PPS joins in the anticipation surrounding the new public park currently under construction and spanning both sides of the river on former I-195 land. We are gravely concerned, however, that before the west side park is complete, land has been taken from it for private development of the Hope Point Tower.
Last year, we listed Parcel 1A on the East Side as an MEP citing inappropriate development as the threat. Also a I-195 District parcel, we were concerned that development of a boutique hotel on this site was not a viable development plan and not conforming to the setback standards required by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. Fortunately, this project has not moved forward.
Before construction of the new park broke ground and long before the Hope Tower succeeded in changing the city’s zoning ordinance and map, the sub-title of a March 9, 2018, Providence Journal article read, “Assembly OK on smaller park.” Shortly thereafter, the Senate and General Assembly passed bills to decrease the size of the park parcel (P4) by 23,004 square feet, or nearly 11 percent. In July, Governor Raimondo signed the bill into law, which paved the way for ultimate approval of the tower at the expense of the public amenity.
As the tower project develops in this new year, PPS will maintain a close eye on design review at the city level and further I-195 District activity. We will advocate to minimize the intrusion of a six-story podium (five levels of which are intended for structured parking) at the base of the tower—that can rise up to 600 feet now that the zoning ordinance has been changed. We want the design proposal to be as sensitive as possible to its park neighbor and not be a wall of louvered exhaust vents or an unwelcome eyesore on the west side of the park.
— 2019 Most Endangered Properties