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Cotuit

"Back of the Hill"

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I posted this photo of the area of Federal Hill that I hate to love, and have dubbed, "The Back of the Hill."

2006-0621-brayton001.jpg

As you can see it's a pile of rubble which hours earlier was two large apartment buildings. According to the Planning Department, they were indeed torn down for parking. :(

Now I hate to love this area because you can see how it used to be vibrant and whole. There's a smattering of wooden buildings up at the top of the hill near Atwells, mostly not too well kept, but historically interesting. At the bottom of the hill on West Exchange is a number of brick warehouse buildings, and one that I think was a school. In the middle, along Cedar Street are acres of surface parking. :cry: So much potential, ruined!

2006-0713-backhill001.jpg

2006-0713-backhill002.jpg

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2006-0713-backhill004.jpg

backofthehill-map.jpg

Above is the LiveLocal view. Look beyond the colored squares, the neighborhood has some nice bones (the why I love it), but all the red blocks are surface parking (the why I hate to love it). Above and to the left of the green box is West Exchange Center (I think that's what they're calling it) which appears to be being redeveloped. The green square was surface parking, now becoming a front courtyard (nice, though I understand the renovations are at the expense of some non-profit tenants, but I don't know all sides of that story, so let me stop digressing). Below that green square is a purple square, seen in the second photo. The surface of the lot has been removed, should I hope they're building something there?

The yellow box is the artist colony that f1rehead proposed for the Produce Warehouse, I'd like to bring it to this side of the highway though. That land is owned by RIPTA, and some of it by the city.

So what's the point of this thread? I don't know really, I just know that this area could be so wonderful and it pains me to see it looking so crappy (and with the loss of the two apartment buildings getting worse). What can be done? :unsure:

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This is the kind of area that nothing short of a "master plan" emphasizing increased taxation of unused land will be able to save. It won't happen organically on its own with a polygot of owners. Who is using all that surface parking now, and for what purpose?

Also, Cotuit, I love those overhead, color-coded "parking maps" you make. If we get a political action arm of UP going, I'd love to print some of those as 13X19 images on my printer to use as visual aides at presentations. It really dramatically illustrates the problem...

- Garris

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Also, Cotuit, I love those overhead, color-coded "parking maps" you make. If we get a political action arm of UP going, I'd love to print some of those as 13X19 images on my printer to use as visual aides at presentations. It really dramatically illustrates the problem...

Well I shrink them down for the web, but it doesn't take much to make them, so I can certainly remake them at a larger resolution.

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every time the building department gives out a demo permit to tear down three family (or more housing) for parking, we lose what was probably affordable rental housing which continues to make the affordable housing crunch worse. Is there a way to count up all the units lost to parking?

the incredible sea of parking lot along the bones of atwells avenue is one of the reasons i do not frequent businesses up on the hill. I simply refuse to support that institution that believes that people who live in the neighborhood are merely squatting on future parking lots. i cannot believe for One Moment that between all the businesses up there, and with a few municipal dollars a nice parking garage couldn't have been built on just ONE of those giant asphalt oceans.

i am absolutely going to push to ensure that every single one of those lots gets rezoned as commercial so they are taxed appropriately. I'm willing to bet that most of them continue to be listed in the assessors office as residential, maybe even homestead exempted.

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This is the kind of area that nothing short of a "master plan" emphasizing increased taxation of unused land will be able to save. It won't happen organically on its own with a polygot of owners. Who is using all that surface parking now, and for what purpose?

Also, Cotuit, I love those overhead, color-coded "parking maps" you make. If we get a political action arm of UP going, I'd love to print some of those as 13X19 images on my printer to use as visual aides at presentations. It really dramatically illustrates the problem...

- Garris

I would imagine it is the valet parkers for one. Also, when looking at the map, do you notice how little space was created by tearing those down?

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[i]"i am absolutely going to push to ensure that every single one of those lots gets rezoned as commercial so they are taxed appropriately. I'm willing to bet that most of them continue to be listed in the assessors office as residential, maybe even homestead exempted."

This is a very disturbing comment. Correct me if I'm wrong here...so you are saying that there are certain loopholes that go totally unnoticed in this "formerly" corrupt city where people can take residential property and just turn them into lots because they aren't taxed as commercial.... :angry: And no one has thought about doing something about this? It makes me wonder @ Paolino.

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It makes me wonder @ Paolino.

I wonder why Paolino didn't close these loopholes when he was mayor...

..oh, that's right. :huh:

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Who is using all that surface parking now, and for what purpose?

I would imagine it is the valet parkers for one.

Actually, I think most of it is businesses along West Exchange Street. Looking at the aerial, you can see there isn't much parking in amongst the buildings on West Exchange, and there are a lot of offices in there. That's no excuse to tear down houses for parking though.

The density of offices on West Exchange is another reason to love to hate this area. With the concentration of people working in this area, it could have vibrant streetlife. But there is nothing but offices and parking lots, its really nothing more than a suburban office 'park' sitting right on the edge of Downtown.

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every time the building department gives out a demo permit to tear down three family (or more housing) for parking, we lose what was probably affordable rental housing which continues to make the affordable housing crunch worse. Is there a way to count up all the units lost to parking?

I wonder if there are any teeth in the current affordable housing ordinances/legislation (@ city or state level) that could force some sort of a show cause by a landlord if they wanted to literally destroy affordable housing to create a parking lot?

If not, that might not an interesting solution for the City Council to advance by ordinance, that you can't destroy a non-condemned building that counts towards affordable housing to create a parking lot, without review and approval by the ZBR. The long term solution could be found in the Comp Plan and zoning process, but a lot of parking lots could be created before that winds its way to conclusion.

That sort of solution might interest one of the affordable housing advocates on the Council.

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i cannot believe for One Moment that between all the businesses up there, and with a few municipal dollars a nice parking garage couldn't have been built on just ONE of those giant asphalt oceans.

Its been discussed before how garages are too expensive to build and not very profitable. Who's the person downtown responsible for handing out these demolision permits?

Furthermore, who represents this neighborhood anyway? I would be very mad if I had to watch the wrecking ball demolish the neighborhood around me for dirt parking lots. On Smith Hill, RI Housing and the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation are constructing new units and rehabilitating old duplexes into quality affordable housing. Why is Federal Hill going backwards?

Actually, I think most of it is businesses along West Exchange Street.

The parcel labeled "Parking Deck" should be 6 or 8 levels and not 2. This is where most of the office parking seems to be concentrated. There would then be no need for the 3 red empty parcels adjacent to the purple parcel, and these could be developed into residential with 1st floor retail or a nice new office building (not like the one at Dean and W Exchange). I don't know if residential there could be affordable, because you're within walking distance of Atwells Ave and Downtown, but the area right now is mostly office space... so actually I don't know if high end would work either. The immediate area is probably dead after 6:00pm. Maybe light manufacturing or some kind of biotech lab?

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