Fane Tower Project Still Looms

Guess what did survive the pandemic. And just in time. With federal unemployment subsidies ending and eviction protections gone — let’s shovel money into the pockets of an out-of-town developer for a luxury apartment tower. (A Fane spokesperson calls them “market-rate apartments,” whatever that means. Clearly they are pivoting from the word “luxury.”)

It has been five years since this Parcel 42 eyesore, Hope Point Tower, was first broached. Sunday’s ProJo had an update on the project — “Developer: Fane Tower ‘Alive and Well'” — that includes a discussion of the deadlines missed by Fane so far.

From late 2018 through most of 2020, outward progress on the tower was minimal, with Fane missing deadlines, drawing the frustration of the 195 Commission and raising questions as to whether the tower was a pipe dream.

Fane continued with his delays and footdragging. In a nutshell:

November 2020: Fane finally coughs up long overdue $250,000 deposit after pleas from our compliant I-195 Commission.

June 30, 2021: Fane misses purchase-and-sale deadline. Commission extends deadline to end of August.

August 31, 2021: Fane misses deadline. Commission extends deadline to September 15.

The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) reported last December that the appeal in the Superior Court had failed, but an appeal to the state Supreme Court was expected.

So here we are. How on earth is the Providence housing market going to support this? Other failed apartment buildings have already been converted into university housing — The Cove on Canal Street (Johnson & Wales) and River House on Point Street (Brown) — but I don’t see that happening with this monstrosity.

And the PPS reminds us that the Providence National Bank Facade downtown on Weybosset Street serves as a constant reminder of what happens when we allow developers to proceed with ambitious projects without factoring in economic projections and understanding the local market: “In October, 2007, the new project officially stalled due to a softening real estate market.”

What this city needs is more housing for its low- and middle-income citizens. Providence was already experiencing a housing crisis before the pandemic, the above-mentioned recent developments will provide a stress test to an already tight rental market. Don’t be surprised if a burgeoning homeless population converts Parcel 42 into our very own Skid Row/Hoovertown before the first Fane shovel goes in . . . Hopeless Point.

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We last wrote about this in September of 2019. It had been hoped that somehow the pandemic and ensuing economic chaos would have ended this plan one way or another.

3 thoughts on “Fane Tower Project Still Looms”

  1. The author needs to grow up and be (slightly) less cynical and forego the whine fest. This project will infuse much needed density in an area that is virtually a ghost town. It will be nice to finally see the groundbreaking ceremony in 2022..

  2. Will Jackson

    Nicely done article. What do we call the supporters of this tower boondoggle? “Pro-Fane”

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