Industrial businesses on the Providence waterfront are looking to close the book – for good – on plans to diversify and redevelop Allens Avenue.
The Working Waterfront Alliance, which represents eight companies on the Allens Avenue corridor, have petitioned the city to change the zoning on both sides of the street to prevent any nonindustrial activity there.
Since bold plans to bring hotels, apartments and stores to Allens Avenue were killed about three years ago, the waterfront has been viewed as a safe haven for the scrap metal and energy companies that operate there.
But even though Providence’s comprehensive plan calls for industrial use only on the waterfront, the city zoning code still contains some possible avenues for mixed-use development there.
It’s these openings the Alliance hopes to eradicate from the code to snuff out any future visions of residential or commercial activity along the corridor.
“This will give industrial businesses the certainty they need to invest in their property without the threat of being placed next to incompatible uses,” said alliance spokesman Christopher D. Hunter. “The reason the Alliance was created was to not allow condos and hotels here, because inevitably residents would complain about the industrial uses and we think they should be given the chance to stay and grow.”
The proposed changes to the zoning ordinance would make separate changes to the inland side of Allens, now zoned heavy industrial, and the water side of the street now zoned marine industrial.
On the inland side, the changes prohibit live-work space, day care, libraries, museums, art galleries, spectator assembly, outdoor recreation, marinas, sports facilities, bars, restaurants, television studios and even “arts and crafts” manufacturing.
On the water side, residential mixed use and live-work space – now allowed – would be prohibited, as would restaurants, day care facilities, libraries, museums, art galleries and anything where spectators gather.
Already, it would be extremely difficult for anyone to build anything involving those uses on the waterfront side, as they would have to contend with the W-3 district’s intent to “promote the Port of Providence and related maritime industrial and commercial uses within the areas of Providence’s waterfront.”