After nearly a decade spent on a dead-end detour driven in large part by developer Patrick Conley and former Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline, the fate of Providence’s Allens Avenue working waterfront seems settled.
With National Grid buying the Providence Piers property from Conley, developers up and down the street do not have to worry about potential residential or hospitality uses throwing a wrench in grittier plans.
Instead, developers can explore more deeply those commercial uses that can take advantage of the neighborhood’s easy access to highways and rail transportation, as well as the 40-foot-deep channel of the Providence River.
The purchase of the Promet Marine Services business by Sims Metal Management has shown that the Allens Avenue area can perform quite nicely as a scrap-metal shipping site, but it would be of greater value to the region if a more diversified use for the property emerges.
Providence Economic Development Director James Bennett, in an interview with PBN, mentioned a distribution center and light manufacturing as possibilities. But he isn’t trying to drive any one kind of development into the area. The city trying to drive transformation of the working waterfront is, after all, what caused all the confusion in the first place.
What matters most to Bennett and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is the creation of high-paying, blue-collar jobs. Now that’s a vision that’s easy to get behind. •
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