Today, ahead of their next meeting to hear the mixed-use residential and commercial development proposals for Parcels 8 and 8A, I am respectfully asking Chairman Robert Davis, Executive Director Caroline Skuncik, and the members of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to ensure decisions on the development of Providence land happen “with the community” rather than simply “to the community.” In my many discussions with constituents, there is a constant thread as we look toward future construction projects with mindfulness toward maintaining our neighborhood vibrancy and fabric.
The area always has and should support local restaurants and shops from Al Forno to Bacaro to Geoff’s to Felini’s to Coffee Exchange to Adler’s Hardware. South Main, South Water, and Wickenden Street is our artsy, funky character-filled shopping destination that should not be overtaken by luxury housing and undermined by the retail corporatization of this area.
The rapid growth of our neighborhood is inevitable and more housing and economic opportunities should be acknowledged. We have seen critical development projects like Point 225, and Aloft, and have Parcels 6, Emblem 125, and 9 and more coming to fruition. However, nearly 9 acres are still available.
Constituents are once again requesting that the Commission formalize and establish a task force of neighborhood abutters/representatives and local businesses who can help develop Requests for Proposals (RFPs) on the front end to ensure alignment with our vibrant neighborhoods. If the commission cannot follow through on this request, we will respectfully urge the rest of our colleagues in government to advocate that the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President create such a task force or otherwise give back municipal oversight and local zoning control of the I-195 Special Economic Development District.
As we continue to gather robust feedback from our constituents and neighborhood abutters, we will formulate a more formal position on each of these development proposals. Still, we ultimately look forward to working with our state partners to ensure the vitality and vibrancy of the neighborhood remain strong.