Directly adjacent to the Providence River, Parcel 1A is a former City-owned property and site of a helipad that is now under the purview of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. In 2017, a development firm received Level 1 approval to move forward with a boutique hotel proposal on this small (.28 acres) and challenging lot. Other projects that have been proposed to the Commission include a heritage visitor center and a public sculpture garden. It is currently used as a passive park and the location of Providence Flea and numerous festivals.
Development on this site requires a waiver from the Coastal Resources Management Council because the Urban Coastal Greenway dictates a 25-foot construction setback from the seawall. New construction at this site would constitute the only building west of South Water Street between Crawford Street and Point Street Bridges. The parcel is also just north of the pedestrian bridge currently being constructed that will link College Hill and Fox Point to downtown.
The I-195 Commission’s design guidelines for Parcel 1A call for ground floor transparency and historic alignment to 3 former gangways; and prohibit surface parking lots or structures and curb cuts. The guidelines provide height bonuses for up to two additional stories, making a 6-story building with active ground floor use and publicly-accessible open space, among other requirements, possible.
The community member who nominated Parcel 1A for MEP noted that, “development will diminish the feeling of it being a public walk—though the boardwalk will remain, it may deter passersby by interrupting the landscape with a large private, commercial establishment.” The I-195 Commission has been clear about its intention to develop this parcel, however, they should consider the appropriateness of new construction on this site that hugs the Providence River. Resiliency and environmental consideration of the site should prevail along with public use, access, and amenity.
There’s finally news on the boutique hotel proposal at this former MEP and Sites & Stories property. We’d been left wondering if this project was dead or mostly dead for awhile, but at last week’s I-195 District meeting it was announced that the developer is no longer seeking a CRMC waiver (due to construction setback from the urban coastal greenway), thus the Commission considers the proposal abandoned and will re-issue a RFP for the parcel. PPS advocates for development at this site to be reconsidered in deference to environmental resiliency and its current status as a public amenity.
In 2018-2019, PPS commissioned Rhode Island-based artists to create original works of art for four sites included on the 2018 Most Endangered Properties list. Deborah Spears Moorehead explored the Colonial, Industrial, and Contemporary uses of Providence waterways. Her work resulted in a mural that addresses several aspects of water usage, including how bodies of water can sustain differing cultures.
Unveiling Ceremony for Parcel 1A mural by Deborah Spears Moorehead