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PROPOSED: Redesigned LaSalle Square

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This thread is to discuss the redesign of LaSalle Square which is proposed by the city. The redesign is proposed to enhance traffic and pedestrian flow, beautify the area, and make the square's park more accessible and attractive.

Empire Street will be made two-way, and Broadway will be narrowed, though I imagine it will still be four lanes in a smaller footprint. And of course, a 22-story building will rise on the Public Safety site.

Here's some photos to go with the discussion.

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Call me the oddball here. I'd like them to completely raze the old BCBS building and the Fogarty and construct a longer building spanning the entire block , about 7 stories, with ground floor big-box retail on the bottom and office space up above. The "park" at the current BCBS building is practically unused, but a better situated "square " in the middle of the elongated building could be a focal point for conventioneers and a outdoor reprieve for the Cosmopolitan and future Dreyfuss Hotel residents. This new building could be brought closer to Empire and contribute to a more urban feel coupled with the Empire @ Broadway. We could court Stop & Shop or another generic supermarket chain. It would cater to all the college kids, residents, Regency Plaza people, and pull in some from Federal Hill...I imagine. Please no Whole Foods! Couple that with a Marshalls, Target, and or BestBuy. It would enhance the shopping experience downtown and draw more kids and families. None of these stores have locations in the city and they all have universal appeal ...esp. for people that don't or can't afford a car. The only other locations that are accessible by public transportation are in Warwick. At this particular location, I think it can work rather than within the confines of the 3 w's.

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The first think I thought of when you said "big box downtown" was Best Buy. I'd actually like to see a store that's more of a mix between Newbury Comics and Best Buy downtown. Some sort of eclectic media electronic media store... A Target would be great for everyone but Bed Bath and Beyond. A lot of students go there when they move in and forgot things since it's right there. Count me as a fan of a Target or Best Buy moving downcity.

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Call me the oddball here.

Sing me up for the oddball list. I'm all about all those proposals.

The one thing that gives me pause is raising the LaSalle Square BCBS building. While it is certainly ugly, as far as I know, it is a perfectly functional building, it's not a sick building, the roof doesn't leak, the HVAC works, the spaces inside are suited to modern usage... The environmentalist in me doesn't like the waste of tearing down a perfectly useful, albeit ugly building. If there were a cheap way to pretty it up a bit, I'd be happy. I imagine though, the ground floor is ill suited to retail, big box or no.

2006-0627-lasalle006.jpg

Maybe the whole front could be torn off back to the recessed portion, then refaced. That still leaves ugly sides, but the square fronting face is the most offensive and really hurts the square. Seeing its youth and usefullness though, I rather doubt we'll see any changes to it, even simple asthetic changes.

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The first think I thought of when you said "big box downtown" was Best Buy. I'd actually like to see a store that's more of a mix between Newbury Comics and Best Buy downtown. Some sort of eclectic media electronic media store... A Target would be great for everyone but Bed Bath and Beyond. A lot of students go there when they move in and forgot things since it's right there. Count me as a fan of a Target or Best Buy moving downcity.

We already have Bed,Bath, and Beyond in the mall. The quirky funky stores should be left for the 3 W's.

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Sing me up for the oddball list. I'm all about all those proposals.

The one thing that gives me pause is raising the LaSalle Square BCBS building. While it is certainly ugly, as far as I know, it is a perfectly functional building, it's not a sick building, the roof doesn't leak, the HVAC works, the spaces inside are suited to modern usage... The environmentalist in me doesn't like the waste of tearing down a perfectly useful, albeit ugly building. If there were a cheap way to pretty it up a bit, I'd be happy. I imagine though, the ground floor is ill suited to retail, big box or no.

2006-0627-lasalle006.jpg

Maybe the whole front could be torn off back to the recessed portion, then refaced. That still leaves ugly sides, but the square fronting face is the most offensive and really hurts the square. Seeing its youth and usefullness though, I rather doubt we'll see any changes to it, even simple asthetic changes.

It's painfully ugly and way out of place now with the Empire getting built. Couple that with its ugly cousin ( Fogarty) next door and you have half POWER block and half ugly block. Neither one have really any function for storefront retail. I would really like to see how TPG is going to pull off the Fogarty conversion. That's why I hope in their aggressive hunting for tenants that they find out that there is enough demand to maybe buy the old BCBS building and start fresh. I don't expect them to, but you never know.

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2006-0627-lasalle003.jpg

This photo astonished me, as much as I took it for capturing that corner of the square, the shocking thing is that there are actually people sitting there. This area gets bashed for being poorly used, and that is valid, but it is not entirely devoid of life. I do often in my travels see people there, even if its just BCBS employees eating a brown bag lunch.

You can see in some of the other photos people here and there about the square, some of them are the same people in different images, but there are also people I avoided photographing that you don't see. The only true destination in the square right now is Trinity Brewhouse (which for some reason had it's deck closed, I assume a private function closed them down for the night), but people travel through the area from Federal Hill/West Side to Downcity. So there is a small amount of foot traffic to be captured, bringing retail will draw more foot traffic and putting the roadways on diets will make it a more attractive pedestrian zone, drawing in more people who don't normally walk through the area.

Also notable in this image, is that most of the best signage in the city belongs to our parking lots and garages.

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We already have Bed,Bath, and Beyond in the mall. The quirky funky stores should be left for the 3 W's.

Yeah, BBB is in the mall. Target would certainly take away from their business from students (and I'm sure other demographics) that buy most of their "essentials" at home and then move in and realize what they forgot to get. How many large retail spaces are there on the three Ws that would support the Newbury Comics mixed with Best Buy type store I mentioned.

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Forgive me, but is the 22 story building on this site the new Hilton Tower? And is that what the "Rumor" is about? Sorry to ask what my be obvious questions but I'm a newcomer :)

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Forgive me, but is the 22 story building on this site the new Hilton Tower? And is that what the "Rumor" is about? Sorry to ask what my be obvious questions but I'm a newcomer :)

It is "The Rumor" but it's not the Hilton, it's The Old Public Safety Complex.

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Exactly who owns the BCBS building? Does BCBS own it? Perhaps the city would be willing to turn over or sell at low cost that "park" and convince the BCBS building owner to enclose it in a glass winter-garden type of arrangement and fill it with some steet level retail.

- Garris

PS: What exactly from an urban planning standpoint is a "square?" Look at Wayland Sq, Richmond Sq, LaSalle Sq, and all of the Boston squares (Harvard, Central, Kendal, Union, Inman, Davis, Porter, etc) and I can't find any similarities between them at all. It would be nice to know what parameters we need for a "square" in order to design one...

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PS: What exactly from an urban planning standpoint is a "square?" Look at Wayland Sq, Richmond Sq, LaSalle Sq, and all of the Boston squares (Harvard, Central, Kendal, Union, Inman, Davis, Porter, etc) and I can't find any similarities between them at all. It would be nice to know what parameters we need for a "square" in order to design one...

Websters:

an open place or area formed at the meeting of two or more streets

Basically an intersection important or prominent enough to receive a name I guess.

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how about...

hard rock cafe "power block" haha

or

PF Changs, Ruth's Chris's, etc at La Salle Square

a Staples Express would be good near a new office tower

and you will also see stuff like dry cleaners, barber shops, hair salons, men's suit stores, dress shoe stores like aldo, and maybe a couple radio shack/sony store types move in

capitive audience an office tower is

a target downtown would be great, but i would put it far away from the mall as possible, like towards the jewelry district or westminster/washington street to be more of a neighborhood asset as well for jwu and those living downtown. how about the bottom floor 2 floors of a 7 story parking garage behind the garrahy courthouse???

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a Staples Express would be good near a new office tower

I hadn't even thought of that, an office supply store in an office district, kind of a no-brainer, no? Especially Downtown where you often park and have to leave your car for the day, if you take it out you may have to pay to park it again, driving to North Main or Eagle Square isn't always practical. Most offices have a service they use for delivery of office supplies, but there's always something you need right now not next day.

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Yeah, BBB is in the mall. Target would certainly take away from their business from students (and I'm sure other demographics) that buy most of their "essentials" at home and then move in and realize what they forgot to get. How many large retail spaces are there on the three Ws that would support the Newbury Comics mixed with Best Buy type store I mentioned.

Target could be a likely candidate now that Wal-mart is coming soon. They seem to follow suit. I disagree that they would compete. Target is more affordable, caters to a wider demographic, and is a general merchandise store. Bed, Bath, & Beyond is more a specialty store and they have a much wider selection of items of better quality. It wouldn't have to be a Target per se, but a general merchandise store (not Wal-Mart) like Downtown had when Woolworth's was there....maybe a Costco...

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i do not believe this city has the stones to make a big box retailer toe the design line in downtown providence.

I would love to be proven wrong, but i don't think it will happen.

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I hadn't even thought of that, an office supply store in an office district, kind of a no-brainer, no? Especially Downtown where you often park and have to leave your car for the day, if you take it out you may have to pay to park it again, driving to North Main or Eagle Square isn't always practical. Most offices have a service they use for delivery of office supplies, but there's always something you need right now not next day.

there is a staples express, kinkos, fed ex full service, and office depot express, etc etc etc all within 100 yards of my building in downtown boston

they get plenty of business and its mostly targeted at those "support" businesses like the dry cleaners, barber shops, H&R blocks, etc

the economy of the area will come full circle

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how about...

hard rock cafe "power block" haha

or

PF Changs, Ruth's Chris's, etc at La Salle Square

a Staples Express would be good near a new office tower

and you will also see stuff like dry cleaners, barber shops, hair salons, men's suit stores, dress shoe stores like aldo, and maybe a couple radio shack/sony store types move in

capitive audience an office tower is

a target downtown would be great, but i would put it far away from the mall as possible, like towards the jewelry district or westminster/washington street to be more of a neighborhood asset as well for jwu and those living downtown. how about the bottom floor 2 floors of a 7 story parking garage behind the garrahy courthouse???

Staples Express sounds cool, but the quirky places I would rather see on Westminster and Washington. Urban big-boxes would be good for this spot and would not compete with the mall.

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Target could be a likely candidate now that Wal-mart is coming soon. They seem to follow suit. I disagree that they would compete. Target is more affordable, caters to a wider demographic, and is a general merchandise store. Bed, Bath, & Beyond is more a specialty store and they have a much wider selection of items of better quality. It wouldn't have to be a Target per se, but a general merchandise store (not Wal-Mart) like Downtown had when Woolworth's was there....maybe a Costco...

anyone interested in a target store downtown should look at the brand new one in downtown stamford, ct

from its location, styling, and general pedestrian activity it looks to be very successful and a great addition to the area

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i do not believe this city has the stones to make a big box retailer toe the design line in downtown providence.

I would love to be proven wrong, but i don't think it will happen.

I think they could, the difference between the Downcity core and say Charles or North Main is that Downcity the zoning is there, build to the street, replace sidewalks... Now would it be a pretty building, that's not written into the zoning, and I think it really can't be, what's pretty? But given the progress the DDRC has made with Sierra Suites I'd hold out hope.

Better would be that we see something like Empire at Broadway (I hate that name by the way, can we call it [email protected]?), where a Target or Marshall's slips into the shell built by another developer.

With WalMart coming into the city, and a stylish demographic arriving in the new condos, and area dorms, Target may be eager to come here and willing to play ball. And at least a retailer like Target, has a history of building stores suitable to an urban environment.

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anyone interested in a target store downtown should look at the brand new one in downtown stamford, ct

from its location, styling, and general pedestrian activity it looks to be very successful and a great addition to the area

They also have urban stores in New Rochelle,NY , Jersey City and Brooklyn.

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3 big-box retailers with levels of parking above and 5-7 stories of office space above that and trees on the roof to satisfy Jenn!

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I don't think downcity has enough foot traffic, access, or visibility yet to attract a big box. And, again, I really think we need a supermarket and/or pharmacy downtown first for the people who live there.

I could see Target getting interested after all of the main developments are done in a couple of years...

- Garris

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I don't think downcity has enough foot traffic, access, or visibility yet to attract a big box. And, again, I really think we need a supermarket and/or pharmacy downtown first for the people who live there.

I could see Target getting interested after all of the main developments are done in a couple of years...

- Garris

Stamford doesn't really have a hell of a lot of traffic eiither for that matter. It's whether or not it could fit into the demographic of the city. In Worcester, Lincoln Street contains big-box retail in a more suburban setting( albeit in Worcester) but does well because it is on a busline and is accessible to a bigger population.With stores that may be popular to all demographics of the city, I could see it being more of a success....esp when I see Prov people getting off at the Ea. Prov./Seekonk line and walking down Rt.6 to shop. One of my suggestions was a pharmacy. A full scale pharmacy would be better positioned on Weybosset. ( maybe Grant's Block)

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Stamford doesn't really have a hell of a lot of traffic eiither for that matter. It's whether or not it could fit into the demographic of the city. In Worcester, Lincoln Street contains big-box retail in a more suburban setting( albeit in Worcester) but does well because it is on a busline and is accessible to a bigger population.With stores that may be popular to all demographics of the city, I could see it being more of a success....esp when I see Prov people getting off at the Ea. Prov./Seekonk line and walking down Rt.6 to shop.

Exactly, people don't remember that there are a lot of people in Providence without cars (me) and we'd all be very happy to take the bus to Downtown, rather than Kmart at Brewery Parkade, or worse yet WalMart or Kohls at the RI Mall. :sick: Taking the bus Downtown is much easier and reliable than trying to take the bus out to suburban malls. It's not fun to hang around the Rhode Island Mall for an hour after missing the bus. :( There's a lot of people in the outer neighborhoods who aren't Downtown now, but give them a reason to, a destination, and they will come.

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