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TheAnk

Downcity as a Resident Hood

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Personally, I am opposed to residential development in Downcity.. I think there is room for that style of downlown living in the Jewelry District, where down city should house white collar jobs in any number of industries.. Those high paying job make the city go..

For the long term viability of the city, and for it not to be simply an urban suburb of Boston, I think we need to keep the downcity core non-residential..

Thoughts?

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Thoughts?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, I think there's no turning back at this point. But I agree with you, I'd like to see this residential boom Downcity peter out. There's plenty of places to build housing outside Downcity, even right on it's fringes. The problem is, how do we trigger those white collar jobs? There's no question we need them, but how do we get them to come here?

I'm also not too concered (yet) about not having room for those offices when they finally decide they want to be here. There's still plenty of space left. Various open parcels, the Capital Center area behind Citizens, Phase II of Waterplace, all that 195 land...

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I wonder how easy it would be to convert residential to office space? Just in case jobs actually do start flocking to Prov.. At that Prov 2020 meeting, they were saying that vacancy rate is pretty small..

Does it make me odd that I go to sleep at night hoping and begging for a big new corporate financial institution to make Downcity their home?

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Does it make me odd that I go to sleep at night hoping and begging for a big new corporate financial institution to make Downcity their home?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, a little. :lol:

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Does it make me odd that I go to sleep at night hoping and begging for a big new corporate financial institution to make Downcity their home?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I just dream that the company I work for ( www.apc.com ) would decide to do a Gtech and move from South County to a shiny new office building downcity. We have been pushing hard into the large scale datacenter market and I cant think of anything better than a nice new Corporate headquarters to bring clients to and show them our gear. Of course our CEO is an Engineer, so I doubt such things appeal to him.

Liam

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I can't say I agree with you ( TheAnk ) because without people living downtown you wont have the high paying jobs anywhere near providence. The people downtown are what make the city safe, friendly and livable.

In truth I don

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I think in a city the size of Providence, it is probably not prudent to set aside an area in it's center as an exclusively business district. For years Downtown Boston was deserted after 6pm, but Boston has the South End, North End, Back Bay, JP, Allston-Brighton, Cambridge... as active areas that don't depend on Downtown. In fact the residents of Boston for the most part were probably barely aware of how deserted Downtown was after dark. It's only in the last year really that residential development has taken off in Downtown Boston and you are beginning to see a 24-hour presense there.

In Providence, with the city being so small and Downcity being it's hub, it's imprudent to allow the area to close shop after dark. You need the round-the-clock life that only comes with residential development. Otherwise, Providence would have a dark scary void at it's heart at night, and that void would serve to sever the city from the rest of itself.

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I think in a city the size of Providence, it is probably not prudent to set aside an area in it's center as an exclusively business district. For years Downtown Boston was deserted after 6pm, but Boston has the South End, North End, Back Bay, JP, Allston-Brighton, Cambridge... as active areas that don't depend on Downtown. In fact the residents of Boston for the most part were probably barely aware of how deserted Downtown was after dark. It's only in the last year really that residential development has taken off in Downtown Boston and you are beginning to see a 24-hour presense there.

In Providence, with the city being so small and Downcity being it's hub, it's imprudent to allow the area to close shop after dark. You need the round-the-clock life that only comes with residential development. Otherwise, Providence would have a dark scary void at it's heart at night, and that void would serve to sever the city from the rest of itself.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I would agree with Cotuit in large measure. Almost all cities of 150,000-300,000 have little activity in the downtown area after 6PM unless they have a large mix of residential or continuous entertainment (very rare).

There is plenty of commerical/corporate opportunities in Downcity, the Jewelry District, and in the space that will open up with Rt 195...making it a bigger city.

The real issue is who wants to do it. They are several Providence metro corporations that can do it - BUT WILL THEY? As to any new large business moving their HQ to Providence, that would require an economic reason to leave Boston and a good transportation system between the two metros. Right now, Providence has no economic competitive edge over Boston...just a much more "livable" big city.

Again, the state and city have to create the opportunity for developers.

By the way, Providence is not, nor will it ever be, an urban suburb of Boston - that defies all socio/economic/geographic/political realities. It is Boston's only NE competitor; even with the size difference.

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I am for the residential development of downtown particularly along Westminster west of Dorrance.

Other than a few bright spots such as Trinity and PPAC, the old retail core of the city west of Dorrance St. had been almost totally vacant for years because it couldn't compete with the suburban malls.

People always talked about reviving the area. They even built a pedestrial mall. Nothing worked. Very few businesses wanted to be there.

The only successful use (aside from the colleges using the bldgs) has been the conversion of these buildings to residential use. Hopefully that will create demand for street level retail.

There's still plenty of office space in the adjacent Financial District, Capital Center, the Foundry, and parts of the Jewelry District. The 195 land and large portions of the Promenade District could create a lot more land/buildings for commercial use.

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Personally, I am opposed to residential development in Downcity.. I think there is room for that style of downlown living in the Jewelry District, where down city should house white collar jobs in any number of industries.. Those high paying job make the city go..

For the long term viability of the city, and for it not to be simply an urban suburb of Boston, I think we need to keep the downcity core non-residential..

Thoughts?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

After spending most of my life watching retail in Downcity wither and die, and practically seeing the sidewalks roll up at 4:30 when workers head back to the 'burbs, the last thing I'm gonna do is p1ss and moan that the area is becomming residential.

It has been non-residential.. AKA a ghost town for as long as most people can remember. I welcome the new vitality this will bring, and who know's what the resulting economic engine will produce.

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This is not a Providence vs. Hartford thread, if you must have a Providence vs. Hartford discussion, it should be done in the correct thread.

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This is not a Providence vs. Hartford thread, if you must have a Providence vs. Hartford discussion, it should be done in the correct thread.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Don't worry I have just revived that thread with a new post. :P

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After spending most of my life watching retail in Downcity wither and die, and practically seeing the sidewalks roll up at 4:30 when workers head back to the 'burbs, the last thing I'm gonna do is p1ss and moan that the area is becomming residential. 

It has been non-residential.. AKA a ghost town for as long as most people can remember.  I welcome the new vitality this will bring, and who know's what the resulting economic engine will produce.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Absolutely, I completely agree... Every vibrant metro in the nation right now has a strong residential component. While more business downtown can never hurt, I think the potential for that business and for retail, entertainment, etc is onlyprovided in a city center by people living nearby. And Prov has more than enough space for business expansion even with all the residential activity.

In our suburban dominated culture, there are fewer and fewer reasons to go into a city center anymore, even for work... Even in our own area, any place downtown would kill for the turnout the Chelo's in East Greenwich gets on a Friday night.

No, the best hope for any urban center in today's world is either for its to be a populace's neighborhood (where they live), or to have big time, unique attractions (like high profile sports or arts). The best urban centers have both.

- Garris

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In fact the residents of Boston for the most part were probably barely aware of how deserted Downtown was after dark. It's only in the last year really that residential development has taken off in Downtown Boston and you are beginning to see a 24-hour presense there.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The Boston I grew up in was never deserted after dark.. The only section of downtown that was deserted was the financial district; every other section has always been vibrant..

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I just feel that by putting residential downtown you snuff out the opportunity for greater future commercial growth...

The Downtown you guys are used to (barren wasteland) is something that was before my time here, so I don't know what that was like.. But the city is booming right now, we can all agree on that.. So there isn't this preesing need to make downcity a resident area.. It is functioning well as a work and destination area..

Prov is experiencing a one time delayed revival that I attribute to Cianci's idiocy.. This should have happened 25 years ago when the rest of urban renewal happened, but it didn't because the mayor was too busy putting cigarettes out in people's eyes. .. Its happening now though..

I just don't think the city needs downtown residents for vibrancy.. Just a personal opinion.. There are many attractions to downtown.. The place is hopping every night, mostly by the restaurant/bar crowd, but also by some theatre goers and sight seers..

The stigma is gone.. Putting residents downtown limits the scope of growth, real growth of employment. Not just residencies..

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I just feel that by putting residential downtown you snuff out the opportunity for greater future commercial growth...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

There are plenty, perhaps too many undeveloped lots downcity that could be used for commercial use. So that wouldn't be a problem. I can recall reading an article a few years ago in which a businessman from NY expressed his surprise to see so many open lots downtown. There is still Parcel 4 in capital center, almost the entire west side of Snow St, Matthewson & Fountain/Washington St and of course the jewerly district. This morning I was looking at all the empty lots across from Capriccio's in the financial district and thought that this would be an excellent location for an office building. Many empty lots around the court house on Dorrance also. Not to mention the land that will open with the relocation of Rt 195. Yes, let's have more residential.

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There are plenty, perhaps too many undeveloped lots downcity that could be used for commercial use. So that wouldn't be a problem. I can recall reading an article a few years ago in which a businessman from NY expressed his surprise to see so many open lots downtown. There is still Parcel 4 in capital center, almost the entire west side of Snow St, Matthewson & Fountain/Washington St and of course the jewerly district. This morning I was looking at all the empty lots across from Capriccio's in the financial district and thought that this would be an excellent location for an office building. Many empty lots around the court house on Dorrance also. Not to mention the land that will open with the relocation of Rt 195. Yes, let's have more residential.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I whole-heartedly agree Frankie...I was just thinking this as I was coming back from downcity right now. Despite all of the residential development going on now, it will have little if any impact on the ability to build more commercial space. Anyway, even if all the open parcels are developed, it just gives more incentive to build taller and denser in an area where it is desired and appropriate, and I know everyone around here (UP that is) would be happy about that!

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I whole-heartedly agree Frankie...I was just thinking this as I was coming back from downcity right now. Despite all of the residential development going on now, it will have little if any impact on the ability to build more commercial space. Anyway, even if all the open parcels are developed, it just gives more incentive to build taller and denser in an area where it is desired and appropriate, and I know everyone around here (UP that is) would be happy about that!

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

People living downtown won't draw away from the neighborhoods?

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People living downtown won't draw away from the neighborhoods?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't think so, particularly for the market 95% of the housing units are being geared to. The ONLY neighborhood that I think MIGHT be impacted is the East Side/Wayland Sq/College Hill.

Its really the only place competing for these rents/condo prices...

Plus there is so much pent-up demand I don't think it will have much effect on the neighborhoods.

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I don't think so, particularly for the market 95% of the housing units are being geared to. The ONLY neighborhood that I think MIGHT be impacted is the East Side/Wayland Sq/College Hill.

Its really the only place competing for these rents/condo prices...

Plus there is so much pent-up demand I don't think it will have much effect on the neighborhoods.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Agreed (I agreed with you on something!! :w00t:). I think there is certainly some buyer overlap between downtown and Benefit Street, College Hill, Wayland Sq, and Hope Village. Those areas on the East Side are the only places where condos are currently going for what they be asking for downtown.

I can also think of many people (myself included) who would have lived downtown in a heartbeat if the housing stock was there when I was looking, but instead settled for the East Side urban neighborhoods instead as a surrogate. I think the East Side ownership is sufficiently diverse demographically and the demand high enough that those areas won't be impacted by the downtown development (many realtors I've talked to agree with this also).

As for downtown development residentially limiting commercial development? No way... I agree with Frankie. There are a million empty lots available to be built on downtown and we still have some empty construction at that (Amex et al). There is also, as Sasaki has demonstrated in Prov 2020, not full utilization of what we already have.

As for residential development hindering economic growth in a downtown? The folks in NYC, Chicago, Vancouver, Minneapolis, SF, etc. etc. might strongly disagree...

- Garris

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I think the Downcity residential boom could actually help the outer neighbourhoods. Westminster Lofts are advertising in the Boston Press (especially in the gay press, good target demographic for them). And I'm sure we'll see OneTen, Waterplace, and the Westin doing the same (and I suspect there'll be ads in the New York press too). People will come to look at the Downcity stuff, perhaps blanch a bit at the prices, but discover the East Side, Federal Hill, Armory... in the process. The Downcity development is drawing attention to the city in a way that has never happened before. It's opening the eyes of a whole new group of possible residents.

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The Downcity development is drawing attention to the city in a way that has never happened before. It's opening the eyes of a whole new group of possible residents.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

And before anyone else jumps on this, that isn't a bad thing. I can already imagine the flurry of posts now about how that means outsiders coming in and displacing all of the wonderful, dynamic, character-filled people who make Providence Providence and give the city its sense of place...

No, this just means adding to the tapestry. In urban life, static=death. There's enough Providence to go around for everyone...

- Garris

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There's enough Providence to go around for everyone...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

And if there isn't, we'll just start eating the newcomer's babies, like they do in Hartford. ;)

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I think the Downcity residential boom could actually help the outer neighbourhoods. Westminster Lofts are advertising in the Boston Press (especially in the gay press, good target demographic for them). And I'm sure we'll see OneTen, Waterplace, and the Westin doing the same (and I suspect there'll be ads in the New York press too). People will come to look at the Downcity stuff, perhaps blanch a bit at the prices, but discover the East Side, Federal Hill, Armory... in the process. The Downcity development is drawing attention to the city in a way that has never happened before. It's opening the eyes of a whole new group of possible residents.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Question for Cotuit, Garris and others. You are men who have lived in many other areas of this country and I'm wondering if you've ever seen the level of development, culture, arts, culinary scence, entertainment and excitement as you've seen in a city the size of Providence?

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Question for Cotuit, Garris and others. You are men who have lived in many other areas of this country and I'm wondering if you've ever seen the level of development, culture, arts, culinary scence, entertainment and excitement as you've seen in a city the size of Providence?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

In the nation? Short answer... Absolutely. In the Northeast? With the exception of what's going on in areas of NYC right now (especially Brooklyn and the Bronx), definitely not...

That's why I have to giggle a bit when I hear people talk about the (cue horror movie music) irresponsible, dangerous white hot Providence growth. Now, too much growth, like in Arizona and areas of rural Minnesota, just gives you ugly sprawl and has no public oversight, which is bad. However, I think Providence's growth, compared to other areas I've lived, is quite mature and reasoned...

Now, the long answer:

Minneapolis/St. Paul: This is the closest analogue to Providence, especially St. Paul, which is roughly similar in feel and population size. However, both are much more active than in Providence. Both are also having downtown rebirths very similar to Providence, converting old industrial areas to cool pedestrian residential communities (Minneapolis' linked by a new LRT) with tremendous levels of community input and oversight. Both are absolutely booming in the culinary scene (which might be one of the most exciting and diverse in the nation right now) and in the arts department (tons of new activity, and the Cities have the most theater seats per person of any city in the nation). I think the Minneapolis metro is poised to grow by nearly a million people by 2020 (that's what planners are assuming, possibly underestimating), which is amazing, much of it along its new LRT and commuter rail lines. Minneapolis' skyline changes by the year... Even looking at a recent photo, I was amazed to spot buildings and construction that weren't there last year. Here's a great, Cotuit-style (but not nearly as organized or realized) rundown of Twin Cities projects on Urban Planet here: Minneapolis development. Wouldn't you love to see some of those developments in Providence?

Rochester, MN: Enormous economic and population growth in the years I was there, as the metro may have grown from 80,000-100,000 in about the 4-5 years I was there!! I was living at the very edge of town when I moved there in 2000... Looking down my road, I could see farms... When I left in 2004, there were only endless developments down the same road clear to the horizon... 2-3 exits on the neighboring parkway were added for new residential and retail developement, a Super-Target, a Mega-Walmart and Sam's Club, 3 movie theaters, tons of retail, 2 new schools, a brand new art museum, a gaggle of churches, 2 of 3 of the tallest buildings in the city, a new Mayo Clinic suburban expansion clinic, two new hotels, and tons of bland suburban housing sprawl were added in my 4 years there alone. Now that's white hot growth... However, there's almost no culinary or arts excitement here at all, and little public oversight of much other than a strong NIMBY core in the downtown, of all places... Check out some Rochester photos of mine here http://members.cox.net/garrisphotography/G....html#Rochester.

Scottsdale, AZ: The posterchild for sprawl. There are roads and highways there that end in the middle of nowhere, primed for new development any second. EVERYTHING there is new, built in the last 5-10 years or so... I mean, I've never lived anywhere else before where nearly the entire city didn't even exist when Clinton was elected President... It's amazing, and feels like you moved into an alternative universe where everything was built yesterday. However, again, sprawl city... Mall, after strip plaza, after mall, after big box, after condo, after McMansion, after cookie cutter house, after... You get the idea.... Very little culinary or arts excitement in these new areas, though... That's still centered in (suffering) downtown Phoenix.

In the Northeast, I think Providence's is the most vibrant transformation I've yet seen since maybe Hoboken and Jersey City in the mid-80's to mid-90's. I mean, a gaggle of towers, creating a new residential community downtown, the Waterplace, the 195 movement, university expansions everywhere by the time things are done, an already booming culinary and arts scene... Providence is going great.

Other cities are also improving, although not maybe transforming as completely as Providence:

White Plain, NY: Probably the closest to Prov's transformation in my mind... Always a city with tons of business and safe and clean, WP always lacked a skyline and an urban vibe. Not anymore! Still an ongoing transformation, a flock of young commuters priced out of NYC and lots of development money are transforming this city of about 80,000...

New Haven, CT: A vastly improving downtown, as has been much discussed here... Still has some economic, residential, and crime issues to deal with.

Stamford, CT: I still don't like it as a city, but it is also undoubtedly having some downtown residential development and a nascent social scene is developing, aided by the same "priced out" trends helping White Plains.

Manchester, NH: Well documented here on UP, they have downtown development happening too, but my impression is that it isn't quite as transformative as Prov's (I'm awaiting the M Brown post right now...)

Hartford, CT: May have finally hit rock bottom, and has some activity now downtown in residential and condo construction... I'll just leave it there for the moment ;).

Phily, PA: While improved tremendously in the last 20 years and always a work in progress, they've got some new downtown construction ongoing and planned (finally!). Always haunted by some deep, extensive areas of poverty...

- Garris

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