Updated March 29 at 11:29am

New plans for rezoning waterfront

Sweeping visions of hotels, shops and restaurants lining Providence’s industrial waterfront appear dead following the sale of the Promet Marine Services ship-repair yard on Allens Avenue to an international scrap-metal recycler.

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New plans for rezoning waterfront


Sweeping visions of hotels, shops and restaurants lining Providence’s industrial waterfront appear dead following the sale of the Promet Marine Services ship-repair yard on Allens Avenue to an international scrap-metal recycler.

Pulling back from the broad rezoning plans pushed by past mayors to allow a wide range of commercial and residential uses along Allens Avenue, city officials now plan to release a scaled-back rezoning proposal that would add only office space to the waterfront mix.

“I think the energy [for rezoning] has left the room – people are much more concerned about what may or not happen” with land freed up by the rerouting of Interstate 195 through the city, said Providence City Councilor Luis Aponte, who represents Ward 10 and has supported waterfront rezoning. “I still think it should be part of the plan, although I don’t know how attractive it will be with scrap there.”

City Council President Michael Solomon, an opponent of earlier plans to remake the working waterfront with parks, condominiums and entertainment, said he expects a new plan with “minor” zoning changes to be released to the council in the next two weeks.

“I think right now everyone is in agreement there should be minor changes,” Solomon said. “There will probably be some office space involved. No condominiums, restaurants, shops or hotels.”

Spurring development on Allens Avenue, which is now home to a mix of marine industrial businesses, auto-repair yards and strip clubs, has been an objective in City Hall going back several mayors.

In the colorful renderings of “Providence 2020,” a plan commissioned by then-Mayor David N. Cicilline and released in 2005, the same blocks now home to the bankrupt Providence Piers and the new Sims Metal Management scrap yard were filled with throngs of visitors to waterfront parks, a riverwalk, hotels and residential towers.

But as they have in cities up and down the coast, efforts to trigger investment by easing waterfront zoning restrictions to allow a wide mix of uses, including shops, hotels, restaurants and residential development, have run into strong opposition from existing property owners who worry those uses will eventually squeeze out their businesses.

Unlike his predecessors, Mayor Angel Taveras has hailed Allens Avenue’s industrial sector and supports the plan scheduled to be introduced to the City Plan Commission Nov. 15 that would keep nearly the entire waterfront industrial.

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The lack of vision and the inability to accept change that has rocked so many other cities is astounding. Angel Tavares is not a man of vision or daring. What a waste of a waterfront. For old cities when the zoning was unknown and not a factor in their early development, many cities wasted valuable space on specialized and unsuitable businesses. Enlightened cities rectified those old mistakes, but Providence clings to them with some misguided notion that it has economic benefit. Maybe because I am a senior citizen, but I have heard for decades that the Providence waterfront was going to be revitalized and nothing has happened. To waste a potentially beautiful waterfront with oil storage tanks and scraps which not only take up plenty of space and pay minimal property taxes and provide only a small number of jobs. I do not understand the objection to condos. It's not like Providence has many condos lining the waterfront. It has ZERO. The taxes they would pay should be attractive enough. But I guess Mayor No Vision Tavares wants strip clubs and dirty businesses.

Sunday, November 6, 2011 | Report this

Richard, you're tired, old and, to be honest, you have overstayed your welcome. Mr. Taveras (learn to spell his name, jerk) is, by far, the best mayor we've had yet. As is typical of your kind, you and your generation drove this state off the cliff and your kind still has the gaul to spit your comments on here as if anyone would take you seriously. As a Providence resident, I will continue to support our mayor and his correct vision on this matter. Fake condos no one will buy does not replace the blue collar jobs that exist there...period. End of discussion.

Monday, November 7, 2011 | Report this

When I was a youngster travelling over the Washington Bridge on family trips I will always remember the huge multiple piles of scrap metal that filled the area where India Point Park now sits. I surely hope that this is not the future view on the Providence River. Take a trip down to Baltimore - an aquarium, Hard Rock Cafe, Ravens football and Orioles baseball stadiums and many hotels, shops and restaurants fill their waterfront - along with many boat tour vendors. Why isn't Providence moving in this direction? You have WaterFire and RI Shellfish - that's a great beginning to commercial growth and tourism. Do you think that the investors in these type businesses will come forward when a scrap metal plant is their neighbor? Isn't the city investing in a multi-million dollar visitor center bridge between So. Main and Eddy St.? Why bother - are the visitors going to have to view scrap metal plant and the noise and smells that go with it?

Monday, November 7, 2011 | Report this

Steven, thanks for your kind comments. You can disagree with me, but you don't have to be so vile and disrespectful in the process.

Monday, November 7, 2011 | Report this
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