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Smith Hill wants retail

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Residents in Smith Hill want to add new stores

Providence College is being urged to develop a block of stores to help maintain Smith Street as a center for retail.

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer Monday, March 29, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Smith Hill civic leaders hope to persuade Providence College to build a small block of stores on Smith Street, at the site of the former Valueland supermarket.

City Councilman Terrence M. Hassett, D-Ward 12, said last week that although the college has planned for several years to build athletic fields at the site, he and others want to see part of the land set aside for stores.

Their goal, he said, is to maintain the streetscape and the viability of Smith Street as a retail center.

The Valueland site is among the topics on the table for discussion April 5, when the city Department of Planning and Development is scheduled to present a tentative mini-plan for Smith Hill at a community meeting. The grocery closed in 1998.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Times2 Academy charter school, on Fillmore Street.

Each of the city's 25 neighborhoods is to have a mini-plan drawn up as part of a thorough update of the comprehensive plan for the city. The mini-plans would be put together to constitute the citywide plan.

The state-mandated comprehensive plan is the underpinning for the city's zoning code and a general blueprint for the way public money can be spent.

Mayor David N. Cicilline has dubbed the revision process for the comprehensive plan the Providence Neighborhood Investment Project.

Hassett said a new block of stores is desirable adjacent to King's Hardware on Smith Street.

The new idea follows a failed effort to have a supermarket and associated stores built to replace Valueland after it closed.

At one point, Hassett had begun the process of trying to wrest control of the property from PC through the city's power of eminent domain, but he and other neighborhood leaders decided to work cooperatively with the college instead.

Civic leaders also are asking PC to surround the athletic fields, when it builds them, with an attractive, wrought-iron fence with brick pillars.

For the time being, PC is using the Valueland site as a staging area for construction on its campus.

Improvement projects already under way for the Smith Street and Douglas Avenue corridors are expected to be incorporated into the mini-plan to be presented at the April 5 meeting.

City leaders plan to use $800,000 in city bond money and federal aid made available by the state Department of Transportation to install decorative lighting and spruce up storefronts on Smith Street.

"It's Rhode Island's main street," Hassett said. "It's the roadway to the State House."

On and off Douglas Avenue, an entire block near St. Patrick's Cemetery is poised for redevelopment, with a boost from the expansion of Times2 Academy.

The Providence Redevelopment Agency, of which Hassett is a member, owns six lots flanking the Brooklyn Coffee and Tea House, which are slated for housing and retail development. A former print shop is being acquired from the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation as part of the redevelopment.

The ground-floor spaces in the new buildings would house stores and the upper floors, condominiums. The block is rounded out by the presence of Times2, which is expanding in an environmentally tainted brownfield that is being cleaned up.

To make way for the Times2 expansion, the Providence Housing Authority plans to move three houses elsewhere on Smith Hill.

In partnership with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, students from Times2 plan to fix up the historic, diocesan-owned St. Patrick's Cemetery, which has been damaged by vandals.

Describing Smith Hill's progress, Hassett pointed out the resurfacing of Smith, Whipple and Fillmore streets and the installation of sidewalks along the length of Fillmore.

Until the resurfacing, drivers encountered "potholes as big as swimming pools," the councilman said.

A $50-million city bond issue for public works and housing paid for the street and sidewalk work.

The neighborhood also is 2 1/2 years into a project for the construction or rehabilitation of 28 units of affordable housing being handled by the Smith Hill Development Corporation.

More businesses and homeowners are moving into Smith Hill, Hassett said, helping to pick up those blocks that need help and to sustain those that are doing all right.

"I think we've got a pretty good thing going here," he said.

The Smith Street and Douglas Avenue projects are part of what neighborhood leaders call the Smith Hill Now community plan. Hassett said he expects Smith Hill Now, in effect, to be made part of the city's mini-plan.

"I think this is stringing together a lot of what has already happened," the councilman said of the mini-plan.

"The reason we named it Smith Hill Now is because we want to do it now," the councilman said. "We know what the problems are. We know what we have to do."

From The Providence Journal

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Its sounds like cities a waking up to the need for a human scaled streetscape. I hope both parties can get what they want.

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The mayor is trying to balance the need to develop Downcity with the need to also have vibrant neighbourhoods. It's difficult because there is only so much investment to go around. Federal Hill and the East Side are very strong neighbourhoods (stronger than Downcity right now), but the rest of the city is rather, eh. It's not all terrible, but the neighbourhoods need work.

Smith Hill is one of those areas of the city that is poised to be the next it place. The Armory and the West Side have a good head of steam going, and some mill renovation around Onleyville could provide a kick-start for that area. Smith Hill has some great housing stock. It has great proximity to downtown, it just needs a little streetlife to get people interested. This area around PC is the perfect area to invigorate Smith Hill.

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http://www.smithhillcdc.org/

It looks like much has been done to rehabilitate residential properties in this area. I believe the Valueland is still closed though. I always thought this neighborhood was better-positioned to benefit from the Renaissance before say, Olneyville and "Promenade." The Chalkstone/Orms end is more primed to see a revitalization than the Douglas Ave. end. There are a lot of properties on the north side in very bad shape and its hard to walk around Douglas with all the aggressive auto traffic moving to/ from the Charles area via the sidestreets. Not too much more than a gas station, liquor store, and a couple of bars for retail in the area right now.

Does anyone on UP live in this area? Anything new going on around Smith Hill?

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http://www.smithhillcdc.org/

It looks like much has been done to rehabilitate residential properties in this area. I believe the Valueland is still closed though. I always thought this neighborhood was better-positioned to benefit from the Renaissance before say, Olneyville and "Promenade." The Chalkstone/Orms end is more primed to see a revitalization than the Douglas Ave. end. There are a lot of properties on the north side in very bad shape and its hard to walk around Douglas with all the aggressive auto traffic moving to/ from the Charles area via the sidestreets. Not too much more than a gas station, liquor store, and a couple of bars for retail in the area right now.

Does anyone on UP live in this area? Anything new going on around Smith Hill?

I don't live there but can say that the part of Smith Hill around Holden St. has really come up over the past few years. A few years ago PC wanted to acquire the Valueland property to turn it into athletic fields but the city councilman there and residents opposed it because they wanted a new supermarket to move in.

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I don't live there but can say that the part of Smith Hill around Holden St. has really come up over the past few years. A few years ago PC wanted to acquire the Valueland property to turn it into athletic fields but the city councilman there and residents opposed it because they wanted a new supermarket to move in.

Never gonna happen. Was there a chain interested in the site? If not they shouldn't have opened up against it!

Its YIMBY-time! :offtopic:

All the small Almacs/IGA/A&P-sized markets folded in the 80's and 90's in favor of the superstores we have now. Academy Market on Chalkstone has survived because its convenient and was Mount Pleasant's only market for decades until the big Shaw's opened. You never see any small grocery stores opening up today. PriceRite and Save-A-Lot have scooped up a few of the old spaces, but they aren't full-service markets.

You might get a Job Lot in there if you're lucky. Pearlman only opens stores in old buildings with below-market rents, hence OSJ's success in today's mega-chain retail world. And that building has been vacant a long time.

and besides not being full-service, some people don't recognize it as a market altogether!

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Never gonna happen. Was there a chain interested in the site? If not they shouldn't have opened up against it!

Its YIMBY-time! :offtopic:

All the small Almacs/IGA/A&P-sized markets folded in the 80's and 90's in favor of the superstores we have now. Academy Market on Chalkstone has survived because its convenient and was Mount Pleasant's only market for decades until the big Shaw's opened. You never see any small grocery stores opening up today. PriceRite and Save-A-Lot have scooped up a few of the old spaces, but they aren't full-service markets.

You might get a Job Lot in there if you're lucky. Pearlman only opens stores in old buildings with below-market rents, hence OSJ's success in today's mega-chain retail world. And that building has been vacant a long time.

and besides not being full-service, some people don't recognize it as a market altogether!

That's true. You don't see those mid-size markets anymore unless they're ethnic. I wouldn't be too surprised if one day you see a CVS or a Walgreen's on the Valueland property.

Love Ocean State Job Lot!

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The Valueland property is on the market now. They have been in negotiations with several tenants and developers.

http://www.smithhillcdc.org/

It looks like much has been done to rehabilitate residential properties in this area. I believe the Valueland is still closed though. I always thought this neighborhood was better-positioned to benefit from the Renaissance before say, Olneyville and "Promenade." The Chalkstone/Orms end is more primed to see a revitalization than the Douglas Ave. end. There are a lot of properties on the north side in very bad shape and its hard to walk around Douglas with all the aggressive auto traffic moving to/ from the Charles area via the sidestreets. Not too much more than a gas station, liquor store, and a couple of bars for retail in the area right now.

Does anyone on UP live in this area? Anything new going on around Smith Hill?

I live around Holden Street/ St. Patrick's area.

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It sounded like they were planning on building to the street with parking in the back.

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i live in elmhurst, so i'm not too far from smith hill and have to drive down smith street everytime i go downtown or to the east side.

PC is trying to re-coup some money they lost elsewhere by selling the valueland property. i've heard that they were going to use it for athletic fields (which would have been good because they could use the fields on campus for other uses), but supposedly the land itself was full of toxic crap and it would've cost too much to have it cleaned. that property would be a great location for another grocery store or maybe a small shopping center. the current building is built to the sidewalk, so they could have 2 entrances to any stores there, one from the back and one from the sidewalk.

a tim hortons at chalkstone and douglas would be great if built to the sidewalk. currently, i have 2 dunkin donuts within half a mile of my apartment. they're both built to the sidewalk. the one on admiral st has a small parking lot next to it. the one on smith (across from la salle) does not have a parking lot, and is much nicer. they actually did a good job of fitting this one in with the streetscape there. i was very impressed by it after it opened and continue to be as the service is really good as well and it's always very clean.

i like the idea of having more closer to my apartment... i currently don't usually travel more than a mile for anything... i have a CVS, walgreens, and shaw's all within a mile of my apartment. some shopping would be nice as well...

smith hill is a great neighborhood and pretty diverse. there's a good sized asian population in part of it and there's a lot of hispanic as well. some of the houses off the main roads are pretty neat as well. douglas ave can be scary at night with the chad brown projects so close. smith st down by chalkstone can also be a bit scary very late at night (i had someone start approaching my car when i was at a stop light screaming something at me one time, i started to pull away and he turned around). but the areas have a LOT of potential. i was sad to see that the earthen vessel had closed. that always looked like a cool store and i had been meaning to get down there, but it's now closed. and you all know that there's some decent restaurants on douglas... sticky fingers and cafe 412 are both good. and the best frozen lemonade is right by the admiral/douglas intersection... mr. lemon!

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Never gonna happen. Was there a chain interested in the site? If not they shouldn't have opened up against it!

Its YIMBY-time! :offtopic:

All the small Almacs/IGA/A&P-sized markets folded in the 80's and 90's in favor of the superstores we have now. Academy Market on Chalkstone has survived because its convenient and was Mount Pleasant's only market for decades until the big Shaw's opened. You never see any small grocery stores opening up today. PriceRite and Save-A-Lot have scooped up a few of the old spaces, but they aren't full-service markets.

You might get a Job Lot in there if you're lucky. Pearlman only opens stores in old buildings with below-market rents, hence OSJ's success in today's mega-chain retail world. And that building has been vacant a long time.

and besides not being full-service, some people don't recognize it as a market altogether!

that would be a great spot for a job lot... i think providence needs another one. the current one is practically cranston.

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i was sad to see that the earthen vessel had closed. that always looked like a cool store and i had been meaning to get down there, but it's now closed.

Earthen Vessel closed? Crap

I loved that place! I used to go there all the time when I lived on Smith St.

Anyone know why it closed?

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Earthen Vessel closed? Crap

I loved that place! I used to go there all the time when I lived on Smith St.

Anyone know why it closed?

there's been a "for rent" or "for lease" sign in it for at least a month now... and there's sheets over the windows.

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smith hill is a great neighborhood and pretty diverse. there's a good sized asian population in part of it and there's a lot of hispanic as well. some of the houses off the main roads are pretty neat as well. douglas ave can be scary at night with the chad brown projects so close. smith st down by chalkstone can also be a bit scary very late at night (i had someone start approaching my car when i was at a stop light screaming something at me one time, i started to pull away and he turned around). but the areas have a LOT of potential. i was sad to see that the earthen vessel had closed. that always looked like a cool store and i had been meaning to get down there, but it's now closed. and you all know that there's some decent restaurants on douglas... sticky fingers and cafe 412 are both good. and the best frozen lemonade is right by the admiral/douglas intersection... mr. lemon!

I used to live on Garfield across from Greene School. I think Smith Hill is a very solid urban hood. There are many Asian families in the area who work hard and care for their properties, improving the neighborhood. I try not to use the term Hispanic. I have friends in my neighborhood who are Guatemalan-American and they get extremely offended when grouped together with Puerto Ricans, for reasons I won't talk about. I can't stand late-night punks, they're always at that 7 Eleven and the operator never does anything to clear 'em out.

Where's Cafe 412? Never heard of it! And is mr. lemon better than Del's?!

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I used to live on Garfield across from Greene School. I think Smith Hill is a very solid urban hood. There are many Asian families in the area who work hard and care for their properties, improving the neighborhood. I try not to use the term Hispanic. I have friends in my neighborhood who are Guatemalan-American and they get extremely offended when grouped together with Puerto Ricans, for reasons I won't talk about. I can't stand late-night punks, they're always at that 7 Eleven and the operator never does anything to clear 'em out.

Where's Cafe 412? Never heard of it! And is mr. lemon better than Del's?!

is the term latino better? i actually know that mexican-americans also hate being grouped with puerto ricans, and i think brazilians do as well.

cafe 412, although i've never been to it, but heard it's really good, is on douglas ave. mr lemon is on hawkins st, which is off admiral next to walgreens. mr lemon, in my opinion, is better than del's. it's sweeter than del's, but del's can be a bit more refreshing depending on where you get it (del's can be inconsistent with the amount of flavor, mr lemon is always right on).

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Earthen Vessel closed? Crap

I loved that place! I used to go there all the time when I lived on Smith St.

Anyone know why it closed?

I heard from them that business just got really tough when you can buy a brand new chinese appliance for $150 from Home Depot. They sold their warehouse in South Providence too. There was some amazing stuff there.

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is the term latino better? i actually know that mexican-americans also hate being grouped with puerto ricans, and i think brazilians do as well.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and other latino ethnic groups that come here are not. It's pure envy.

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I live in Smith Hill and love it. I'm glad the area is slowly coming around....just wish it(redevelopment) would extend a little further out down Smith....The junction of Chalkstone and Smith needs something like they just did in Olneyville...a major square renovation.

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I live in Smith Hill and love it. I'm glad the area is slowly coming around....just wish it(redevelopment) would extend a little further out down Smith....The junction of Chalkstone and Smith needs something like they just did in Olneyville...a major square renovation.

agreed. i'd like to see a nice square renovation at the intersection of admiral and douglas. it has the potential to be a pretty decent area. it's frequented by PC students because it's walking distance for them. it's got some restaurants that do mainly takeout and it's got some bars. it needs more. LJ's was a major loss for that area.

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I live in Smith Hill and love it. I'm glad the area is slowly coming around....just wish it(redevelopment) would extend a little further out down Smith....The junction of Chalkstone and Smith needs something like they just did in Olneyville...a major square renovation.

I was thinking about this today for Atwells Ave. and Valley St. Major overhaul. Some kind of office building (SE parcel) or (SW parcel) bar - restaurant with offices or apartments above. It would blend with the multi unit houses on Atwells which are built to the street, but might be built higher. There's lots of surface parking in the Blockbuster Video lot near that corner. The intersection sits at the lowpoint of the valley, so some height is appropriate. Its the crossing between Federal Hill, Olneyville, and the Promenade District, so a major overhaul would make this neighborhood shine.

DOT can finally resurface Atwells Ave. (and sidewalks?) during construction. <_< Dream on...

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Does anyone know the deal with the old ValueLand store on Smith Street? I hear that PC bought the derelict store and huge parking lot for like $1.25M, couldn't make it work for their plans, so put it back on the block for like $2.5M. Any truth to it? And are there any other abandoned sites (Apex-like stores; mini malls, etc) like this out there?

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