Tonight at a special meeting of the Providence City Council, a majority of the members voted to override the Mayor’s veto of the zoning variance requested by the developer of the Hope Point Tower.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Terrence M. Hassett (Ward 12), in his role as Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Ordinances, has shepherded this legislation through two public hearings and to the full Council for vote. Over his long career as a Councilman he has been on the front lines of some of the City’s most notable revitalization projects.
“I have seen a lot in my 21 years on the Council, and I believe that Hope Point Tower will turn out to be one of the most important developments in our City’s history,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Terrence M. Hassett. “I was there when neighbors said ‘no’ to the Renaissance Hotel. I was there when neighbors said ‘no’ to the Providence Place Mall. I went to bat for both and followed my gut that these projects were good for the City and the State, and they were. Today, I feel the same about this project, and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition.”
Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) has been a vocal proponent for this project. Through her role in Council leadership and as a member of the Council’s Committee on Finance, she has a unique understanding of the financial perils that face the city of Providence.
“Today’s vote is not simply an expression of support for a much-needed development project. It is a commitment to create jobs and much-needed tax revenue for our City. It is an essential step forward for economic development in Providence. And, it is an exciting opportunity to jump-start activity in the I-195 redevelopment zone,” stated Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan. “I’m grateful to my colleagues on the Council for once again coming together and making a clear statement that we are serious about getting things done in Providence and helping to rebuild Rhode Island’s economy. I understand that sometimes when it comes to ambitious development projects, it is easier to vote ‘no’ and pretend that attacking developers and maintaining the status quo is somehow a public good. But when our schools are struggling, when our City is facing financial challenges, and when we needed to change the narrative in Providence, this vote sends a message to responsible developers that we are serious about taking the bold action that is needed to revitalize our City.”
Ryan continued, “This vote is a beginning and I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue the important work of bringing a new spirit of energy and excitement to the I-195 zone. Almost thirty years ago, Providence made history by moving rivers to create a new urban landscape. Then we moved a highway to create a new opportunity zone. Today, with this vote, we have begun to change the culture of how we look at development projects in the city. And, that will allow us to capitalize on a range of new opportunities, creating jobs, increasing tax revenue, and encouraging new businesses to make Providence their home.”
Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) became the deciding vote to override the veto and grant the developer’s request for height relief and zoning change.
“This decision was not easy. I prayed about it. I talked to whoever would speak to me. I asked folks the right questions, and asked them all the same questions I always ask – what are the threats and what are the opportunities for my community. And I have concluded that opportunities far outweigh the threats,” stated Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris. “So today, I stood to override the Mayor’s veto, and I pledge to all those who have been so vocal about affordable housing: I heard you, and I am with you, and we will have it. By the end of my term, we will be a City that puts people to work, that pays them fair and livable wages, and we will have the equity, the income and the equality that every person needs and deserves.”
With tonight’s override, the developer can move forward working with the I-195 Commission.
The Hope Point Tower project is expected to generate more than 1,500 high-wage jobs in total for the three years of its projected construction period, representing nearly every trade, and will also create business for many suppliers and providers of materials and services. Over the next 20 years, the Hope Point Tower is expected to generate $70 million in property taxes alone; it is expected to pay Providence about $250 million in property taxes over the next 40 years. The 2017 Appleseed Study estimated that Hope Point Tower could generate $273 million in statewide economic impact, as well as a one-time increase of $146 million in the Rhode Island economy.
Councilors Luis A. Aponte, Carmen Castillo, Michael J. Correia, Terrence M. Hassett, John J. Igliozzi, Wilbur W. Jennings Jr., Sabina Matos, Nicholas J. Narducci Jr., Mary Kay Harris, and Jo-Ann Ryan all voted to override the Mayor’s Veto.