Ward 5

Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan

Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan represents the neighborhoods of Elmhurst, Mount Pleasant, and the western edge of Manton. She has been a Council member since 2015 and currently serves as the Majority Whip of Council. Additionally, Councilwoman Ryan is Chair of the Committee on Municipal Operations and Oversight and serves on several committees including Finance and Ordinance.

 

READ HER FULL BIO HERE >

Ward 5: Elmhurst, Mount Pleasant, Manton

Ward 5 stretches across the Northwestern part of the city, encompassing portions of the Elmhurst, Mount Pleasant, and Manton neighborhoods.

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Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan: Providence Needs to Move Forward

When a majority of the City Council came together to vote “Yes” for a zoning change that would allow a new $300-million development to go forward in our city, generating an estimated $4 million in annual tax revenues, it was an important sign that we understood the need to move Providence forward.

For too long, the city has been seen as fostering an anti-development culture. Instead of looking at economic development opportunities as a chance to get things done and generate vital revenue for Providence, some city officials appear to be more interested in imposing unreasonable demands on those who are willing to invest in the city. The fact is, we should be welcoming those who see promise in Providence and are willing to spend money to do business here.

It’s no secret that our city faces significant challenges, among them staggering pension liabilities that threaten to plunge us into possible bankruptcy. Many of the city’s schools are struggling and we received word this week that Rhode Island’s schools as a whole are underperforming, with a Dec. 2 Providence Journal editorial noting that “Rhode Island’s public education system is woefully bad” and that the situation “presents a direct threat to the state’s chances of rebuilding its economy.”

The disturbing results of the Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment raised a serious alarm. We are lagging behind Massachusetts, because our neighbors to the north made a commitment to improving their schools as part of a broad approach to economic development and job growth. We can do the same, but the only way to get on the road to making that kind of meaningful, sustained commitment is to take advantage of significant opportunities when they present themselves. That is how we get on a path to making things better.

In this environment, rejecting a proposal like the Hope Point Tower is not just reckless and irresponsible — it does a disservice to our taxpayers. It ignores the need to get things moving in our city, to show some signs of progress with the I-195 redevelopment zone, an area that was created for the expressed purpose of generating new development and jobs. But it isn’t just about reshaping our city’s skyline … it’s about sending a message that Providence is serious about getting its economy on track and taking the bold action necessary to revitalize our city.

The Providence Journal implored Mayor Jorge Elorza not to stand in the way of this project. The speaker of the House and Senate president rightly called on him to act and reminded him that this was a chance to change the perception that the city was “mired in the same bureaucratic delays and barriers that have held it back in the past.” And the City Council gave him the chance to green-light this vital project and create a new sense of energy in Providence.

Unfortunately, the mayor missed an opportunity to lead. I hope my colleagues on the City Council will come together to recognize that our city deserves better. We need to take action now to change the culture and show that Providence can effectively promote and support economic development. We can do it as part of a comprehensive approach to building a strong community where businesses and individuals work in concert to help rebuild our schools, create affordable housing opportunities and make this a vibrant city that is a destination for those seeking a strong quality of life.

It starts with vision, the ability to see that a zoning change can represent a change in attitude, a shift in perspective, and a willingness to do things differently. By letting the Hope Point Tower go forward, we can finally begin to make good on the promise of the I-195 redevelopment zone, approving a signature project that will spark further development, while creating desperately-needed jobs and generating essential tax revenue.

*Originally published by The Providence Journal on December 4, 2018

Providence City Council Tonight Approves Four New Tax Stabilization Agreements

At tonight’s City Council meeting four Tax Stabilization Agreements (TSAs) were passed for the first time. Each will need to be passed one more time by the Council to formally be approved.

“We are creating jobs and growing businesses here in Providence,” stated City Council Majority Leader and Chairman of the Committee on Finance John J. Igliozzi. “More cranes in the city skyline mean two things – more jobs, and more growth – and that’s a good thing for all of us.”

These TSAs were vetted by the Committee on Finance through a transparent, open, and predictable process, and were sent to the full Council for passage. Three of the projects passed tonight by the City Council are for the rehabilitation and redevelopment of approximately 207,000 square feet of underused space, which will be redeveloped into mixed-use residential and commercial spaces in the North End and the downtown corridor. The fourth project, also in the North End, will develop an empty lot into nearly 111,000 square feet of new commercial space.

“These projects expand our tax base which is a direct benefit for every taxpayer, and will bring greater opportunity for our residents,” stated City Council Majority Whip and Committee on Finance member Jo-Ann Ryan. “Providence continually gets ranked as one of the best cities to live, and development like these only adds to the quality of life for current and future residents who wish to call Providence home.”

The first two TSAs passed tonight are both located in the City’s North End neighborhood. Providence 2017, LLC plans to transform an empty lot at 145 Corliss Street into a self-storage facility which would include 863 storage units. The second is for Wanskuck Mill, located at 725, 726, 715, and 745 Branch Avenue; the development is owned by Branch Holdings, LLC, and currently has 60 apartment units. The project would include an additional 150 apartments with affordable rents ranging from $1,100 to $1,400 per month in rent. The project would also include the addition of commercial space in the property, such as a restaurant, retail and/or office space.

The final two TSAs passed tonight are both located in the downtown corridor. The property located at 185 Westminster Street will include the redevelopment of 50,000 square feet of underused space. The developer will create new mixed-use residential and commercial spaces, which will also include a restaurant.  A property located at 170 Westminster Street will be redeveloped into 57,000 square feet of residential and commercial/office space, including a restaurant on the top floor.

Together these projects will create 360 high-paying construction jobs and 140 full-time jobs upon their completion.  The developers have also agreed to use minority and/or women-owned businesses when possible, will enter into a First Source agreement with the City, will take part in the “Buy Providence” initiative as much as possible, will make an investment into the City Council Parks and Recreation Trust Account, and will ensure that all contractors and subcontractors have or are affiliated with an apprenticeship program.

Projected total annual tax revenue for these projects at the end of their TSAs is expected to be more than $2M.

Statement From City Council Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan

I serve in several capacities, and one of them is as a member of the Committee on Ordinances.  At our last meeting, held on Monday, October 15, 2018, we were reviewing proposed amendments to an existing ordinance. This ordinance would ensure that the City of Providence would make a more concerted effort to work with more women and minority-owned businesses.

During the review process, the attorney from the City Solicitors Office raised concerns that they had received the proposed changes earlier that day and hadn’t had adequate time to review them.  I take my responsibility very seriously and felt that we should honor their request to do their due diligence. That is why my colleagues and I all agreed to continue this item until Wednesday, October 24, 2018 (our next scheduled meeting).

No one is more invested in encouraging our City departments to do more business with minority and women-owned businesses than Councilwoman Castillo and me.  As women, we both have a vested interest in pushing this ordinance forward. We just want it to be one that works.

As elected officials, we are called upon to make the right decisions for our City, and sometimes that takes time.  That’s why it was such a shock to have the President of the City Council react in this manner when we were only delaying the discussion by a week.

Finally, Council President Salvatore’s impertinent remarks directed to Councilwoman Castillo and me after the meeting were regrettable. It was a poor display and behavior unbecoming the Office of the Council President.  He should know better, and frankly, we deserve better.

Jo-Ann Ryan, Providence City Council Majority Whip

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