New Hotel Plan Heads To City Council

A plan to replace these three buildings on Angell Street at Brook with a five-story, 118-room hotel is now headed to the Providence City Council for approval of a zoning change from residential-professional to commercial. Local realtor Ed Bishop is partnering with an out-of-state developer that builds hotels in college towns on the project. Following a failed first petition, they recently returned to the City Plan Commission (CPC) which this time approved their requests for dimensional adjustments to height and parking, and a design waiver — all contingent on the property being rezoned to C-2. From Providence Business News:

Many neighborhood residents, as well as two City Council members — Helen Anthony and John Goncalves — spoke against the project on Tuesday. They cited the size and scale of the building, its need for several allowances for more height or parking reductions, and what they said was the slow creep of the Brown University campus into residential neighborhoods of College Hill.

Update from District 2 Councilwoman Helen Anthony:

“There will be a Public Hearing before the Ordinance Committee on Monday, July 27th at 5:00 p.m.  This will be the last opportunity for the public to speak regarding the proposed hotel so I encourage everyone to attend and testify.  The Ordinance Committee will then vote in regular session to recommend approval or not.  Then the matter will be voted on at City Council.”

This piece, written in June by Nina Tannenwald for the ProJo prior to the CPC meeting, articulates many of the neighbors’ concerns:

Now the developers are back with more or less the same oversize proposal and an appeal to the City Council. The proposal is jaw-dropping in the number of exceptions it is requesting — not only a change of the master plan’s zoning category, a big ask — but also waivers of limits on height and number of stories, a design waiver for the front-yard setback from Angell Street and a waiver of the required parking spaces from 118 to 40. In other words, this hotel can only be built if the city sweeps aside almost every rule thoughtfully put in place to preserve the scale and livability of urban environments.

(Tannenwald sits on the board of the Wayland Square Neighborhood Association.)

What is the Comprehensive Plan? Ten neighborhoods, including College Hill/Wayland/Fox Point, were analyzed and reimagined by creative types, urban planners, and residents to create the Providence Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan (approved by the CPC in 2009) so that an integrated approach to development would prevent the piecemeal architectural free-for-all that blights so many northeastern cities. It recognized that blocks of older houses, which might not be historically significant individually, collectively were a benefit to the architectural fabric of the city’s streetscapes.

On May 31, 2006, Mayor David N. Cicilline and the City Council announced Providence Tomorrow–an innovative and inclusive planning process designed to create a framework for the growth and preservation of Providence neighborhoods. Since then the City Council adopted a new Comprehensive Plan, and the Department of Planning and Development has undertaken detailed planning studies in each of the City’s neighborhoods. In May 2008, the fifth neighborhood “charrette,” or detailed planning process, was held in the College Hill, Fox Point and Wayland neighborhoods. This report is a summary of the information that was collected from residents, business owners and other stakeholders over the course of an intensive week of many public meetings.

This was a huge effort, with input and hours of hard work from people with a vision for Providence that would allow for modern development while preserving the historic (and not so historic) architecture that makes this city so agreeable. Hewing to these guidelines would benefit all stakeholders.


Seen here from left to right: 217, 211, and 209 Angell Street.

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