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IN PROGRESS: Angell Way (K. Gibbs School site)

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Orchestra buys Gibbs for expansion

The Rhode Island Philharmonic says its music school needs more space than it has at Nathan Bishop Middle School.

BY KAREN A. DAVIS

Journal Staff Writer - Thursday, March 18, 2004

PROVIDENCE -- The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra has bought the former Katharine Gibbs School on Butler Avenue and plans to expand the building and make it the new home for its music school.

The organization must first win approval from the city's Zoning Board of Review.

Philharmonic representatives are expected to present their proposal at the board's April meeting, according to Peter Carnevale, a zoning official. The date of the meeting has not been set.

According to documents filed with the city, the philharmonic bought the building at 178 Butler from the Episcopal Diocese of Providence in January.

The two-story building had been home to the school, who leased it from the diocese, for 40 years.

Katherine Gibbs School, which had long ago outgrown the East Side building, moved in January to a new building in Cranston.

The philharmonic, based at 222 Richmond St., now runs its music school out of borrowed space at Nathan Bishop Middle School. Its programs offer classes, ensembles and a youth orchestra.

According to a zoning application submitted by David Wax, the philharmonic's executive director, the Butler Avenue building is inadequate for the music school. Also, the building has an inadequate reception area that needs to be improved for better security and control of the building, the application reads.

Under the proposal, the philharmonic would add a third story to the building, which would enable it to create two large rooms for ensemble and orchestra rehearsals.

It would add a new entrance and driveway on the west side. A first-floor entrance and reception area would be included in a three-story addition, with space on the second for a parent/faculty lounge and space on the third floor for a function preparation room. The addition would contain an elevator and another staircase.

The new reception area addition, which would leave about a dozen parking spaces on the west side of the building, would make it easier for children to be dropped off and picked up, according to the proposal.

The project would include renovations to the building.

The plan, which would expand the building from 5,377 square feet to 6,177 square feet, would improve the traffic flow and the parking issues and will not alter the general character of the surrounding area, the proposal says.

The Gibbs School received a zoning variance in 1963 to operate. Because it seeks to expand the existing non-residential use, the philharmonic must get a zoning variance.

Philharmonic officials have declined to discuss their plans publicly until after the expansion is approved, said Pam Kennedy, a spokeswoman.

Philharmonic representatives have presented their proposal to a group of Wayland Square merchants and to neighbors, and have made some modifications to their plan as a result, philharmonic leaders said.

The expansion plan is receiving mixed reviews.

In a January letter to the Zoning Board, Frances S. Innis, of Moses Brown Street, president of the Wayland Square Residents Association, said some residents wonder about the effect on the surrounding area.

But citing the willingness of the philharmonic to accommodate the neighborhood, , and that its "mission is one of benefit to our society as a whole," Innis urged the board to back the expansion.

M. Rachel Sousa Baxter, of Medway Street, said in a February letter that "the quality of the possible new neighbor is excellent" but that "the impact on this already busy and congested area may be less desirable."

Baxter noted that inadequate parking at the Gibbs School had forced students to parking on residential streets and cross busy intersections.

In opposing the plan, she said that adding more cars and more pedestrians to a congested area "increases the potential for danger."

From The Providence Journal

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Philharmonic wants to build housing at school site

The former Katharine Gibbs School was to be the home of its music school.

BY KAREN A. DAVIS Journal Staff Writer | January 10, 2005

PROVIDENCE -- The Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra has abandoned plans to move its music school to the former Katharine Gibbs School on Butler Avenue.

It plans to sell the property to a developer that will replace the building with 16 apartments or condominiums with underground parking.

Representatives from the orchestra and the developer, the Armory Revival Co., will present their proposal to the city Board of Review tomorrow at 5 p.m. in the probate courtroom in City Hall.

The project would require a zoning variance because it calls for a larger, four-story structure, according to Peter Carnevale, a zoning official.

The project also needs a variance in order to build a structure for more than three families.

An additional variance is needed to allow developers to pave most of the backyard. Regulations allow for only 50 percent of a rear yard to be paved.

The philharmonic bought the building from the Episopal Diocese of Providence last January.

Gibbs had leased the two-story building for 40 years.

It moved in January to a new building in Cranston.

The philharmonic has been running its music school at Nathan Bishop Middle School.

Its plan to move the school to Butler Avenue was soundly criticized by some neighbors, who said the area is already congested and that students walking to and from the building could be injured by traffic.

From The Providence Journal

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This is the condo I was referring to that they want to put up behind my condo in Wayland Square. It's very high density looking, with a center antrium type of arrangement, four stories (high for this neighborhood), underground parking, and no greenery at all (it takes up every square inch of the property). It should probably be built downtown, but they want to put it here. I think the neighbors would all be happier if they dropped they fourth floor and added even a sliver of greenery. Otherwise, it's actually a nice project. They have the fantasy that they are going to get $750,000-$1,000,000 (at least 3 times what the average condo goes for around here) for each of the 16 two bedroom units in the place.

- Garris

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Problem is that is is totally out of scale for the neighborhood and the neighbors were gearing up for a fight. The developers realized it and have talked with some in the community that killed the Philharmonic deal. Planning Dept. has recommended against the current plan. The likely result is removal of 4th floor and reduction to 12 units. Better? Perhaps, but would still require a use variance, which I find problematic.

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I'm not liking the total use of the entire parcel. As you said Garris, this would work downtown, but Wayland Square has more of a leafy appeal (the area reminds me of Brookline near Boston).

The problem as I understand it Downtown right now is that none of the parking lot owners want to sell. They are making good money off of their lots and there's no reason for them to give that up. The property taxes are still low enough that the profit margins on parking are quite good. Andres Duany suggested during his charrette last year that the city use some strategic emminent domain powers. Taking over the lots that have the best potential to be developed, and that will be developed in a way that will help the neighbourhood move forward (a grocery store for instance). This would raise the value of the neighbouring lots making it more profitable for the parking lot owners to sell, rather than keep parking. I think the developers working on the Wayland Square project, and the developers working on the Federal Hill condo might rather be building downtown, they just need to find people willing to sell.

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And welcome foxpointer! :)

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I think the developers working on the Wayland Square project, and the developers working on the Federal Hill condo might rather be building downtown, they just need to find people willing to sell.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Actually, in our neighborhood's discussion with the developers, they don't want to be downtown, they want to be in Wayland Square. Their logic (such that is it), is as follows:

- They believe Wayland Square is comparable to Beacon Hill in Boston (seriously!)

- Beacon Hill can get $1100 per sq foot, so they think Wayland square should be able to get $400 per sq foot.

- They believe that there are many older people who own 1+ million dollar homes in the Providence area who would very much like to relieve themselves of the responsibilities of home ownership and the difficulties of stairs, etc. and buy a condo. That, plus young professionals from the Boston area looking for a cheaper Brookline alternative, and that's logic for filling the 16 units.

This development group is also the one doing many of the West Side condo conversions, and they have a great reputation, but I question some of the logic here...

- Garris

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Well as I said, Wayland Square reminds me of Brookline, Beacon Hill however... that would be Benefit Street.

You're not going to get people to leave Brookline for Wayland Square if you charge Brookline (or Beacon Hill) prices. Let's see, I can hop on the C line and be downtown in 15 minutes, or I can take a bus to Kennedy Plaza, walk to the train station, hop on the commuter rail and be in Boston in an hour and a 45 minutes (if I'm lucky) for the same price... :huh:

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Ah, if only we had inclusionary zoning in place...

we coulda gotten a couple great mid-priced affordable units AND really pissed off the neighbors.

But this woulda been a great instance where it could come into play.

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actually, my friends who USED TO work at fidelity in boston are looking on the east side of providence now that they have to move from boston, etc...

you'd be surprised how many people are willing to jump ship from up here these days

also, huge article in the herald a couple days ago comparing providence to boston because of the fidelity move... they give these papers out for free in front of pretty much every T station in downtown and back bay in the morning and at night so it a big water-cooler topic these days

BUILD IT UP

peace I'm outta here

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actually, my friends who USED TO work at fidelity in boston are looking on the east side of providence now that they have to move from boston, etc...

why do your friends who "USED TO" work at Fidelity have to move from Boston if they don't work there anymore?

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As I posted elsewhere, it looked like there was a core sampler out in the K.Gibbs parking lot yesterday. I wonder if demolition can't be far behind... Supposedly construction is supposed to start this Spring...

- Garris

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As I sit here and type, some mild demolition work has begun on the K.Gibbs building, which will be replaced by an 11 unit, 4 story building.

- Garris

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I actually thought this article, which was linked at the bottom of the other one, was even more interesting. What will the people of Barrington do now with all of those dirty poor people moving in!!!!!

Court clears way for 50 affordable housing units in Barrington

The town tried to block the proposed Sweetbriar development. But the court upheld it, citing the small number of affordable units in town.

01:00 AM EDT on Sunday, July 2, 2006

PROVIDENCE -- The Rhode Island Supreme Court has upheld a decision by the State Housing Appeals Board granting approval for the construction of a 50-unit affordable-housing development in Barrington.

The ruling, made public Friday, appears to clear the way for the East Bay Community Development Corporation, a Bristol-based nonprofit group, to build the Sweetbriar housing development on the site of the former West Barrington Elementary School, off Washington Road.

In its ruling, the court instructs the Barrington Zoning Board to issue all necessary permits and approvals for the $9.8-million project, which has been in the works since 2003. But it does not prohibit the board from imposing conditions on the proposal.

It was the Zoning Board that initially turned down the application for the proposal, finding in 2004 that the housing proposal was not consistent with Barrington's comprehensive plan. The plan recommended redeveloping the approximately 9-acre site of the school for commercial purposes, rather than housing.

The local board also raised concerns about the safety of a proposed road into the development and the density of the housing plan.

Later that year, however, after East Bay CDC lodged an appeal, the Housing Appeals Board overturned the Zoning Board's decision, ruling that the project did in fact conform to the comprehensive plan and saying that safety standards should not have been a primary focus of the early permitting process.

It also cited in its decision the lack of low- and moderate-income housing in Barrington. About 1.5 percent of the town's housing is considered affordable, much lower than the state standard of 10 percent.

The Barrington Town Council appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

In the 39-page ruling, the court does acknowledge Barrington's position.

"We are mindful of the significant impact that a project of this scope is likely to have on the town, and of the legitimate concerns the town retains with respect to issues of health, safety and environmental protection," it says.

Nevertheless, the court states, the town is constrained by the affordable-housing law.

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I actually thought this article, which was linked at the bottom of the other one, was even more interesting. What will the people of Barrington do now with all of those dirty poor people moving in!!!!!

Court clears way for 50 affordable housing units in Barrington

The town tried to block the proposed Sweetbriar development. But the court upheld it, citing the small number of affordable units in town.

man o man. when will folks realise that affordable housing is now for the lower middle class working people, like me (work for a non profit) and my old man (works at the hospital.) and teachers, firefighters, etc. we totally qualify for affordable housing! and frankly, we're excellent neighbors. However, i'd chew my own leg off before i'd live in borington.

;)

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man o man. when will folks realise that affordable housing is now for the lower middle class working people, like me (work for a non profit) and my old man (works at the hospital.) and teachers, firefighters, etc. we totally qualify for affordable housing! and frankly, we're excellent neighbors. However, i'd chew my own leg off before i'd live in borington.

;)

You spelled "realize" wrong............. :rolleyes:

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man o man. when will folks realise that affordable housing is now for the lower middle class working people, like me (work for a non profit) and my old man (works at the hospital.) and teachers, firefighters, etc. we totally qualify for affordable housing! and frankly, we're excellent neighbors. However, i'd chew my own leg off before i'd live in borington.

;)

Take away Providence and Newport, and the first impression I would want any out of state visitor to get would be Barrington. The shop's and Plaza's that just ten years ago were nothing but hole in the wall offices are now destination type places that offer a real sence of RI. Town Hall and the Town Library are throw back, the WWII monument is very prestigious, and the stretch of Bike Path that runs through Barrington is first class. Now throw in PGA tour spot RICC, Barrington Beach, Ehco Lake, Brickyard Pond, Hains Park, and any of the Marina's you have yourself the "Best Town in RI". 100 acrer cove continualy is a haven for many types of rare birds and protected animals. I think your Idea of BARRINGTON is a bit dated. :thumbsup:

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Take away Providence and Newport, and the first impression I would want any out of state visitor to get would be Barrington. The shop's and Plaza's that just ten years ago were nothing but hole in the wall offices are now destination type places that offer a real sence of RI. Town Hall and the Town Library are throw back, the WWII monument is very prestigious, and the stretch of Bike Path that runs through Barrington is first class. Now throw in PGA tour spot RICC, Barrington Beach, Ehco Lake, Brickyard Pond, Hains Park, and any of the Marina's you have yourself the "Best Town in RI". 100 acrer cove continualy is a haven for many types of rare birds and protected animals. I think your Idea of BARRINGTON is a bit dated. :thumbsup:

The shops are nothing to brag about, they're just a series of strip malls that are very un-pedestrian friendly. The Town Hall and bike path are nice though.

Aren't there no bars in Barrington? Now that would make it Borington.

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The shops are nothing to brag about, they're just a series of strip malls that are very un-pedestrian friendly. The Town Hall and bike path are nice though.

Aren't there no bars in Barrington? Now that would make it Borington.

Was someone just bragging about Brickyard pond??? Ick.

If that wasn't a lifelong resident of Barrington posting, I don't know who is!

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Take away Providence and Newport, and the first impression I would want any out of state visitor to get would be Barrington. The shop's and Plaza's that just ten years ago were nothing but hole in the wall offices are now destination type places that offer a real sence of RI. Town Hall and the Town Library are throw back, the WWII monument is very prestigious, and the stretch of Bike Path that runs through Barrington is first class. Now throw in PGA tour spot RICC, Barrington Beach, Ehco Lake, Brickyard Pond, Hains Park, and any of the Marina's you have yourself the "Best Town in RI". 100 acrer cove continualy is a haven for many types of rare birds and protected animals. I think your Idea of BARRINGTON is a bit dated. :thumbsup:

perhaps, but i still wouldn't want to live there. I'd pick warren, bristol, tiverton, or little compton for starters, over barrington.

oh and wickford and scituate too. i definately would not take out of towners to barrington for any reason except to get to points south. ;)

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perhaps, but i still wouldn't want to live there. I'd pick warren, bristol, tiverton, or little compton for starters, over barrington.

oh and wickford and scituate too. i definately would not take out of towners to barrington for any reason except to get to points south. ;)

What about Westerly?

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What about Westerly?

oh yeah. westerly. In fact i could list only a few towns i wouldn't want to live in as any kind of first choice and barrington is one of them. Most RI towns have lots of redeeming qualities and little squares and "downtowns" that are quite cute and even functional.

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oh yeah. westerly. In fact i could list only a few towns i wouldn't want to live in as any kind of first choice and barrington is one of them. Most RI towns have lots of redeeming qualities and little squares and "downtowns" that are quite cute and even functional.

Ok, I have no idea how this thread became about Westerly, but I'm going to throw the little town some love. When I was looking for places to live with my sister (who is mildly developmentally disabled, doesn't drive, and needs vital services and a bus stop within walking distance) in RI, I hyper researched the towns and retail cores, and there frankly are few areas that have all of that and Barrington is one of them.

Bus stop: check

Walkable retail strip: check, with...

- Supermarket: check

- Pharmacy: check

- Cleaners: check

- Some dining (chinese, pizza, ice cream shop): check

Library: check

Primary care MD's: check

Parks/recreation: check

Is super safe: check

Is 15 minutes or less from Providence: check

I'll be the first to agree that Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, and Little Compton are certainly far more interesting and charming communities (I'm not sure Westerly is that much more interesting than Barrington :huh: ), but they don't have those full range of services within a walkable area and don't have the proximity to Providence.

It may be a bit dull, but it's one of RI's very few "complete" walkable retail cores.

- Garris

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