By breaking off talks with a group looking to redevelop the former Shooters nightclub property on the Providence waterfront, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management has given the public a chance to rethink just what belongs on this waterfront property next to India Point Park at the head of Narragansett Bay.
Why a rethink? Because despite a patient and accommodating posture by the state – which bought the property from the federal government after it was done being used as a staging ground for the Interstate 195 relocation – it would seem that there is no one who can come up with a viable plan that meets the strict guidelines imposed on development of the property.
Citizens from the neighborhood of Fox Point see it as an extension of their neighborhood. And based on that claim, they convinced the state to not allow condominiums to be built on the 1.7-acre site.
But given the rather substantial barrier that I-195 and its access roads represent, it is difficult to look at the Shooters property as part of Fox Point. One could argue that a commuter stuck in rush-hour traffic five days a week has a more intimate relationship with India Point Park than someone living on Transit Street five blocks away.
One potential answer would be to transfer the Shooters land to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission and allow that very public and structured body to take over finding an appropriate developer. Another option would be to loosen the strict guidelines over what can go there and see what plans might percolate to the surface.
In any case, however, it won’t do to let this prime location sit unutilized. •
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