VIDEO: Fane Tower Moves Forward— Providence City Council Approves Height Variance
Friday, November 16, 2018
The council 8-5 approved the measure to lift the 130-foot height limitation on so-called Parcel 42 and allow the $300 million Fane Tower project to be as tall as 600 feet. Presently, according to renderings provided by the developer, the tower would be 530 feet tall.
Council members Mary Kay Harris, Bryan Principe, Sam Zurier, Nirva LaFortune and Seth Yurdin voted against the measure to allow the variance, and Council President David Salvatore and Council President-Elect Sabina Matos abstained.
VIDEO: See Providence City Council Consideration on Fane Proposal BELOW
"I'd like to see some funding go towards the housing trust fund -- that has been my issue from the beginning," said Matos of her decision not to vote for or against the Fane Tower. "Do I have leverage? I'm trying to [but] it has been really tough. I wish we had the opportunity to have a different handling of the situation, especially when talking about affordable housing. I'm not against this project, I'd just like to see funding go towards affordable housing."
Salvatore, the part-time outgoing Council President and full-time lobbyist for the RI Realtors, had initially refused to take a position on the project before he announced his opposition to the Fane Tower -- then reverted back to a non-position on Thursday.
Dante Bellini, a spokesperson for Fane in Rhode Island, said they are optimistic that they have the votes when it comes to the council for second passage.
"We're happy and gratified we prevailed tonight but it's cautious optimism because we have to go through a second vote and we have to keep our fingers crossed that we'll prevail Tuesday night as well," said Bellini.
Bellini addressed Matos' call for affordable housing to be a required component of the ordinance. "I think it's extraneous -- we had the narrow issue of zoning tonight, and that's what we're going."
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The development comes after the Ordinance Committee changed course on November 8 and approved the variance; a special meeting of the City Council is expected to be scheduled for next week for second and final passage.
The $300 million project would be the largest private investment in the City of Providence since the Providence Place Mall in the 1990s.
On Wednesday, the Providence Preservation Society delivered nearly 1,800 signatures in opposition to the zoning change for Fane Tower.
Councilwoman LaFortune introduced an amendment Thursday night to ensure 15% of units on the parcel would be affordable housing, that the developer would contribute to the city housing fund if the stipulation was not net, and the owner would also be required to contribute financially to the city's parks and recreation program and more.
Council members including Terrence Hassett, however, said that the amendment was not germane to the requested zoning variance, and the amendment was defeated -- before the vote was taken by the full board.
"I'm pleased with the outcome, we prevailed with eight votes," said Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan "I'm confident we'll achieve second passage. This was not a TSA -- it was a petition for height relief which is squarely in the realm of the city council. I'm proud of my colleagues voting to support what I consider a historical once-in-a-generation development for the city of Providence."
On November 10, GoLocal reported that the project was moving quickly towards approvals in "Fane Tower May Be Approved Before Thanksgiving, Now On Fast Track."
Fane had joined GoLocal News Editor Kate Nagle in studio in October where he addressed some of the issues the opposition has focused on, from the tower's potential impact on the real estate market, and more.
"The local landlords who are worried about us as competition are basically saying we will be providing what people want to live in," said Fane. "Our effect on the competition will be a lot less than what they anticipate because Providence has 180,000 people and will have space for about 800 people an that would be distributed across the competition. And the population of Providence is growing party due to the government’s economic development programs and partly due to expansion of businesses and institutions that are already here."
"So it will actually be more than enough business for everybody but to the extent a particular landlord is having problems renting one of his apartments, I would advise him first look at the apartment and fix whatever’s wrong with it and if that doesn’t solve the problem take down the rent to what it really should be," said Fane.
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