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Vallon

My thoughts on Providence's Future...

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Vallon    0

Just wanted to take a second to introduce myself. I don't know the demographic of most of the people that come here - but i'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they're older than me. I'm just a 23 year old "kid" from Providence, RI that's fascinated by architecture. Since I was a little, I was always fascinated by buildings - from the old factories of the Blackstone Valley... to the "skyscrapers" of Providence. I put skyscrapers in quotations for obvious reasons. The old Industrial Trust Building in Providence pales in comparison in majesty to the Empire State Building in New York - Something I realized when I got to see it close-up when I could afford to travel beyond sheltered "lil rhody".

I remember trips up to Boston as a child... thinking I had entered another planet... and that was really before the Big Dig... before the tunnels... before a lot of changes that have happened there in the last 10 to 15 years. The same thing is true with Providence. Providence fascinated me as a child... but it's blossomed quite a bit since those early days. I remember going to RIGHA on North Main Street and seeing this detailed model in a glass case of that building that it was located in. That model never ceased to amaze me, everytime we would go - I'd marvel at it. Then as I got older I discovered "Sim City" at a friend's house - and I don't think I stopped playing it for about two hours. I don't even think I noticed my friend was there after awhile. It was just me, and this world unleashed infront of me. The power to build... the power to create. Kids play with building blocks and Lincoln Logs... My main toy as a child was Lego's. I would draw maps of city blocks for fun as a kid - my friends thought I was nuts. They couldn't understand how a kid could be entertained by drawing for hours on graph paper and creating new worlds. I guess I always had a good imagination.

Which brings me to here... For awhile now i've been really into looking up architectural designs online - purely out of fascination and love for architecture. I've been lucky to travel quite a bit since I got out of high school... nothing too glamorous like Europe or anything... But i've been around New England... Providence - Boston - Worcester - Lowell - Manchester - Portsmouth - Hartford - New Haven... and i've seen some "real" cities too ;)... New York - Philadelphia - Washington DC - New Orleans. The more places i've gone, the more times I catch myself gawking at the sky and looking at buildings. I consider myself an aspiring musician right now above all else - but art has always fascinated me. I got into photography as a result of my love for music - but I find myself collecting pictures of buildings.. models.. diagrams... layouts of proposals. After 9/11... and the boom of proposals to rebuild the Ground Zero site... I really became intrigued by some of the designs I saw - and even played around with my own - but I never submitted anything - they were very primative drawings - just for my own imagination really.

So, since then i've playing around quite a bit with the old SimCity2000... and the Urban Renewal Kit for it. I found so many tilesets that people have created for cities like Paris, New York or even Boston. It made me want to create one for Providence - given that there is so many interesting buildings here. I found a rendering that someone had done of the Fleet Building (the newest one in the middle .. c. '83...) and so far i've done a rendering of the Westin. Just playing around... I wonder if it's worth it - or if I should just get SimCity 4. But nonetheless - playing around with that led me to learn names of buildings and to look things up online. Playing that game only served to make me more interested in architecture. So that's what led me to find this forum today - looking around on google. I was pleasantly surprised to find a place with a wealth of so much info on Providence and other New England cities (as well as cities from all over). Google searches don't always give you the info you're looking for... so it's nice to come here and have all the pics and info in one place.

One of the things I was looking up today was the whole "Power Block" development... The new Hilton, the new condo towers... the sale of the Westin. I even read in the Journal the other day about a tower going up on Westminster (I believe it was called One Ten Westminster... but I could be mistaken). All of this development really is intriguing for Providence. I know that ultimately, it's all fueled by greed - and there's probably a good deal of corruption involved in these projects... but when I look at drawings and layouts - the childlike wonder takes over. You're forced to look at things from a kid's perspective and just take it all in. You see these still drawings - and then the imagination takes over and takes you for a ride through this fantasy... this simple, yet fascinating idea.

Over the past 10 years or so, i've really grown proud to call Providence my home. I'm proud to say that I was born here - and to see how beautiful a city it's become. I've found old photos... and it's just amazing to see how far the city has come - and how it's evolved over the decades. Providence Place... Waterplace Park... The Westin... The Convention Center... The Fleet Skating Center... The revitalization of Kennedy Plaza. It's just amazing to see all these things that exist now - that didn't exist when I was a kid. As someone that's a lover of music, and the arts - it's saddened me to see clubs closing down and old music stores going out of business. But I realize that all of these things are just part of the cycle of life in a city. Lupo's on Westminster dies... and The Strand on Washington comes back like a phoenix - rising from the ashes. It's always hard seeing old places go that you have a fondness for - but you know that with a door closing, the opportunity to create something new is there. That's the urban cycle... that's what gives every generation it's chance to leave an indelible mark on the character of its city.

So it's exciting to hear about new proposals and new development taking place. I think that the 195 relocation project is going to help the city.. much in the way that the Big Dig has helped to free downtown Boston from it's waterfront. I think that the Jewelry District absolutely needs to be revitalized and reconnected to Downcity... but i'm curious as to why so much of Providence's development has come on the fringes - rather than in the heart of the city. I know it's easier to develop areas that are empty and unattractive. But Urban Renewal and Development in the heart of Downcity is necessary too. It seems as though all of these developers are concentrating their efforts on creating condo space and upscale apartments with retail areas - and creating hotels to accomodate Convention-goers. But what about the city growing upwards from Downcity? What about taking advantage of the grid of streets that make up Weybosset, Westminster and Washington... and building up there? That in my mind is the heart of Providence - yet it's a ghost town. I know the goal of the condos on Westminster is to put people back on the streets there... and I know that there are many charming buildings with great facades - But why can't they keep those facades intact or recreate them - but at the same time... expand upward and add to the Providence skyline? Why can't they add office space as well as residential areas?

It seems to me that the biggest pitch to Providence development right now is that it's a great place for Professionals to live ... that work in Boston. Wouldn't it make sense to draw Corporations to downcity Providence - so you not only had places for people to live and shop - but places for people to work as well? Instead of building corporate headquarters in neighboring communities around Providence that are largely residential - why doesn't Providence do everything it can to draw businesses to the city? I think the reason that businesses build in the suburbs is mainly because there's more room for development and expansion. Zoning laws are easier to accomodate a company's plans... it's less expensive then building in the city. So if Providence really wants to grow, and become more of a centric hub, like it's big brother, Boston... they need to be willing to part with some of the quaint old buildings in Downcity and allow developers to build up. Not just condo towers, and hotels... but offices. I realize that because of the advancements of transportation... the advent of Route 95 and 195... that the city's residents are working further and further away. But if you want a city to continue to thrive and to grow - you can't let all the jobs go out of town and turn Providence into a giant condo.

Providence isn't the port that it used to be... and it's not industrialized the way it used to be. But thankfully, it's a lot prettier to look at... and a lot healthier to live in. The key to Providence's growth is in not only making it an attractive place to live, but an attractive place to do business. I realize Boston will always have the upperhand.. as well as New York... At one time, Newport (and I imagine Providence) were both pretty sizable ports that gave New York a run for it's money. But the reality is that Providence is only as limited to growth as it allows itself to be. I don't think anyone in Providence wants the city to grow to the proportions of a New York or a Boston - but I do think that given it's location... and it's history - Providence can grow much more than it has to this point. This growth doesn't mean that Providence has to sacrifice it's charm - or it's history... it just needs architects and developers that can look at the city, and get a feel for it's style and it's identity. Certain architects it seems have grand ideas that in their minds seem amazing - but when they're created they do more harm than good... (for example I.M. Pei's "Cathedral Square" - cutting off Westminster Street from the West End). To Pei, artistically ... that seemed like a wonderful idea - but he had no idea how it would impact the lives of the people living and working here. That's why I think that if Providence is going to develop and grow - the cities' contracts should be awarded to the people that live and work here... the people that know the city. Design isn't just about making things pretty... it's about making things functional and solving problems... WHILE making things look pretty. I think that's something that people tend to forget.

I look at Providence's skyline... and in my mind, the most attractive building that defines it was built in the 1930's. I'm not sure what that says for the prosperity of Providence or the imagination of it's architects. Personally, i'm a fan of neo-classical design. I like art-deco... I like buildings that look like they've been there for years... I like buildings that are ornate, and that have charm. I like how orangey-red brick with ornate touches of slate gray and green have tied together so many buildings in Downcity and Capital Center. Look at Providence Place... and how well it ties in with the Westin. It almost looks like they're one building. You look at the Old Union Station that's been there for years...and the Marriott - and they all have this feeling like they belong there. Now i'm not suggesting that every building in Providence be red brick - but I think those buildings compliment each other nicely. I think it gives the city a character - the same way that buildings in European cities seem to go together. I know that inevitably there are going to be glass towers in Providence, and ultra modern designs - but for whatever reason - I think that new buildings in Providence should take into account the environment they're growing in... the same way you would be mindful of new plantings in a garden - You don't want something too gaudy that doesn't compliment it's surroundings. That being said, i'm not particularly fond of the G-Tech designs I saw. I think it takes away from the view at Waterplace looking at that seemless interjection of the Westin, Skybridge and Providence Place... Those buildings seem to wrap around Waterplace like a curtain... and the G-Tech design doesn't seem to fit in with the character of that setting. I can't really picture waterfire and gondola rides w/ this big neon/glass building towering above. But maybe that's just me...

I think Providence has come a long way - but I think things like the 3 Cities project, and this "Power Block" project can help Providence grow. I just wish that those in control of it's direction would reexamine how to make Providence grow. I think that the strength of the city is in it's people - and that they should have more of a say in the cities growth and development than just greedy investors. Providence is a great city... and it deserves and needs to grow beyond the comfortable boundaries that people have set for it. Like all great cities, it has to reinvent it's identity and push the limits of what it's capable of being and doing. Providence is more than just a side-kick to Boston. It's more than just a runner-up... Providence represents the people of Southern New England... it represents Rhode Island. If the people of Rhode Island finally realize that their not inferior to the might of cities like Boston and New York - then real growth and ingenuity can take place. It's that spirit which allowed those cities to become as successful and big as they are - and it's that spirit that will raise Providence to new heights... if the people let it.

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monsoon    0

Welcome to the forum Vallon! I am glad you found our little community of "urbanphiles" and your demographic is right on the mark. :lol: While I am not from Providence you will find lots of support for it here. Thanks for joining.

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KRC    0

I think Providence has come a long way - but I think things like the 3 Cities project, and this "Power Block" project can help Providence grow. I just wish that those in control of it's direction would reexamine how to make Providence grow. I think that the strength of the city is in it's people - and that they should have more of a say in the cities growth and development than just greedy investors. Providence is a great city... and it deserves and needs to grow beyond the comfortable boundaries that people have set for it. Like all great cities, it has to reinvent it's identity and push the limits of what it's capable of being and doing. Providence is more than just a side-kick to Boston. It's more than just a runner-up... Providence represents the people of Southern New England... it represents Rhode Island. If the people of Rhode Island finally realize that their not inferior to the might of cities like Boston and New York - then real growth and ingenuity can take place. It's that spirit which allowed those cities to become as successful and big as they are - and it's that spirit that will raise Providence to new heights... if the people let it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hi There!

I, too, am new to the site. I read your introduction and think you make a few great points there. I just wanted to give you a perspective from a transplant's point of view on Providence. I know the city is considered second tier. You are right, Providence does not compare on many levels to Boston or New York. However, I don't think Rhode Islanders have an identity crisis of any kind. I moved to Rhode Island because of forces beyond my control. I fell in love with the city and state...both just breathtakingly beautiful. Then, I met Mr. Right. A Rhode Island Portugese boy with deep routes (which, as it turns out, appears to be the norm in RI).

Coming from NJ, having lived in Massachusetts, Philadelphia and Costa Rica for a few years, I can tell you that the transformation of Providence is not a surprise to me. It was only a matter of time before it happened. There is something oddly magical about this place and it's people. I may have been to and lived in many places in my life, but I have married a Rhode Islander and I can tell you that I completely understand that I will probably live here for the rest of my life (save our winter/retirement place in Florida, of course). That says a lot about this state and its people.

Don't fret the skyline so much. Ours may be small, but it's beautiful, detailed and impossing in its setting. Now, I don't want to mention any names (Paris, France), but word on the street is that there is a city or two out there that have absolutely no skyline or signture sky pierceing buildings yet are nonetheless considered to be a worldclass urban location. Things are happening here that show Providence is entering a new phase of construction and development. Not everything will be built, but a lot will and will only add to the city.

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Cotuit    0

Welcome Vallon, quite the first post there! I have lots of points I'd like to dicuss with you, as I'm sure others will. I'll respond more when I have time to fully absorb your post and make a worthy response later this evening.

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Nyuszi    0

I, too, am new to the site. I read your introduction and think you make a few great points there. I just wanted to give you a perspective from a transplant's point of view on Providence. I know the city is considered second tier. You are right, Providence does not compare on many levels to Boston or New York. However, I don't think Rhode Islanders have an identity crisis of any kind. I moved to Rhode Island because of forces beyond my control. I fell in love with the city and state...both just breathtakingly beautiful. Then, I met Mr. Right. A Rhode Island Portugese boy with deep routes (which, as it turns out, appears to be the norm in RI).

Wow, so much to think about, so I'll just grasp on to this nugget because I have pretty strong feelings about it..

I'm a recent transplant to Providence (about 13 months here). I grew up in NH, went to school in the Pioneer Valley in W MA, moved to Boston, Budapest, then here. I still have mixed feelings about Providence (Budapest is my great city love and if any city ever compares or surpasses it, I'll be shocked and immidiately buy a house there!) but one thing I noticed is that Providence has little or no inferiority complex. Boston, on the other hand, quite often betrays its feelings of being pretender to the throne of New York (and let me be clear here that I'm not a NY-aphile, I love Boston for what it is as Boston). Providence, for the most part, seems to know who it is and is quite satisfied with that - always striving to improve, but not to be a city that it isn't.

Your answer, I think, touches on a main reason for that. So many people here have at least a generation or two in the area and, while it can sometimes manifest as frustrating provinciality, I think the deep, strong ties are what make people happy with Providence.

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Vallon    0

Hi There!

Hey yourself - thanx for commenting. I'm glad you were drawn to Providence and that you enjoy it here. :)

Don't fret the skyline so much.  Ours may be small, but it's beautiful, detailed and impossing in its setting.  Now, I don't want to mention any names (Paris, France), but word on the street is that there is a city or two out there that have absolutely no skyline or signture sky pierceing buildings yet are nonetheless considered to be a worldclass urban location.  Things are happening here that show Providence is entering a new phase of construction and development.  Not everything will be built, but a lot will and will only add to the city.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You make a good point... about Paris - but I think it's hard to compare a city like Paris with so much history going back to medieval times with a city like Providence. Providence has had 400 years or so of history - but most of it's growth has come in the past 150 years. The reason that Paris doesn't have a defining skyline of modern skyscrapers is because Paris's identity extends much further back than 2 centuries. Paris has great buildings... Great cathedrals like Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and Sainte Chappelle - Great palaces and historical monuments like The Louvre, Les Invalides, Arc de Triomphe, Pantheon, La Madeleine...even Le Sorbonne. You have examples of modern architectures in the Centres George Pompidou and the Grand Arc la Defense. Paris has it's buildings... and it's identity - but the city is sprawled out. When they want to build up they're not worrying about razing a century year old building... but buildings that have been there for almost a millenia. For many people - The Eiffel Tower IS Paris. Granted that was only built in 1883 - but it's stood there unchallenged, and unparalleled in it's beauty. So a skyline doesn't have to have scores of buildings to be impressive - it just has to have character. If you built Taipei 101 next to the Eiffel Tower... that wouldn't really fit. Taipei 101 is meant to reflect Taipei... not Paris. So I think that's what I was trying to get at with keeping the character of Providence. You can create new buildings, and spruce up this garden of buildings - but you don't want to put something up that's going to stand out like a sore thumb. Buildings that compliment each other tend to enhance the beauty of the city.

I'm not suggesting that Providence stick with only one type of architecture - but rather that new developments be mindful of their environment. The same way you consider how a new building is going to affect traffic, and the economy of surrounding businesses - you should also consider the aesthetic balance of the city as a whole.

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Cotuit    0

I'm not suggesting that Providence stick with only one type of architecture - but rather that new developments be mindful of their environment. The same way you consider how a new building is going to affect traffic, and the economy of surrounding businesses - you should also consider the aesthetic balance of the city as a whole.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Providence has a rich and varied architectural heritage and I believe that developers and architects respect that. In fact I would imagine that there are architects out there who are eager to leave their mark here so that they can become part of our city's architectural tapestry. No architect wants to be known as the one who ruined Providence, they'll leave that honour to I.M. Pei.

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Your answer, I think, touches on a main reason for that.  So many people here have at least a generation or two in the area and, while it can sometimes manifest as frustrating provinciality, I think the deep, strong ties are what make people happy with Providence.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Im new here too, and I have to say I was surprised to find that most of the folks in the forum are not natives. I always had this misguided notion of the people who are really interested in the city all being townies.

While Im at it - Let me introduce myself - I'm 30 years old, I work at APC doing tech stuff, and I live in the Armory with my wife and 2 kids. I don't have any formal backround in architecture or development, but I am fascinated by it. Since we bought our house in 2000 my interest in old houses, local history, and new development has grown immensely. I love seeing our city (and the West End in particular) bloom.

http://www.grayfamilia.com

Liam

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Vallon    0

Welcome Vallon, quite the first post there! I have lots of points I'd like to dicuss with you, as I'm sure others will. I'll respond more when I have time to fully absorb your post and make a worthy response later this evening.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanx to monsoon and cotuit for the warm welcome...

I look forward to hearing from both of you in the future.

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Garris    0

Hey Vallon!

Welcome to the board. Epic first post there, and I'll take some of your interesting points (and some of the responses) in turn (2-3 part response!):

Vallon:

I put skyscrapers in quotations for obvious reasons. The old Industrial Trust Building in Providence pales in comparison in majesty to the Empire State Building in New York..."

Well, I think everything is relative. KRC said yesterday quote correctly that...

KRC:

Don't fret the skyline so much. Ours may be small, but it's beautiful, detailed and impossing in its setting.

That's completely true. You don't need towering buildings to have an impressive skyline. Is San Franscisco impressive because of its building heights? No, it's impressive because of the setting. Providence's skyline is indeed quite dense and imposing, and its location on the water and right next to hills (which provide very unique views of the city that few other municipalities have) is infinitely interesting. I'd wager that Providence's cityscape is more photographed by professionals and more filmed (and more recognizable to most) than, for example, "taller" skylines like Baltimore, Philadelphia, or St. Paul. A quick web search on google for each city backs this up.

Vallon:

Google searches don't always give you the info you're looking for... so it's nice to come here and have all the pics and info in one place.

I recall Cotuit is talking with Neo about trying to raise the profile of Urbanplanet posts and info on Google. Considering the number of hits certain topics get, I don't see why this site's profile isn't indeed higher...

Vallon:

I know that ultimately, it's all fueled by greed - and there's probably a good deal of corruption involved in these projects... but when I look at drawings and layouts - the childlike wonder takes over.

I feel the childlike wonder as well.

Is there some corruption in these projects? Perhaps some, but my gut feeling is that there's likely far more "insiderism" and less outright corruption than in the past. I mean, hey, once you get to this level of wealth and these size developers, they probably know each other (and all the government movers and shakers) intimately and have each other on speed dial. This happens at high levels in all professions. But is there the old Buddy style wheeling and dealing and money greasing palms? Call it a naieve gut feeling, but I don't think so... Not today...

About the greed fueling everything... Well, my feeling (and a basic principle of some social psychology and evolutionary theory) is that "self interest" fuels everything and that there really isn't such a thing as pure altruism... Even "altruistic" people do things because it feels good for them or satisfies some self-interest or need.

Vallon:

Over the past 10 years or so, i've really grown proud to call Providence my home. I'm proud to say that I was born here - and to see how beautiful a city it's become. I've found old photos... and it's just amazing to see how far the city has come - and how it's evolved over the decades. Providence Place... Waterplace Park... The Westin... The Convention Center... The Fleet Skating Center... The revitalization of Kennedy Plaza. It's just amazing to see all these things that exist now - that didn't exist when I was a kid.

Very nice sentiment. Thanks for sharing that...

Vallon:

As someone that's a lover of music, and the arts - it's saddened me to see clubs closing down and old music stores going out of business.

Interestingly, while they are closing, ones open elsewhere and a revialized Providence floats the boat for the entire area. Witness the slow improvements in Pawtucket.

Vallon:

So it's exciting to hear about new proposals and new development taking place. I think that the 195 relocation project is going to help the city.. much in the way that the Big Dig has helped to free downtown Boston from it's waterfront. I think that the Jewelry District absolutely needs to be revitalized and reconnected to Downcity... but i'm curious as to why so much of Providence's development has come on the fringes - rather than in the heart of the city. I know it's easier to develop areas that are empty and unattractive. But Urban Renewal and Development in the heart of Downcity is necessary too. It seems as though all of these developers are concentrating their efforts on creating condo space and upscale apartments with retail areas - and creating hotels to accomodate Convention-goers. But what about the city growing upwards from Downcity? What about taking advantage of the grid of streets that make up Weybosset, Westminster and Washington... and building up there? That in my mind is the heart of Providence - yet it's a ghost town. I know the goal of the condos on Westminster is to put people back on the streets there... and I know that there are many charming buildings with great facades - But why can't they keep those facades intact or recreate them - but at the same time... expand upward and add to the Providence skyline? Why can't they add office space as well as residential areas?

I have to disagree with you here. I think that what you think isn't happening (growth radiating out from Downcity) is exactly what is indeed taking place. Would developers have confidence to build a 32 story residental tower (which is, as you wish, keeping the fascade of the current historic building) next to the Arcade if the other Downcity developments weren't taking place? What about Tazza, Hotel Providence, the new 7-11, RISD expansion on Waybosset, the Cosmopolitan, Gracie's relocaton, and on and on. Would anyone even care about reconnecting the Jewelry District to Downcity unless they felt it was a downtown worth connecting to? Would someone want to add a residential tower to a Hilton that would overlook a slum? I don't think so. I'd wager that without Downcity's ongoing (I'll agree its not done yet) rebirth, nothing else would be happening either.

End part 1....

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Cotuit    0

I'm not sure why your QUOTE tags aren't working, they look right, there just may be too many of them, good post though. :thumbsup:

EDIT: I know what's wrong, in order to have the poster, date, and time of your quotes, you need to close it with the proper tag for that post

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Garris    0

Part II

Vallon:

Instead of building corporate headquarters in neighboring communities around Providence that are largely residential - why doesn't Providence do everything it can to draw businesses to the city?

They've quietly been working on just this kind of thing. However, Providence city leader also wisely know that they don't want to get into a fight with other RI municipalities over companies already located there. It becomes a nasty, expensive battle that just creates hard feelings and makes it hard to develop a regional plan for growth. RI (and its tax base) are small enough without intramural battles whitting the tax base down.

Vallon:

So if Providence really wants to grow, and become more of a centric hub, like it's big brother, Boston... they need to be willing to part with some of the quaint old buildings in Downcity and allow developers to build up. Not just condo towers, and hotels... but offices.

I again have to disagree. There's actually still a glut of office space in Providence right now. I mean, for example, the whole large AmEx building (which is quite suburban in style, actually) is totally empty. It's actually more attractive for a company to move into cheaper, existing space than to knock down, oh, a historic building and build a new tower from scratch. It's actually (in my mind) better and cheaper for that company to use the existing tax credits to redo that historic building and move in.

I don't think we need a race for tall buildings. Look at, for example, Houston, Texas. There is a city that has been racing to build everything as tall as possible for years. While Houston's skyline may look great as a relief against a sunset, it is an ugly, dirty, crass city (in my opinion, others may disagree) that has absolutely no character is a vacant after the workday is over. No one lives in downtown Houston (nor would want to). I'd rather have our Providence, thank you...

Vallon:

I realize that because of the advancements of transportation... the advent of Route 95 and 195... that the city's residents are working further and further away. But if you want a city to continue to thrive and to grow - you can't let all the jobs go out of town and turn Providence into a giant condo.

I understand the sentiment, but again disagree. Companies these days move to cities because they are understanding that's where their employees want to live, not just work. Cities with downtown and economic renewals like New Haven, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and even Manhattan had those revivals happen not because businesses moved there and people followed, but because they became more desirable places to live, people moved there, and the businesses followed.

Vallon:

I look at Providence's skyline... and in my mind, the most attractive building that defines it was built in the 1930's.

I agree and disagree. While the Bank America building is attractive, I think it's the overall shape and diversity of the skyline which gives it vitality. Detoit, Michigan is filled with old, 1930's art-deco buildings (because almost nothing, save the GM Center, has been built since). In my opinion, with a 2005 mindset, while all of those Detroit buildings are individually quite interesting, as a skyline, it's a pretty bleak site that just screams "glory past."

Vallon:

Personally, i'm a fan of neo-classical design. I like art-deco... I like buildings that look like they've been there for years... I like buildings that are ornate, and that have charm. [snip] but for whatever reason - I think that new buildings in Providence should take into account the environment they're growing in...

I've written extensively on this. See my post in the "Arcade Tower" section: http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.ph...pic=9032&st=15#. I actually think most of the new proposals are respectful of the surrounding city, if not imitative, as I mention in my post above.

Vallon: 

That being said, i'm not particularly fond of the G-Tech designs I saw. I think it takes away from the view at Waterplace looking at that seemless interjection of the Westin, Skybridge and Providence Place... Those buildings seem to wrap around Waterplace like a curtain... and the G-Tech design doesn't seem to fit in with the character of that setting. I can't really picture waterfire and gondola rides w/ this big neon/glass building towering above. But maybe that's just me...

I agree with you here. I'll reserve final judgement until it's built, but I think the G-Tech building is flawed in many of the ways you outline.

Vallon:

I think that the strength of the city is in it's people - and that they should have more of a say in the cities growth and development than just greedy investors. Providence is a great city...

To be honest with you, I think people in Providence (and most NE cities) have a tremendous say in what happens development wise compared to the rest of the nation. Actually, I think it probably hampers growth to an extent. Trust me, I've lived in parts of the country experiencing hot growth (Phoenix/Scottsdale, the Midwest) and there, you often don't know a project is happening until you drive by one day and, oh, look at that, there's a foundation! No article in the paper, no community review, no nothing. And, often, the town is so addicated to the rapid growth at that point that the government just wants as many projects done as quickly as possible. You don't want that Staples/Target plaza build on that ballfield? Oops, too late, they've already started. Variances already given. No architectural reviews, no environmental impact studies, no community meetings and discussions. Most people in the SW and Midwest just think that the NE is a bunch of NIMBY's and would never invest there. I've talked to developers in the midwest who would say to me, "Oh, your from New York? I'd never build there. I like to see my projects done before I hit Social Security age."

Liamlunchtray:

Im new here too, and I have to say I was surprised to find that most of the folks in the forum are not natives.

I think many like myself have moved here because of the attention such urban issues get here in Providence compared to where we came from.

Liam, when you say you work at APC, what do you mean? The APC I know is the Ambulatory Patient Care Center at Rhode Island Hospital :-). I, too, am 30.

Nyuszi:

I noticed is that Providence has little or no inferiority complex. Boston, on the other hand, quite often betrays its feelings of being pretender to the throne of New York (and let me be clear here that I'm not a NY-aphile, I love Boston for what it is as Boston). Providence, for the most part, seems to know who it is and is quite satisfied with that - always striving to improve, but not to be a city that it isn't.

I agree 100%. I moved here thinking Providence-folk would have this huge inferiority complex, but it isn't true at all. It's quite impressive, actually. Boston friends of mine, however, seem incredibly insecure, always whining and trying to convince themselves about how great Boston is (my opinion is that Boston is a top-draw second tier city, like Minneapolis/St. Paul or Portland... 1st level is NYC, Chicago, San Fran, Vancouver, etc...) To be honest, save for a better orchestra and truly outstanding Sushi and Dim-Sum restaurants, I think Providence lacks for nothing. There is rarely a time I feel I need to go anywhere for great food or top-draw entertainment.

Whew!

- Garris

Edit: Thanks to Cotuit for helping to fix the message! The problem, Cotuit, was that the message was too long :D

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Cotuit    0

The problem, Cotuit, was that the message was too long  :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yes, there is a character limit, congrats on exceding it! :)

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Liam, when you say you work at APC, what do you mean?  The APC I know is the Ambulatory Patient Care Center at Rhode Island Hospital :-).  I, too, am 30.

- Garris

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Doh! I forget that not everyone knows what APC is. Its American Power Conversion, which is one of the only big tech companies in RI (Gesides Gtech of course) We make things like UPS', surge protectors, and Datacenter Infrastructure equipment. http://www.apc.com

Liam

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Loughlin    0

I did the same thing on graph paper, even now when im bored ill draw buildings and design squares, i must have over 1000 pages of drawing, i completely redesigned Portsmouth, which is my dream city, i have drawn baseball stadiums and towers to docks and airports, it was always a fun way to express my visions, people would laugh when i was a child and id say Portsmouth will be bigger than Boston one day, today i can see why, but i can still have my dreams. :D

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Soren    0

I'm one of those lurkers who is finally coming out of the woodwork, so hello everyone.

My wife and I re-located from Boston to the East Side four years ago after seeing the Boston housing market outpace our income for eight frustrating years. After two years of commuting to Boston we started our own company here in Providence.

Fast-forward to now. The company has grown and we're now one of those business owners evaluating whether to grow the company here in Providence or to re-locate to NYC or Boston. I realize that everyone here will have myriad reasons why Providence is the clear answer. As a business owner facing real decisions on on the pros and cons of each city, I can tell you it is not.

In January we got out of town for a while to try to get some perspective while we made a decision. We had all but decided to leave Providence, when suddenly the flurry of February announcements made it clear that so much of what we thought of as the eventual revitalization of Downcity was not so eventual after all.

I'll add that my undergrad degree (long ago, as I'm 42 now) is in Urban Planning and I'm a strong supporter of new urbanism ideals, so you can see my natural attraction to what is happening in Providence right now.

Here's a question: All of the urban re-development I've seen (mostly the Cornish Associates projects) are all 1st floor retail and upper floor residential. Does anyone know of any Downcity buildings, or projects on the boards, that include both residential condos and leased office space in the same building?

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Cotuit    0

I'm one of those lurkers who is finally coming out of the woodwork, so hello everyone.

My wife and I re-located from Boston to the East Side four years ago after seeing the Boston housing market outpace our income for eight frustrating years. After two years of commuting to Boston we started our own company here in Providence.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Welcome Soren.

Your re-location track of commuting and then working (or starting your own company here) is exactly what I think is going to help Providence in the future. People will move here for the cost, then realize that Providence is worth being more than their bedroom.

I realize that everyone here will have myriad reasons why Providence is the clear answer.  As a business owner facing real decisions on on the pros and cons of each city, I can tell you it is not.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have no doubt that is true, and that is one of Providence and Rhode Island as a whole's biggest issues to tackle.

Here's a question: All of the urban re-development I've seen (mostly the Cornish Associates projects) are all 1st floor retail and upper floor residential.  Does anyone know of any Downcity buildings, or projects on the boards, that include both residential condos and leased office space in the same building?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

What I've heard of the plan for the second tower at the Westin is that it could include, hotel rooms, condos, ground floor retail, and perhaps some office space. Phase 2 of the Waterplace project may also include office space. But that will not be decided, and phase 2 will not be started until the office market demands it.

GTECH also will include 2 floors of rentable office space, no condos of course.

I think businesses will eventually follow the brain drain down from Boston (and from other parts of the region and the country), but the city needs to be sure it has a friendly climate for these businesses.

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Vallon    0

I did the same thing on graph paper, even now when im bored ill draw buildings and design squares, i must have over 1000 pages of drawing, i completely redesigned Portsmouth, which is my dream city, i have drawn baseball stadiums and towers to docks and airports, it was always a fun way to express my visions, people would laugh when i was a child and id say Portsmouth will be bigger than Boston one day, today i can see why, but i can still have my dreams. :D

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's awesome! :) I love Portsmouth! My sister lived there for quite some time during the late 80's, and early 90's... and I'd visit her up there every summer. Downtown Portsmouth is really nice... Strawberry Banke and Prescott Park. The Piscataqua bridges... the Naval Yard. But we need to do something about that damn traffic circle ;). The seacoast in New Hampshire is a beautiful area...

If you have any of your drawings scanned... I've love to have a look. Kids laugh when you're fascinated by things like that as a kid - but then when your ideas become reality - in part or whole, it's not so humorous anymore. I think being imaginative and creative is a gift. If there weren't any imaginitive people out there - what would all those kids that laughed at you be doing while you're drawing? If there weren't creative people out there...there wouldn't be any video games for them to play while we're dreaming up stuff!

So yeah - scan some of those drawings up. :)

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Cotuit    0

Oh and p.s. - where's that long reply cotuit? I thought you were gonna get back to me  ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

It's quite a daunting task! :lol: Garris seems to be doing a good job. I don't know where to start.

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Cotuit    0

Just looking forward to your replies because you seem to be one of if not the most ardent participants here.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I just have the most free time. :lol:

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Soren    0

What I've heard of the plan for the second tower at the Westin is that it could include, hotel rooms, condos, ground floor retail, and perhaps some office space. Phase 2 of the Waterplace project may also include office space. But that will not be decided, and phase 2 will not be started until the office market demands it.

GTECH also will include 2 floors of rentable office space, no condos of course.

I think businesses will eventually follow the brain drain down from Boston (and from other parts of the region and the country), but the city needs to be sure it has a friendly climate for these businesses.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Thanks Cotuit, that was pretty much my take on mixed office/residential in Downcity as well.

I have no doubt that Providence will attract businesses from Boston the same way it has attracted commuters, and largely for the same reason: A strong, liveable urban setting at half the price.

But the juicy businesses that really boost the tax base and spread the wealth, including biotech, software, and high-end services that serve a national, not local, audience (to bring new money in, as opposed to spreading existing money around) are still going to think twice about many issues. These include the size of the skilled labor pool, networking and capital access, the financial condition of the city and state, and (realistic or not) corruption. The state biotech initiative is good, but the payoff is *way* down the road.

I realize I sound like a nay-sayer, and I'm not. Providence has so much going for it right now, and the future is very, very bright, imho.

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AriPVD    0

I don't know the validity of this "idea" but I have always thought that the CVS corporation would be well-served by relocating their corporate offices to Downcity. CVS is the largest employer in Rhode Island and is probably Rhode Island's (if not New England's) best known name-brand. Woonsocket would obviously fight it to the death, but I have always found it to be a strange place for such a large and important corporate headquarters. CVS has been big in the acquisition business lately and they've grown quite rapidly. I think a Downcity CVS tower would not be out of the question--great for raising visibility and enjoying the amenities of Providence. Don't forget, in the early days of skyscrapers, most were built for advertising/promotional purposes, NOT because they were profitable investments.

Also, as a sidenote, the CEO lives in Barrington. Much closer to Providence than Woonsocket.

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