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PROPOSED: Williams-Woods Place affordable apts.

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South Providence development to feature 65 units

The townhouse-style apartments, at the site of the former Roger Williams Homes, would fetch rents between $693 to $797 per month.

BY GREGORY SMITH

Journal Staff Writer - Tuesday, July 13, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- Sixty-five townhouse-style apartments are in the offing at one of the city's more controversial development sites, where the Roger Williams Homes public housing project used to stand in South Providence.

The apartments would be compatible with the architecture of the neighborhood -- houses built in the late 1800s and early 1900s, said Chris Barnett, spokesman for the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation.

At a meeting tomorrow afternoon, the city Plan Commission is scheduled to discuss the master plan for the $10.4-million project, which would be financed by RIHMFC. The project requires commission approval.

The two- and three-bedroom units would be built in seven to 12 buildings, according to Chris Starr, vice president of development of Winn Development Corp., of Boston, which is the primary developer for the joint venture undertaking the project.

In the mid-1980s, most of Roger Williams Homes was demolished. It was to be replaced by new housing -- a project called Mandela Woods was laid out -- but years of disputes and litigation sidelined that plan.

The city built a school on part of the site, leaving 5.06 acres for a revived housing development at Rugby Street and Pavilion Avenue.

Dubbed Williams-Woods Place, that new development is a joint venture of Winn, the Providence Housing Authority, which owns the land, and a nonprofit group called Family Housing Development Corporation.

"Years ago there was tremendous community interest in this site," Barnett said. "Today, the city's skyrocketing rents and real estate prices make the need for housing even greater.

"I expect a lot of people who are struggling to pay the rent every month will have a serious interest in this proposal."

Williams-Woods Place would be affordable for people of modest means, with two-bedroom units renting for $693 per month and three-bedroom units for $797.

To be eligible for the apartments, a family would have to earn no more than 60 percent of the regional median family income. For a family of three, that would be $48,880, according to Barnett.

In order to make the apartments available at deeply discounted rents, the joint venture intends to take advantage of the subsidy available from the federal housing tax credit program, which is administered locally by RIHMFC.

The joint venture expects to be allowed to raise $7.2 million of the project cost by selling the tax credits to investment funds or corporate buyers who would use the credits to offset their federal tax liabilities.

The balance of the $10.4-million cost, according to Barnett, probably would come from RIHMFC loans and grants.

The Plan Commission meets at 4:30 p.m. in a fourth-floor conference room of the city Department of Planning and Development, 400 Westminster St.

From The Providence Journal

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Let's post an update, shall we? :D This project seems like a step in the right direction regarding the provision of affordable housing.

http://www.projo.com/metro/content/projo_2...a1.1edcd16.html

This does sound like a great development for the area. With its proximity to schools & the community center, it has potential to become a real neighborhood. The thing that concerns me in this area and much of South Providence is the lack of commercial space, though. Are there stores and restaurants & any commercial centers nearby that the new residents will be able to walk to? It seems like there are vast areas of just residential space and institutional (schools, hospitals, etc.), which, even if its all fixed up and the burned out areas filled in with housing, still doesn't make a nice community.

Unless some commercial centers are developed, much of South Providence is going to continue to feel remote and isolated from the good things about Urban life.

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This does sound like a great development for the area. With its proximity to schools & the community center, it has potential to become a real neighborhood. The thing that concerns me in this area and much of South Providence is the lack of commercial space, though. Are there stores and restaurants & any commercial centers nearby that the new residents will be able to walk to? It seems like there are vast areas of just residential space and institutional (schools, hospitals, etc.), which, even if its all fixed up and the burned out areas filled in with housing, still doesn't make a nice community.

Unless some commercial centers are developed, much of South Providence is going to continue to feel remote and isolated from the good things about Urban life.

Broad St. is a very short walk away and it is the most thriving street in all of Providence....albeit one of the dirtiest. A convenience store there will be just fine. There aleready is a full service market, 2 pharmacies, various nightclubs, resturants, gas stations, retail, etc. within 4 blocks.

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Broad St. is a very short walk away and it is the most thriving street in all of Providence.

Now that I look at a map, I see that the site is quite close to Broad Street. That is great, and a great boon to the Broad St. businesses, as well. I stand corrected. I was thinking the site was further North.

A lot of South Providence is quite far from the real commercial areas on Broad Street. I still think a lot of the residential areas between Eddy and Prairie could benefit from some walkable neighborhood markets & other amenities.

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Now that I look at a map, I see that the site is quite close to Broad Street. That is great, and a great boon to the Broad St. businesses, as well. I stand corrected. I was thinking the site was further North.

A lot of South Providence is quite far from the real commercial areas on Broad Street. I still think a lot of the residential areas between Eddy and Prairie could benefit from some walkable neighborhood markets & other amenities.

You are correct @ Prairie and Eddy and that side being well under-represented in terms of neighborhood services. However, there is a development plan in the works for this dilapidated area. See Here!

Although South Providence may not be that desirable for many, it has made complete strides in the last 2 decades. It was equally bad as North Philly as now in the 80's when I went to school there. Now there are stores , people, and virtually no abandoned and burnt out structures. The area is 10 times better today than it ever was....and the area truly represents the effect oProvidence's re-birth and reversal of population loss.

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You are correct @ Prairie and Eddy and that side being well under-represented in terms of neighborhood services. However, there is a development plan in the works for this dilapidated area. See Here!

Although South Providence may not be that desirable for many, it has made complete strides in the last 2 decades. It was equally bad as North Philly as now in the 80's when I went to school there. Now there are stores , people, and virtually no abandoned and burnt out structures. The area is 10 times better today than it ever was....and the area truly represents the effect oProvidence's re-birth and reversal of population loss.

Just some info for you new Rhode Islanders. The Urban renewal of the late 50's and early 60's destroyed a large commercial area along Praire Ave. This retail/commercial area was centered at Willard Ave and Praire Avenue. Kosher markets, bakeries, meat markets, drug stores, pubs and much more expanded along Praire Ave. Beyond that were 3 story tenements as far as the eye could see. This type of landscape was repeated in other parts of Providence and for that matter in other cities.

The urban renewal was actually the destroyer of South Providence. It was completed with the fires of 66 and 67 that flattened much of this area and that around St. Michaels.

The entrance to South Providence from the city was at Point/Plain and Prairie. Both the Ocean St and Praire Ave bus lines, both gone, ran at 15 minute headways all day into the evening. Right behind the YMCA where 195/95 meet was a large park called Hayward Park. Filled with children and adults. The oldtimers were always here playing checkers or chess. If I remember correctly there were at least 20 tables in which on a summer day each would be filled with men of all ages playing chess.

This was when Providence was the city of 250,000 and there was pride that is now just coming back.

Mark

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