This week’s final installment of the three-part series by staff writer Patrick Anderson on the redevelopment of East Providence’s industrial waterfront supplies an opportunity to assess the city’s approach.
Through the decade-old East Providence Waterfront District Commission, the city has created a one-stop solution for developers looking to take on projects on the waterfront. The commission starts from the perspective that the city wants the abandoned industrial sites to be developed, be they former fuel depots or steel mills. It has collected all the relevant permitting power in the commission, so once the developer has finished making presentations and been approved, the project is good to go.
The second takeaway is the recognition by the commission that a limited government approach is the best one. It might be more dramatic to take land by eminent domain as part of some grand scheme, but just ask New London, Conn., how well that approach works. The real estate market is often mercurial and operates in fits and starts, but it is the best long-term tool for development. •