Fane tower debate key to future

Topic No. 2 on development is the Hope Point Tower, the nearly 600-foot residential skyscraper being proposed by The Fane Organization.

Almost two years since it was first proposed, it has gotten approval from the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission.

But Fane’s renderings show a building whose design is wildly out of character with the other tall buildings in the city, and its scale would dominate the skyline.

Some say that is exactly what the city needs. Others find it an offense not only on a design front but on what it does not provide, which is affordable housing.

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The conflict between the state’s interest in injecting investment capital into the former I-195 land and city residents’ preservationist bent is one that needs to be resolved.

There is no conflict between rehabilitating the region’s Industrial Revolution-era mills and welcoming new and striking architecture that moves the region forward. Western Europe has been connecting the old and the new to pleasing effect for years. Isn’t it time Rhode Island tried to do the same?


  1. I agree. I am and have been a supporter of historic preservation. But historic preservation cannot thrive without economic development and embracing the new. The Fane tower does not involve destruction of historic buildings. And the most vocal opponents are residents of the jewelry district and their opposition is disingenuous and smacks of “not in my back yard”. But residents of the jewelry district account for less than 5% of the city’s population. And we are looking at economic development that would benefit the entire city and its population not just residents of the jewelry district or downtown for that matter. This is an urban downtown area and tall buildings are part of the makeup of such areas. And many of the opponents talk about the need for affordable housing – we have plenty of affordable housing in the various neighborhoods of the city, all of which, given the small size of city, are within easy access to downtown and the jewelry district. Let’s focus funds for affordable housing in those neighborhoods. Design issues aside, we need this sort of economic development to propel Providence into the 21st Century. Don’t use zoning ordinances to stifle economic development in Providence for the sake of the very few who live in the downtown/jewelry district and just don’t want the a high rise in their backyard.

  2. Fully agree.

    First – This proposal is not at all out of scale, out of place, or “offensive” except to a few hundred folks.

    Second – The parcel is downtown…at the corner of Dyer and Dorrance – the street City Hall is on! It is a mere 3/10s of a mile from all of the other towers in the Financial District.

    This is Providence- not Portsmouth! This is the core of New England’s second largest metro, in the top 10% of the nation’s 383 metros, its train station is the nation’s 11th busiest!

    I am sick of major projects going 50 miles north. Enough!