need to live there.”


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