Providence councilor rails against Parcel 2 residential development plans

WARD 1 PROVIDENCE City Councilman John Goncalves recently called on Gov. Daniel J. McKee and the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to reconsider the process that’s being used to decide the future of Parcel 2, a 1.08-acre site on South Water Street in Providence. This image shows the Parent + Diamond Real Estate Development proposal for the site. / COURTESY I-195 REDEVELOPMENT DISTRICT COMMISSION

PROVIDENCE – The residential property developments proposed for Parcel 2 in downtown Providence are too tall, lack green space and need more parking, according to a city councilor who is opposing the process.

Ward 1 Councilman John Goncalves recently called on Gov. Daniel J. McKee and the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to reconsider the process that’s being used to decide the future of Parcel 2, a 1.08-acre site on South Water Street at the base of the Michael S. Van Leesten Pedestrian Bridge, where the commission is poised to select one of three competing proposals for a six-story residential building at the site.

Goncalves made the statement after he said his office did extensive outreach and gathered feedback from residents of the area who shared concerns about the size of the proposals submitted by real estate development groups Eden Properties, Urbanica Inc., and Parent + Diamond Real Estate Development with its partner Urban Spaces LLC.

Goncalves said he collected surveys from 75 community members, including “dozens of direct abutters,” who have concerns, including the size of the proposals, the absence of a major entrance to the property on South Main Street, a lack of ample parking and a dearth of green space.

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“We understand the immense task before the commission, which includes balancing the considerations of our neighborhood with development and growth in the capital city and state,” Goncalves wrote in a letter, co-signed by abutters and community organization leaders. “With that said, neighbors have expressed to me, as their elected voice, to respectfully request the commission be considerate of all of these concerns and ensure that your final decision on the proposal happens with the community, rather than simply to the community.”

The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, which canceled its past two monthly meetings, is next scheduled to gather on Jan. 19, after gathering public input about the Parcel 2 proposal during its last meeting.

“We appreciate the comments shared by Councilman Goncalves and his constituents and will review and discuss the issues they have raised as the selection process continues,” said Robert Davis, chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, in an emailed statement to Providence Business News. “Besides the opportunities for public comment at our meetings, the commission has encouraged the developers to participate in meetings with neighborhood organizations. The commission recognizes that the location and configuration of this parcel present unique issues in terms of design and use. Those issues will be considered carefully as the commission continues its review of the proposals.”

In October, Davis said he and his colleagues were reviewing information submitted by the real estate development firms, along with input from the public and the commission’s design and financial consultants, before deciding if any of the proposals suit Parcel 2 and the commission’s goals for the property.

The commission’s request for proposals asked for projects that could include any use, or a combination of uses, that foster economic development, generate jobs, enhance the value of surrounding neighborhoods and augment a “sense of place.”

Marc Larocque is a PBN staff writer. Contact him at Larocque@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

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