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Frankie811

Federal Hill Charrette

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Glad to see they brought up signage, I love the Hill's unique and differing signs all down Atwells. I think for Atwells Ave I wouldn't really wanna see anything over 6 stories, except maybe the end towards the highway.

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I went to the meeting on Friday night, but wasn't able to make the actual charrette on Saturday (I had to work :( ), did anyone else go one Saturday?

Thom Deller was letting a lot of good info out on Friday. One of my favourite nuggets from Thom was the Hotel Napoli proposal in the white building near the arch (the building that has had a large "Available" banner on it ever since I moved to Providence). The drawing he showed would save the white building which is right up against the street and attach a new structure (in brick according to the rendering) to the back. I think this would be great for bringing life to Garibaldi Park, which is currently devoid of life seeing as it sits in front of a body shop and has no activity around it, save for a Dunkin Donuts).

It was good to hear that the city is in the process of exploring ideas for the Route 95 crossings at Atwells and Broadway (speaking of these two projects, there were surveyors in the area between the Service Road and the arch this morning :whistling: ). I'm not sure I like the idea of flanking pedestrian bridges (he described it as an arrangement like the College Street bridges over the river). Bridges over the highway will need suicide fencing and it's hard for me to imagine this not being some cagelike structure, they will have to be quite wide to not be cages. Also, building four new bridges seems to be getting pretty pricey, at that point, why not just go all the way and deck the highway between Atwells and Broadway? In Seattle they have the beautiful Freeway Park [link:link:link] over I-5 which was built as part of that city's convention center. Ours wouldn't have to be quite as elaborate as Seattle's (in fact if it were I think it might be it's own sort of division between east and west), but we could certainly have some landscaping, some basketball courts, park benchs, maybe a structured parking facility. It would be expensive, but it would behoove Proc. Group to kick in some funds, as their condo residents would benefit, funds from a parking structure could also go towards oaying for it.

William McKenzie Woodward's slideshow ignored the section of Atwells east of the highway, he said it's not really part of the Hill. He's right, but they need to connect, and I was glad to see that Deller's slideshow started on the east side of Atwells. Shows he's thinking that the Hill needs to reach down into the city.

Traffic was the big topic in the Q&A session. Of course as a walker/bus rider, I really can't shed too many tears for people on this subject, but I do realize it's important. There are things that can be done to address the problems of traffic. Far too much time is wasted on the streets by people circling the neighbourhood in a misguided attempt to find parking. If we had one (ideally two) structured parking facilities that people knew they could drive directly to to find cheap parking, then that would get rid of a lot of those wanderers. Ideally these lots would be off Atwells so that you could approach the neighbourhood via West Exchange or Dean and not have to bring your car onto Atwells at all. The timing of the lights could be fixed a bit. The Dean Street intersection is a nightmare. The intersection is bad for cars and bad for pedestrians, if the lights just worked that would be a big step (the hanging green light on Dean northbound has been out for over a week and traffic just sits there, until someone honks and gets people moving). The intersection is too wide, there are 4 or 5 car lengths that can fit in the intersection along Atwells, and people constantly block the box, it's also not at all apparent where the stop lines or crosswalks are. Of course a lot of the traffic problems are the fault of idiotic Rhode Island drivers. Until we get traffic enforcement out there ticketing people for blocking the box, running light, making turns from the wrong lane, being an idiot... we'll continue to have traffic problems.

Deller and the Mayor are both talking about mixed income housing. When the Mayor starts talking about Newbury Street, that's a little scary, because none of us that live on or along Atwells now could afford to live there if it became Newbury Street, I hope the city can keep to that mixed income goal.

On the height issue, height doesn't really scare me. I wouldn't like to see everything on Atwells torn down so that property owners could reap the benefits of 10 story zoning, but if a developer meets density wavers on green design or affordablity or other criteria, I would not oppose a ten-story building on it's height alone. I think 4-6 is a good max for most projects. Stepbacks can help mitigate the impact of taller structures, and I would like to see stepback rules written into any zoning that would authorize density wavers (I.E. you get a height waver to go to 8 floors because you've met an affordabilty goal, that extra height needs to stepback).

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Its hard for me to imagine what the deck would look like if it strected the span you recomend. However I always hated crossing the current bridge to walk to the civic center, or any thing. The caged in feeling of the fence, or maybe the busted up gaurd rails had a feeling to them that was less then desireable. If FH can really start to bridge the gap between down city and onyville i think it would be all the better. Im really intrested in seeing that chariot report, and any rendering that would come out it.

Mij

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Now I love the Hill as much as the next guy, but does any one else fear for the shocks on their car when driving down it?! This is one of Providence's best places to go, and it potentially has the word paved road in the city as well. Am I just an idiot? why would atwells ave not be placed at priority #1 to be repaved??

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Now I love the Hill as much as the next guy, but does any one else fear for the shocks on their car when driving down it?! This is one of Providence's best places to go, and it potentially has the word paved road in the city as well. Am I just an idiot? why would atwells ave not be placed at priority #1 to be repaved??

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Lombarti said it was scheduled to be repaved between Labour Day and Columbus Day (in time for the festival), this year. I think they're letting it go for the summer because repaving would be a big disruption to summer business.

We also learned that the city is trying to get a federal grant to have all the traffic lights in the city retimed. Hopefully they can get a grant to repair the broken lights and install missing walk signals as well.

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Now I love the Hill as much as the next guy, but does any one else fear for the shocks on their car when driving down it?! This is one of Providence's best places to go, and it potentially has the word paved road in the city as well. Am I just an idiot? why would atwells ave not be placed at priority #1 to be repaved??

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I drove down Atwells Ave yesterday morning and I couldn't believe the terrible condition of the street. I'll have to avoid it for a while.

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I think it is odd when people say things like "if Atwells became Newbury, then none of us could afford it".. What do you want? Do you want the city to improve, or just improve everywhere but your little niche.. I don't get that.. The realities of a great city are it is expensive.. I understand it is a catch 22, but you can't have it both ways.. With all these high priced condos going in on Fed Hill, rents are going to go up anyway.. You can't have low income housing next to top end units.. One of them has to break.. Mixed income is a selling point for developers to pander to the residents who will be displaced.. You will notice that ALL mixed income/affordable units have a timeframe on them..

The ancillary benefits of development are that everyone gets a better city.. Through tax rolls.. I don't get how people always complain at these design charrettes, etc..

Seems counter productive to me.. I understand not liking being displaced, but thats part of life.. For all people of all incomes..

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I think it is odd when people say things like "if Atwells became Newbury, then none of us could afford it".. What do you want? Do you want the city to improve, or just improve everywhere but your little niche.. I don't get that.. The realities of a great city are it is expensive.. I understand it is a catch 22, but you can't have it both ways.. With all these high priced condos going in on Fed Hill, rents are going to go up anyway.. You can't have low income housing next to top end units.. One of them has to break..  Mixed income is a selling point for developers to pander to the residents who will be displaced.. You will notice that ALL mixed income/affordable units have a timeframe on them..

The ancillary benefits of development are that everyone gets a better city.. Through tax rolls.. I don't get how people always complain at these design charrettes, etc..

Seems counter productive to me.. I understand not liking being displaced, but thats part of life.. For all people of all incomes..

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I think I understand what your saying/talking about. I also want the city to exceed/improve itself, but at what cost? Since the area has become popular my rent has gone up almost 75% since 1998 when the city started to become popular.

I don't even live in the city and I've seen lots of people from MA/CT/NY/NJ/PA move into the area which I believe has increased rents. If you ask the landlords they'll tell you it's because of increasing energy costs, but I don't believe it. From 1986 till 1998 my rent went from $ 425 - 500, with heat/hot water, balcony, parking included. Since 1999 - 2005 the rent went from $ 525 - 775+. PLEASE!!!!

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I think I understand what your saying/talking about. I also want the city to exceed/improve itself, but at what cost? Since the area has become popular my rent has gone up almost 75% since 1998 when the city started to become popular.

I don't even live in the city and I've seen lots of people from MA/CT/NY/NJ/PA move into the area which I believe has increased rents. If you ask the landlords they'll tell you it's because of increasing energy costs, but I don't believe it. From 1986 till 1998 my rent went from $ 425 - 500, with heat/hot water, balcony, parking included. Since 1999 - 2005 the rent went from $ 525 - 775+. PLEASE!!!!

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Energy cost excuses are bunk.. The real increasing costs are taxes.. And, since houses are trading like baseball cards now, most likely your new landlord has far higher costs than the last guy who owned it.. So prices go up, houses turn over, a new cost basis is started.. Rents are adjusted to meet costs.. Then, the city does a revaluation.. Taxes go up, rents go up to meet new costs.. When prices go up, insurance goes up to "meet the correct replacement value".. The utils have gone up a little, but not remotely close to taxes and prices.. The real increase in rents are due to increases in landlords' overhead.. And it comes form all angles..

I don't know what the solution is.. I hate rasing rents, believe me.. But when your monthly overhead rises ~$200, where is that going to come from??

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Atwells becoming Newbury isn't exactly the issue, it's Federal Hill becoming the Back Bay. I don't propose subsidized housing on Atwells, but we can't continue only building these "luxury" units that are cheifly drawing empty-nesters and Boston executives. Where's the market-rate housing that the much needed 25-35 year olds can afford? Where's the housing for families. Line Atwells with "Luxury" housing, hardly anyone actually lives on Atwells now (so no one is being displaced), but make sure there is housing that is market driven and not just granite counter-top driven in the area.

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Atwells becoming Newbury isn't exactly the issue, it's Federal Hill becoming the Back Bay. I don't propose subsidized housing on Atwells, but we can't continue only building these "luxury" units that are cheifly drawing empty-nesters and Boston executives. Where's the market-rate housing that the much needed 25-35 year olds can afford? Where's the housing for families. Line Atwells with "Luxury" housing, hardly anyone actually lives on Atwells now (so no one is being displaced), but make sure there is housing that is market driven and not just granite counter-top driven in the area.

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I absolutely agree with you! Partly it's our insane way of funding education up here, but every town and city in New England is pandering desperately to lure the childless, affluent residents when the fact remains that it's people with kids who really really care and have a stake in the liveability of the community. How many luxury condos and apartments can Providence support, particularly since we don't have the corresponding economy!

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How many luxury condos and apartments can Providence support, particularly since we don't have the corresponding economy!

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I keep telling myself that these developers have done their homework and know what the market can support, they're not looking to lose their shirts here, but what can we support? The Sasaki people seemed to think not much more than what is currently proposed.

And it's not like we can rely totally on Boston, they're not exactly in great shape themselves right now, job creation has dropped off in Massachusetts, they are losing high tech jobs to places like North Carolina, and more so to India.

There was an article in ProJo recently about business leaders meeting and discussing education. They said they have no problem filling high level specialized jobs, we have plenty of qualified people from URI, and Brown, and UMass Dartmouth looking for work here, it's the mid and entry level jobs they can't fill. They can't find support staff that can read and write properly.

We're satisfying the housing needs for those highly qualified well paid people, then we have a vast social net for people in poverty, but we have a gap in the middle class market. Those people who can read and write properly are reading about the housing costs outside the region and are packing up and heading out.

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Lots of good stuff... Some thoughts...

1) Name any world-class Amercian city where the most desirable areas in the city aren't an extremely expensive place to live. We've had this discussion several times, and I stick to my position: Providence is not, and likely never will be, a "luxury" city. Ever. It'll never be Manhattan, or Back Bay, or SF, or Miracle Mile. May a middle class family be able to live on Memorial Drive or in OTW? Probably not. If so, I'd probably be a little worried. Will a middle class family be able to afford the West End, much of the East Side, etc? Very likely.

Maybe it was TheAnk or MikePl who said several weeks to months ago, in response to the question of "when will market rate, mixed housing come," that it'll happen when the luxury market saturates, demand exists (helped by the success of the luxury stuff) and you have people still holding onto property that they want to develop and make money off of. We're probably 3-5 years away perhaps from that.

We'll see... For now, let's just improve this city, or nothing will happen, and we'll be Fall River...

- Garris

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and we'll be Fall River...

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Actually, property values are skyrocketing in Fall River too. :blink:

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Actually, property values are skyrocketing in Fall River too.  :blink:

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Yeah! And wait untill they finally build the Boston-Fall River-New Bedford rail line.

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Yeah! And wait untill they finally build the Boston-Fall River-New Bedford rail line.

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I surely do not see any attraction to Fall River and New Bedford with or without a rail...no character, no culture, no draw.

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Actually, property values are skyrocketing in Fall River too.  :blink:

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Either way, I still wouldn't want to live there. Before we worry about the sky falling with Providence prices, lets make it a destination city...

- Garris

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I have to say that I worry about all the Atwells Ave. development buzz. Seems to me that the low scale funky charm of the street (not unlike Wickenden St.) is at stake. A couple of condo projects will not ruin the street but if it starts to go really upscale it won't be the Atwells Ave that we all know and love.

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Both cities have some great architecture as well as waterfront locations. I don't know how you define "character" but it seems to me that New Bedford in particular has plenty.

I surely do not see any attraction to Fall River and New Bedford with or without a rail...no character, no culture, no draw.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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Both cities have some great architecture as well as waterfront locations. I don't know how you define "character" but it seems to me that New Bedford in particular has plenty.

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I agree. No sense in bashing cities tht dont deserve it. New Bedford (or New Beige) has a wonderful armory and a fine selection of turn of the century mill architecture. One particularly large complex will soon be 250 apartments with a small museum. The Revere Copper mill is still in limited production. And the Ropeworks at 123 Sawyer street will be real live/work spaces that artists can apply for and own. I visited with them on Sunday and they showed me around. I'll be posting their project soon.

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I have to say that I worry about all the Atwells Ave. development buzz. Seems to me that the low scale funky charm of the street (not unlike Wickenden St.) is at stake. A couple of condo projects will not ruin the street but if it starts to go really upscale it won't be the Atwells Ave that we all know and love.

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I completely disagree. Those projects are at the back end of the restaurant strip and are "down" the hill. I don't think the funkiness of Atwell's is at stake at all.

- Garris

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Atwells Ave has long been one of the most unique and entertaining/vibrant streets in the city, and I think the city and state know this and wouldn't mess with that at all, they'd have to be pretty blind and stupid to do so.

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I completely disagree.  Those projects are at the back end of the restaurant strip and are "down" the hill.  I don't think the funkiness of Atwell's is at stake at all.

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The two in the pipeline now are at the 'back' of the hill, but there are other proposals for the rest of Atwells.

The owner of the block that Zooma is on is itching to tear those buildings down, he doesn't own the building the Chinese restaurant is in, if he did, we'd see wrecking balls on the Avenue right now.

The street is going to change, but their is a sweet irony to that. I often laugh at the yuppies in the North End of Boston who are lamenting the changes happening in that neighbourhood. These people have no idea what the real North End was before they drove the locals out (and before it was a neighbourhood of Italian immigrants, it was something completely different). The same thing has already happened on Atwells, people are lamenting the possible demise of a charm that itself drove out a previous vitality (look at photos of Atwells from early last century, the neighbourhood that was there was spectacular). The neighbourhood will change, hopefully what it becomes will be as good as what it is now, and what it was before.

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