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CtownMikey

How far, how high, how big

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I'm still fairly new to Urban Planet. I actually joined around the week in february when all of the Providence projects were announced. So way too much was going on :P . I'm just wondering how much potential everyone thinks Providence actually has. (To grow larger in population, how high the high-rises may be built, how many business do you think may move to Prov. if any..etc.) You guys and gals obviously know what you're talking about so I'd like to hear what you all have to say cuz im just a teenager :) and have no idea what the answer to my question would be. All I know is that things like this excite me!! Thanks :D

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Well, this is a really complex question... My feeling is that there are "macro" forces and "local" forces...

Macro forces would include, of course, the national economy. I consider small cities like Providence to be the canaries in the mines. If the economy tanks, it takes the city with it to a certain degree.

Another macro force would be, whether we like it or not, our city's increasing dependence on Boston and Mass workers/residents means that when Boston's economy sneezes, Providence has the potential to really catch cold.

If things stay good nationally, and Boston stays white hot with its scorching real estate market, Providence will do OK.

Local factors would include how well all of the proposed development does. If Chase can't fill his lofts, and Tazza and Hotel Providence can't make a go of it, we're in trouble. If the Masonic temple's hotel rooms sit empty, the G-Tech building chases Waterfire goers away, and they're giving away rooms at Parcel 2, look out...

Thankfully, I think all of these things (with a speed bump and hiccup here and there) will go just fine...

Realistically in the future, say, 10 years, I expect Downcity will be a viable and desirable residential community. I expect that Providence's overall population will go up between 5-10%. I don't think that the entire Power Block will happen. I expect that Federal Hill's stock will go up dramatically and that the 2-3 developments slated there for it will set off a wave of Federal Hill activity. In many ways, it is already Providence's most fully realized "neighborhood," has the most potential, and has been lagging in activity. I think the West End/Armory will still be a work in progress. I hope that the Warwick Transit link will be at least under construction by then. I think that as development continues apace, infrastructure issues will start to come to the forefront. Providence's roads are terrible, our bridges ancient, our power grid old, the schools undesirable, and our hospitals are short of beds but too financially troubled to build more (and how can Roger Williams Hosp, Miriam, and Memorial expand when they are in the middle of dense NIMBY neighborhoods?). I have the belief that in 10 years, there'll be a lot of debate about what to do with the 195 land... I expect that substantial commerical/residential development will be somewhat saturated by then, and that it'll be the universities and non-profits that'll have the best plans for the land, which will rankle some chains. That land will be Brown's last, best chance for a large scale expansion, and I bet they know it.

That's my guess. Any other thoughts?

- Garris

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Another macro force would be, whether we like it or not, our city's increasing dependence on Boston and Mass workers/residents means that when Boston's economy sneezes, Providence has the potential to really catch cold.

If things stay good nationally, and Boston stays white hot with its scorching real estate market, Providence will do OK. 

- Garris

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I wouldn't go that far on pinning Providence's hopes on Boston's success. A good example would be the economic melt down after the current White House resident moved in. Massachusetts and Connecticut lost quite a few jobs, Rhode Island continued a slow and steady growth rate. Indeed, a few years we were the posterboy of economic stability.

Now, I'm not saying that we are not depended on Boston. We are, just as much as New England (excpet CT perhaps) is all one area dependent on each other. I just don't think Providence's fortunes rise and fall with Boston as much as people think. A good example is Bank of America's decision to locate some jobs here. Boston's economy could completely collapse and those jobs would remain here becuase they serve a national market. Boston had little to do with that. Citizens has some big plans for Rhode Island. Where's Boston in that formula?

I don't think Providence will ever shoot up the economic ladder like Boston, but slow and stead wins the reace and it appears Rhode Island has got that formula down cold.

Providence's real potential? Limitless. Why? Because Providence knows what it is, knows what it isn't, knows what it wants to be, and knows how it wants to get there. Add it a dash of local pride and I think that's an unstoppable measure. We are hardly Boston's little brother. Hey, if Boston refugees want to join the party and if a few companies think the pasture is a little greener here, GREAT!

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I have the belief that in 10 years, there'll be a lot of debate about what to do with the 195 land...  I expect that substantial commerical/residential development will be somewhat saturated by then, and that it'll be the universities and non-profits that'll have the best plans for the land, which will rankle some chains.  That land will be Brown's last, best chance for a large scale expansion, and I bet they know it. 

- Garris

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Amen, brother! I think you are right on there.

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There are some very intresting points being put out there, and for the most part, the local community needs to be on par with local officials. A job market is one huge variable, the service industry makes a very large percentage of our work force. Large companies need to be lured into our state and with place like Quansit point, it is a possibility. Providence does indeed need to have a small rail link with the sister citites, warwick and maybe even pawtucket. Getting more companies in providence (easyer said then done) is the only sure fire way to keep our own idenity from boston. There has to be tax breaks (considerable one's) for corparations that whould have x amount of employees. Buff chace has the right idea when he says "work, live, and play in the village".

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Excellent responses thus far. One determinant in our growth is the pace of development. It cant be done too fast & for the most part we havent had any problems with that. We dont have the luxury of being able to develop at the pace of the modern cities Atlanta, Houston & Phoenix for two key reasons. The first is that we dont have the infrstructure to support extremley rapid development such as DOT projects and whatnot. The second is the maintenance of the city's charm, which is our primary asset. That said, I think the current & expected growth is satisfying these above points. In terms of population, I think a 10-15 percent growth estimate by garris is modest and fair. However, we may be surprised at the census data 5 years from now. Since the 2000 census, a rough estimate of population gain is between 5500-7000. With the recent developments, I think we may be looking at a defacto gain of about 12-15% by 2010. However, I think the census in 2005 will be more aggresive than the 2000(which was done fairly well) & this may put us at or around 185,000. BTW, we are doing a census this year, right?

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We dont have  the luxury of being able to develop at the pace of the modern cities Atlanta, Houston & Phoenix for two key reasons. 

Trust me, we don't want that "luxury." As I've mentioned in other topic threads, I've lived in areas with rapid growth like that and while it can be exciting (imagine a month like our past month of announcements happening every month for years straight!) it also often leads to development that isn't respectful of the environment, architecture, or an area's history. Look at somewhere like Scottsdale, Az. While it is all new and shiny and exciting now, in 20-30 years it's going to look like an exploitive row of tired and cheesy strip plazas, malls, and lowest-common denominator sprawl.

We're better off for our strong neighborhood groups, government reviews, environmental reviews, etc...

this may put us at or around 185,000.  BTW, we are doing a census this year, right?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hummm... I'm not sure... Does anyone know? I'd love to see Providence go over the magic 200,000 mark... People think of cities differently at that point.

What is the Providence metro's population, including surrounding municipalities like Warwick, Cranston, E. Prov, Seakonk, N. Prov, etc.?

- Garris

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What is the Providence metro's population, including surrounding municipalities like Warwick, Cranston, E. Prov, Seakonk, N. Prov, etc.?

- Garris

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I believe it's over 1.6 million. It's all of Rhode Island plus Bristol County, Massachusetts.

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We're better off for our strong neighborhood groups, government reviews, environmental reviews, etc...

Hummm... I'm not sure... Does anyone know? I'd love to see Providence go over the magic 200,000 mark... People think of cities differently at that point.

- Garris

Check out this site for comparing Providence's population and that of other cities.

http://www.census.gov/population/www/docum...n/twps0027.html

Interestingly, Providence's population peaked in 1940 with a population over 250,000 (37th in US). Then it started a period of dramatic Detroit-like decline that went on till 1980 when it sank to about 150,000 (100th in US). The indignity: Worcester even surpassed Providence as New England's second biggest city!

The magnet of suburbia and the loss of Providence's industrial base were real and powerful. The depressing sight of vacant department stores downtown contrasted with the (equally depressing) vitality of the Malls.

Now that Providence's popluation has started growing again, roughly matching its size in 1970 of about 175,000 as of 2000, its growth has been largely due to immigration rather than to suburbanites flocking back to the city or even to the educated and aesthetically-minded "creative class" rediscovering the city. The influx of the last group probably represents a statistical blip in Providence's demographic profile but has a disproportionate and positive effect on the city's quality of life.

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I think that Providence has a lot of potential outside of immigration for growth into the next decade. I know that my generation (those currently in college or recent college graduates) primarily was a generation that grew up in the suburbs, and therefore will want to see what city life offers. On top of this, many of us are sick and bored of the suburbs and can finally see how they have damaged urban life, the environment and most importantly social conditions around the country. Hopefully the next few decades will bring about a rebirth of cities in the northeast that had been in decline since the 1950's--it's already happening in Providence.

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"I wouldn't go that far on pinning Providence's hopes on Boston's success. A good example would be the economic melt down after the current White House resident moved in. Massachusetts and Connecticut lost quite a few jobs, Rhode Island continued a slow and steady growth rate. Indeed, a few years we were the posterboy of economic stability."

the economic meltdown after the current white house resident's term had started was actually started during the term of the former white house resident. signs of the recession were seen as early as 1999. his term really did not start till 2001. not that it was the only factor, but, the former admin let the dot-com bubble inflate so much that it burst... the economics of that industry, at that time, weren't practical and they did not plan accordingly, they just took credit for its success and now are blaming others for the fallout... i feel like im back in macro-economics class!

as far as rhode island is concerned... what are its core competencies? healthcare, tourism, service related fields, banking and insurance, light manufacturing, fishing, colleges/univeristies, and real estate (if you would call this one...)

every single on of those industries saw exapnsion in RI in the last 5 years, with the exception of light manufacturing. i think that one just took existing companies and moved them around like they were in a giant salad tosser

bold expansion into these fields are what is needed in order to compete with other areas of this region and the country. we need to separate ourselves more from the pack of new england medium sized cities and show what we are made of on larger scale. think of this like how an employee would want to rise above his co workers and be promoted...

vehement criticizm, without positive solutions to offer, stall growth plans. like it or not, its all about perception. if the opinion of a very few is the only opinion being voiced or heard as legitimate, then they are seen as the majority or the difference makers. after being a part of this forum for the past couple months, i know that the majority want growth and variety in design.

who would agree that in order for large scale growth to occur, public transportation needs to be invested in heavily? if people cant get here or cant get around while there here, why would they stay and work here? access is key in the fast-paced world around us.

gtg back to work, peace

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I would absolutely agree that public transportation needs to be heavily invested in in order for this area to grow, and grow in a way that is suitable to economic expansion. Public transportation can actually bring density (in the same way that highways contributed to sprawl) and therefore support economic development throughout Providence. A healthy city is a dense, well connected city that is multi-modal and offers its residents options when it comes to transportation modes. This all ties into the city's economy in the end, for businesses will want to locate in places that are easy to get to and around.

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I totally agree that we must be investing in transit. We can only absorb so many more people. We need quick and easy access from Providence to the Airport. We need to continue to capitalize on our access to New York and Boston via rail.

I've read that Rhode Island withstood the tech crash and the post September 11th crash quite well because very little of the state's wealth is in the stock market.

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the economic meltdown after the current white house resident's term had started was actually started during the term of the former white house resident. signs of the recession were seen as early as 1999. his term really did not start till 2001.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

No there weren't, but thanks for pointing out your political affiliation. :rolleyes: It completely missed the point of my response. :thumbsup:

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KRC- Actually I have no political affiliation, so don't assume. I vote for who I believe will manage the executive branch of the country the best. I am neither one nor the other and I even grew up in a family with very deep ties to each side of Rhode Island politics. So in the future, I'm sure you

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"As most people in RI would tell you, RI has been ravaged by an inferiority complex of its residents in regards to Boston for many years/decades now, so the local pride thing will have to come a long way for that to be legitimate"

Would many people say that Boston has more to offer and is a world class city?...It think so. But to say that "MOST" rhode islanders have an "inferiority complex" is an extremley poor choice of words. Sure your entitled to your opinion and if you feel this way so be it. But to claim that "MOST" have some sort of inferiority complex is perhaps a gross overestimation. Being a life-long Rhode Islander (With the exception of three years of school) I would have to say most of the people I have been exposed to view Boston as an asset and a great place to visit that is a mere 45 minutes away. I cant say I have ever sensed or discovered an "inferiority complex" with those Ive come across. Out of curiosity, what led you to the conclustion that the majority of rhode islanders feel this way. Also, how did you diagnose this inferiority complex...ie where is the evidence? BTW,

Inferiority Complex: A persistent sense of inadequacy or a tendency to self-diminishment, sometimes resulting in excessive aggressiveness through overcompensation.

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I think there is a degree of an inferiority complex in Rhode Island, but I think for the general public, it has very little to do with Boston. Perhaps there are some in business who feel it towards Boston, but I think most business people would be more rational than that.

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So.. DaveRPi, part of what I took from your post is that if Boston and NYC have tremendous recessions in there economy, we will follow? I don't disagree.. im just asking.. and Maybe in 200 years.!!!!. Providence will be the dominant economy of the East Coast! ;) and the other cities will feed off of us.

"

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The point you made about Rhode Islanders feeling inferior to Boston is so wrong that I'm not going to bother to continue...

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I haven't been following this discussion well enough to wade into the fray, but I saw this comment, and wished to chime in...

I guessed before I moved here last year that Providence folk and RI residents as a group would have this Boston inferiority complex, what with the major metro nearby, but I must say, I've pleasantly found this to be false. People here are quite self-assured and confident, happy to live here and many people I know (myself included) would rather live here than Boston.

I've heard people say a zillion times over something to the effect of, "Let's see, almost everything I need here in town, Newport 35 minutes away, Block Island and other other islands a chip shot away, Boston for a change of pace 45 minutes or a quick train ride away, tons of colleges, beautiful architecture, character galore, still affordable... I love this place!"

I've heard orders of magnitude more Boston "no, mine's bigger!" belly-aching about NYC than Providence about Boston.

- Garris

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Talking about Providence's potential, there was a fascinating recent article in "The New York Times" about which communities in the NY metro would best weather a downturn in real estate pricing. The link is here (free registration required):

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/27/realestate/27bubble.html

There was one particularly interesting quote regarding White Plains, NY that I thought many here would find interesting:

"In Westchester, the heralding of the birth of White Plains as a legitimate small city have been a feature of several real estate runups. In the harsh light of a downturn, however, its limitations - like a traditional lack of life at night - come back to haunt it. But in the past several years, the development has reached a new level and given White Plains something it never had before: a skyline. Marge Schneider, an executive vice president of Cappelli Enterprises... said that White Plains will remain in good standing because the more than 2,000 luxury apartments in the center of town have put residents on the streets at night. Everything from big box retailers to restaurants and a new movie theater have opened, and teem with customers... But over all [another analyst] is not confident in its prospects. Mr. Mason said that there is an inorganic element to a city built on the back of large development projects. He is more confident in the sustainability of progress in the northern city of Peekskill, which, unlike White Plains, has been settled by a burgeoning population of artists, taking advantage of available lofts and river views."

Assuming that this statement is true, if there were to be a downturn, does everything think that the newly resurgent Downcity area would fare better than the Capitol District and OTW housing?

- Garris

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Assuming that this statement is true, if there were to be a downturn, does everything think that the newly resurgent Downcity area would fare better than the Capitol District and OTW housing?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

No, I think Providence is small enough and intertwined with itself enough that a downturn wouldn't really hurt any particular area any more than any other. I also see people moving here more so to live than to make an investment and cash out, so if the market cools, that's all the better for people who want a cheaper home and aren't looking for big money.

I can see a bit of Providence v. Pawtucket in the White Plains v. Peekskill part of the article. However, unlike White Plains, Providence is not lacking in nightlife. We're jam packed with restaurants, we have theatres that are expanding, people come from Boston and the Cape to go to Providence's clubs... If anything, it is Pawtucket that has no life, night or otherwise. There may be a lot of creative people working there, but there is not much beyond their work for them to do, or to attract other people to the community. Also, with their proximity, Providence and Pawtucket might as well be considered as one city. It would be good if the connections between the two along Hope and North Main could be strengthened.

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