PROVIDENCE – Construction of a five-story hotel on College Hill that will provide 118 guest rooms moved closer to approval on Tuesday, gaining allowances for additional height, less parking and design changes from the Providence City Plan Commission.
A rezoning for its proposed site, from residential-professional to commercial, will be decided by the Providence City Council.
The hotel sought by Smart Princeton Hotel Group LLC is a pared-down version of the hotel design that had been rejected by the commission last November.
The new design, by Providence architecture firm ZDS Inc., will rise five stories instead of six, to 60.8 feet. The number of guest rooms also was reduced. Despite the modifications, the building height still required the CPC’s approval for the C-2 zone because it restricts buildings to 50-foot heights and four stories.
Similarly, although the hotel will provide 40 parking spaces, that’s half what is required in that zone.
The hotel is aimed at families of Brown University students, and its location is a short walk to the commercial center of the campus on Thayer Street.
The site at 209, 211-213 and 217 Angell St. is on the edge of where the commercial area of the campus borders residential homes, many of them historical. Three multi-family structures will be torn down to make way for the hotel, if it receives final approval.
Many neighborhood residents, as well as two City Council members — Helen Anthony and John Goncalves — spoke against the project on Tuesday. They cited the size and scale of the building, its need for several allowances for more height or parking reductions, and what they said was the slow creep of the Brown University campus into residential neighborhoods of College Hill.
Anthony said the proposal is inconsistent with the comprehensive plan for the city. “Simply put, the historic character and quality of life on College Hill is under attack,” she said. “Developers are purchasing private homes and turning them into dorms. Brown is buying up property surrounding its campus and developing it. Businesses are pushing the residential boundaries.”
The commission approved the application in a series of 4-3 votes.
Commission members who voted in favor cited its economic impact, including five times more than the existing tax on the properties. The project will not seek a tax stabilization agreement from the city, which would reduce its taxes, according to the development team.
Cris Potter, a commission member who favored the proposal, said he didn’t think it was out of scale with the rest of the area. Many tall buildings are now in the immediate vicinity of the site, he said, and the project will add to the city’s tax revenue. “This is not out of scale with that neighborhood,” he said.
Other commission members said it required too many deviations from the city’s comprehensive plan. “They’re going to have to demolish three buildings to accomplish this,” said Harry Bilodeau.
Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at email@example.com.