In order to get the maximum use out of the 40 acres that make up the footprint of the former Interstate 195 land in downtown Providence, about 1.7 acres once dedicated as green space will now be made available for development.
The change was approved after a three-month review by the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission on March 19. Despite the reduction, the footprint will still maintain 16.7 acres as green space, exceeding the Federal Highway Administration’s 14.5-acre requirement. According to Colin Kane, chairman of the commission, and John Kelly, vice chairman, the park portion should be completed within the next three years but the entire project will take years, perhaps more than a decade.
Faced with the task of making the most of the land use in the heart of Providence, the redevelopment commission finds itself making slow progress and is hopeful the work will become more cohesive in 2012. Defining the green space was a step in the right direction.
A 0.6-acre space off Traverse Street that was formerly identified as a park will now be combined with an adjacent parcel and be available for development. “We are not anti-parks,” Kelly said. “Using that parcel as a park didn’t make sense. That piece is near a parcel we envision will be used for real estate development, such as a condo.” Together the two individual lots total 1 acre.
Originally, Providence investigated the possibility of a series of parks across the I-195 footprint, leading from the Providence River toward the city’s south side. Those plans were dropped because it made the development of the remaining parcels more problematic, as each would be reduced in size to accommodate the green space. As a result the city created a 5.9-acre park at Eddy and Peck streets, along the west side of the Providence River, to serve as a landing for a proposed pedestrian foot bridge.
According to Kelly, the park was located on the most valuable property on the footprint. Because the plan had initially provided more than 18 acres of green space, much more than required, the commission also decided to carve two small parcels – totaling 1.1 acres – off the 5.9-acre park for development.