Waterfront charette winds dow

I wish I’d made it to more of these sessions — and Tuesday night’s meeting, the only one I was at, devolved into a free-for-all just after I arrived. The (almost) consensus seems that residences don’t make much sense on the waterfront, and I tend to agree with this. Residences can be built anywhere, while water-dependent industry and public uses can, by definition, only be built on the water. And people in high-end condos are likely to agitate against industry and public use immediately adjacent to their ritzy digs. A mixed-use zone that disallows residences strikes me as a reasonable compromise between the competing factions.

Part of the problem with this dynamic, and many analogues, is that the city’s interests don’t clearly align with those of the state: While the ‘working waterfront‘ provides thousands of jobs (once spin-off is accounted for) the city doesn’t seen any direct money from sales or income taxes there — all of that revenue goes to the state. If the Providence’s coffers saw a direct cut of the economic activity that takes place within the city’s borders, it’d have a much greater incentive to encourage the development of industry.

Anyway, here’s Dan’s take on it:

PROVIDENCE — The four-day symposium to debate the future of the Providence waterfront ended last night with one clear feeling voiced by most of the 200 participants: residences do not belong along the waterfront.

At the same time, there was some acknowledgement that a mixed-use zone is possible on the Allens Avenue waterfront, replacing the current industrial zoning. The question is how to accomplish that.

Mayor David N. Cicilline, who supports mixed-use zoning on the waterfront, convened the charette to assess whether the current zoning should be changed as the city rewrites its Comprehensive Plan, the backbone of its zoning and planning law.

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