Updated March 28 at 10:28am

Allens Avenue bizs move to keep out mixed use

By Patrick Anderson
PBN Staff Writer

Industrial businesses on the Providence waterfront are looking to close the book – for good – on plans to diversify and redevelop Allens Avenue.

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Allens Avenue bizs move to keep out mixed use


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.”

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Bad idea. Only the Providence Journal thinks that it's good idea to have an attractive part of the waterfront close to downtown dominated by a heap of rusting metal and 8 ugly businesses that provide only a few jobs, no growth prospects, next to zero investment, and limited tax dollars. It sort of confirms why the Journal is a declining entity. No, mixed use is the way to go in a old city saddled historically with a waterfront that is totally mismanaged and ugly. You know you have a lack of vision among the city fathers when the alternative to these eight ugly businesses is a park ( and a poorly maintained one at that). Almost all Eastern seaboard cities have made attempts to rectify and re-claim at least part of their waterfront for the enjoyment of the general public. Only in Providence do we have a beautiful new bridge which is viewed by a collection of storage tanks. I am sure those tanks really enjoy that view.

Those who resist change will eventually go the way of the buggy whip.

Saturday, May 24, 2014 | Report this

When is the last time you saw oil tankers coming up the bay? Has that car port been used at all? The businesses that are really booming down there are the strip clubs. These industrial businesses need to move further down the bay to perhaps Quonset. Look at Boston's harbor redevelopment. The Seaport area has come a long way. Now it's Providence's turn.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 | Report this
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