Hope Point Tower sent back to Providence committee for another hearing

THE PROVIDENCE City Council decided Thursday to send the Hope Point Tower back to a committee for another hearing./COURTESY THE FANE ORGANIZATION
THE PROVIDENCE City Council decided Thursday to send the Hope Point Tower back to a committee for another hearing. / COURTESY THE FANE ORGANIZATION

PROVIDENCE — The Hope Point Tower project will head back to a City Council committee, one that has already voted to recommend a denial of its rezoning.

But supporters of the project said, this time, they expect New York developer Jason Fane will attend the public hearing on the project and make a detailed presentation to the City Council members. Supporters include people who work in construction, and those who want to see a more development-friendly mindset in Providence.

Opponents of the 46-story residential tower say they aren’t sure what to expect by the rebooting, but will keep the pressure on a rejection.

“There were a few council people who wanted to hear from Fane,” said Brent Runyon, executive director of the Providence Preservation Society, which opposes the project. “So they’ll hear from Fane. But they’re going to hear from the public too.”

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The project has drawn opposition from neighborhood associations in surrounding areas. Many residents have said the tower is too tall, and will occupy a site that wasn’t intended for something so massive.

The City Council’s decision Thursday to refer the project back to its Committee on Ordinances was made without explanation, and authorized in a voice vote.

Since the state and city review process began in 2017, the residential tower project has moved from the quasi-state Interstate 195 Redevelopment District Commission to two committees associated with the city of Providence. In addition to design approval, for the project to move ahead the city would need to rezone the parcel of land to allow a 600 foot height.

The I-195 commission has already given the project a preliminary approval, and set the purchase price for the lot, but it’s contingent on the project gaining additional city approvals. The initial request is for the rezoning, to allow the height of 46 stories. The current zoning would allow up to 100 feet in new construction, rather than the 600 feet sought by Fane.

Fane, president of The Fane Organization, objected in July after the Ordinance Committee’s recommended to deny the rezoning, saying in a letter he had not been able to attend the hearing and had not been able to make a presentation.

Michael Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Building Trades, had asked the council president to refer the project back to the committee. On Thursday, following the vote, he said he was pleased with the council’s decision. This will give Fane an opportunity to explain the project to the council members, and give supporters more opportunity to convince them it’s in the city’s interest, Sabitoni said.

“A project of this magnitude needs to be properly vetted. I don’t think that’s happened,” he said, after the meeting.

“It’s too much money for the city of Providence. It’s too many jobs for the people we represent for people to cast it aside without anyone in this building even having a conversation with the building developer.”

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.