DOT envisions revival of Providence to Newport ferry

This article by Patrick Anderson, Journal Staff Writer appeared in the Providence Journal on April 19, 2016

DOT envisions revival of Providence to Newport ferry

The 7-day service would be the first time the two cities are connected by scheduled ferry service since 2009

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Could the long-vacant former Shooters nightclub property be the key to making Providence-to-Newport ferry service finally work?

Rhode Island officials think so and are searching for a company to run seven-day-a-week ferries from the waterfront site on India Point to Perotti Park in Newport starting July 1.

It would be the first time the two cities are connected by scheduled ferry service since 2009, when the Rhode Island Public Transit Agency canceled its seasonal route after $575,000 in annual federal grant money dried up.

That ferry disembarked at Providence Piers on Allens Avenue, farther from downtown than India Point.

This latest shot at Narragansett Bay ferry service, which would run until Labor Day, will also place a greater focus on leisure travelers where the previous ferry service was oriented more toward commuters.

“The service we envision will have a robust schedule for both the casual summer visitor and for commuters. This is much different than the previous service that was concentrated just on commuters,” said DOT Spokesman Charles St. Martin in a statement. “Additionally, the [request for proposals] places the responsibility of developing a successful ferry program on the companies submitting the proposals.”

According to the request for proposals, the ferry would have to run, at minimum, between 10 a.m. and midnight.

It sets a maximum ticket price of $35, but asks bidders to propose fares and offer ridership projections under each ticket-price scenario.

The ferry will have to have a minimum trip frequency during rush hour of a boat every 90 minutes and during off-peak times of one every three hours.

The operator would be responsible for providing the ferries themselves and marketing the service.

As for what kind of subsidy the operator might get from the state, that too will be part of the bids.

The request for proposals said a barge might be attached to the Shooters wharf for the ferry to dock.

In its 10-year plan, the DOT has set aside $500,000 for the year that ends June 30 for a variety of transit projects including ferry service, and $1 million in subsequent years.
Along with giving people a traffic and parking-free route to Newport, ferries could provide some return on the state’s investment in the former Shooters site, which the state purchased for $3.2 million without an identified use after a voter referendum in 2010.

After a proposal to build a concert venue on the property failed to draw financing, last year state officials began talks with culinary advocate David Dadekian about building a public food market there.

Dadekian said Tuesday that he is excited about the possibility of a ferry depositing passengers right outside the door of the food market, should it come together, although he is not counting on marine traffic in the market’s business model.

“I think it is a great idea,” Dadekian said. “I don’t think it will affect our venue either way, but it will bring more traffic.”

Dadekian said he has agreed on the parameters of a lease agreement for the Shooters property with the state Department of Environmental Management, which owns it, but is waiting to secure financing to sign it. Although he said he is very optimistic on securing necessary capital, he could not put a timeline on when the project might move forward.

Providence Journal: Wexford, CV Properties sign to buy 195 land for $6.6 million

projo wexford rendering

This article by Kate Bramson appeared in the Providence Journal on January 22, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The developers who hope to build a life-sciences complex on 5 acres of former highway land have taken a significant step forward by signing a purchase and sale agreement with the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to buy the two largest parcels of vacant highway land, the 195 Commission told The Providence Journal Friday morning.

Wexford Science + Technology of Baltimore and CV Properties LLC, of Boston and Southport, Conn., are proposing in the agreement to subdivide the land and buy it in three phases, according to the agreement. The purchase price that’s identified in the document is a calculation based on $15 per square feet of the real-estate term, Floor Area Ratio, for what would be built on the land in the first phase. Floor Area Ratio is the total square feet of a building divided by the total square feet of the lot where it’s located.

That price equals $6.6 million, 195 Commission Spokeswoman Dyana Koelsch told The Journal.

In all, the developers have agreed to buy the 5 acres, in three phases, for approximately $13 million, Koelsch said.

The 195 Commission said construction is expected to begin on the first phase by early 2017.

Expected development costs for the first phase are approximately $250 million, she said.

State and city leaders hailed the agreement as an important step forward in realizing the state’s goals for the highway land and Governor Raimondo’s vision for “an innovation economy.”

“Wexford and CV have created thriving life-science centers and leading research and development business environments around the country. Their decision to take this next step forward with Rhode Island is a big deal for our state and shows we have momentum,” Governor Raimondo said in a statement.

“This project has the potential to create many good-paying jobs for Rhode Islanders over the next few years. While there is still work to do, we remain relentless in our efforts to bring these jobs here and build an innovation economy in Rhode Island.”

The purchase and sale agreement is the result of months of negotiations between state leaders and the developers, who first announced intentions for the project in May. In December, the 195 Commission authorized Chairman Joseph F. Azrack and Executive Director Peter McNally to execute a draft purchase-and-sale agreement with CV and Wexford.

The development project would be the largest economic-development initiative in the state, and all parties acknowledge it will seek economic-development incentives created by the Raimondo administration. However, no details are immediately available Friday about how much the team might request from the state.

“Wexford and CV will apply for newly enacted state incentives designed to spark innovation and design development to create 21st century jobs,” the commission’s Friday statement said.

In the first phase of development, the CV-Wexford team expects to build about 500,000 square feet of mixed-use development that will encompass research and development, lab and office facilities, an innovation center, as well as restaurant and meeting facilities and a hotel and residential complex, the commission said in a statement.

The CV-Wexford team also intends to buy adjacent property, according to the purchase and sale agreement with the commission — One Ship Street, adjacent to Parcel 25 to the south, and 60 Clifford Street, now owned by Brown University and north of both Parcels 22 and 25. The 60 Clifford Street building has most recently been occupied by the former Nabsys life-sciences company.

The purchase and sale agreement includes a detailed development schedule for all three phases of the Project, beginning with a 90-day due-diligence period, followed by 180 days to obtain building permits leading to closing on Phase I, according to the 195 Commission.

Wexford Science + Technology is a real-estate investment and development company that partners with universities and hospitals across the country to build research parks. CV Properties is the lead developer of the shared nursing education center and Brown University administrative offices in the South Street Landing project, which is southeast and across Eddy Street from the 195 parcels the two now intend to buy.

The developers have been in talks with the Cambridge Innovation Center, Brown University and the University of Rhode Island as potential tenants for the life-sciences complex, but no tenants have yet been announced.

Richard A. Galvin, president and founder of CV Properties, issued a statement Friday about the purchase and sales agreement:

“We’re very pleased to have reached a purchase and sales agreement with the I-195 Commission. This is an exciting development and a critical step that will enable us to intensify the work of recruiting the tenants needed to make our proposed life sciences complex a reality. We’re hopeful that our work will be successful and allow us to realize the vision we share with the Governor and others in leveraging the former I-195 land to help spur growth in the innovation community, including the promising life sciences sector, while also creating new job opportunities for Rhode Islanders.”

CityWalk plan wins 2015 Honor Award for L+A Landscape Architecture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: At its biennial awards dinner on Thursday, December 10, at the Salvation Cafe in Newport, the Rhode Island Chapter of the America Society of Landscape Architects presented an Honor Award to L+A Landscape Architecture for their comprehensive plan for the urban pathway, CITY WALK, in Providence.

The RI ASLA Honor Award citation described the award winning project: “CITY WALK is a network of connected urban landscape spaces enhancing the everyday life of the city. In 2014, a landscape architecture study for this 7.8 mile route culminated seven years of advocacy to incorporate CITY WALK into municipal and neighborhood planning, which it has successfully accomplished. Two principles guide the ambition of CITY WALK: connect eight Providence neighborhoods via a network of pedestrian spaces/ bicycle routes and improve equitable access to urban assets.”

Accepting the award for Ron Henderson, Principal of L+A Landscape Architecture, were Phoebe Blake, CITY WALK co-chair, and Katherine Dana, for L+A.

L+A won a second RI ASLA Honor Award, for the Kiruna New Town Hall Square to be constructed in Karuna, Sweden. The town is being displaced by the world’s largest underground iron ore mine, 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Special Recognition was also given by the RI ASLA to The Gardens of Suzhou, a book by Ron Henderson in which he explores how a celebrated 11th through 19th century group of gardens in China can influence contemporary ideas on gardens and landscapes.

CITY WALK, now in development by a coalition of organizations spearheaded by the the Providence Foundation and the Jewelry District Association, aims to unite the city from Roger Williams Park across I-95 and the river to India Point Park. The plan incorporates existing streets and walks to create a walking/ biking pathway with points of interest and new urban spaces on its route across the city.

Working with the Providence Planning and Parks departments and supporting organizations, CITY WALK will capitalize on recent improvements on Broad St. and Elmwood Ave., revived streets in the Jewelry District and the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge with its adjoining riverside parks. CITY WALK has been adopted into the Providence Comprehensive Plan, Providence Tomorrow; the 195 Commission Developer’s Toolkit; and the City’s new outline for an urban future, Sustainable Providence.

L+A LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE. L+A was founded in Rhode Island in 2000 by Ron Henderson and currently practices in North America, Europe, and Asia. L+A designs site specific ecologies and landscapes across the broad range of expertise offered by landscape architects: parks, plazas, greenways, campus, green roofs, and urban design. In addition, L+A has been active in municipal and federal policy, transportation planning, and landscape preservation.

While primarily a design practice, L+A is also deeply engaged in education and research. Ron Henderson is Professor and Director of the Landscape Architecture Program at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago.

He was formerly Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Asian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University where he was also Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Stuckeman Chair in Integrative Design, and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture and Deputy Director of the International Master of Architecture Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He was inaugural faculty in both the Department of Landscape Architecture and the International Master of Architecture Program at Tsinghua and was the first international full-time faculty in the School of Architecture. He has also held visiting faculty appointments at Roger Williams University and Rhode Island School of Design.

L+A is located at 37 Touro Street on Washington Square, the historic and geographic heart of Newport, which dates from the colonial founding of Newport in 1639.

Trinity Square Receives $300,000 ArtPlace America Grant

July 13, 2015

$300,000 grant will fund “Illuminating Trinity” in Trinity Square; EmcArts to pilot “Community Innovation Lab” funded by Kresge Foundation

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza announced today that the City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism in partnership with Rhode Island LISC is among 38 recipients of ArtPlace America’s 2015 National Grants Program.

ArtPlace, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies dedicated to creative placemaking, is investing $300,000 in Providence to further integrate arts and culture into the field of community planning and development. The Department of Art, Culture + Tourism and RI-LISC will collaborate with a series of community partners to make improvements to Grace Church Cemetery and build capacity and programs at the Southside Cultural Center.

In addition the project includes a community engagement process that will develop strategies for change that involves all neighborhood stakeholders in improvements in the area. ArtPlace selected the City of Providence and RI LISC from a pool of nearly 1,300 applicants.

“I am excited to share this great news with our community. We have seen arts and culture transform our city and we know that cultural expression in our neighborhoods is just as important as in downtown,” said Mayor Elorza. “I am grateful ArtPlace America has decided to join our efforts by helping provide this opportunity to improve Trinity Square.”

“Investing in and supporting the arts have a profound impact on the social, physical, and economic futures of communities,” said ArtPlace executive director Jamie L. Bennett. “Projects like these demonstrate how imaginative and committed people are when it comes to enhancing their communities with creative interventions and thoughtful practices.”

Providence has also been selected as one of two U.S. cities to pilot the Community Innovation Lab framework, a new approach to solving tough social problems by deeply integrating artists and artistic experience into a rigorously designed and facilitated process. The Lab framework was developed by EmcArts, a nationally recognized service organization for adaptive change, to bring together the best from the fields of social innovation labs and creative placemaking. Focused on public safety in Trinity Square, the Lab will engage a diverse, cross-sector group of stakeholders, including city agencies, community organizers, nonprofit service providers, business leaders, artists and cultural organizations to co-create innovative strategies for systemic change.

Richard Evans, president of EmcArts, said: “We’re thrilled to be working alongside Mayor Elorza, RI-LISC, and the other partners to harvest the unique power of local artists and cultural workers to catalyze systemic change. Public safety is a complex problem. It requires questioning old assumptions, collaborating across boundaries, deep understanding of local system dynamics, and rehearsing many potential strategies for change. The Community Innovation Lab framework creates space for high-impact, creative solutions to emerge and builds a robust network of advocates to ensure that those strategies get implemented. With national support from the Kresge Foundation, the timing couldn’t be better to initiate a Lab in Providence.”

“We are so pleased to be partnering with the city on this initiative,” commented Jeanne Cola, executive director of Rhode Island LISC. “The funding from ArtPlace America is directly in line with a new initiative at LISC that is incorporating art and culture into our community development model, funded by the Kresge Foundation. We are thrilled that in addition to the ArtPlace funding we are investing more than $200,000 into this project over the next two years.”

“Rhode Island Housing is proud to invest in this collaborative effort that will continue the transformation of Trinity Square into a vibrant, livable centerpiece of the Elmwood neighborhood,” said Barbara Fields, executive director of Rhode Island Housing. “This effort builds on investments by Rhode Island Housing and our partners in recent years that have given families more safe, affordable places to live in Trinity Square. I applaud Mayor Elorza for bringing the arts into our neighborhoods through a thoughtful approach to community development.”

SWAP, under the leadership of executive director, Carla DeStefano, will be working with Grace Church to repair and improve the fencing around the cemetery. A team from Rhode Island School of Design will create a permanent lighting installation with the input of residents and businesses in the square.

“RISD is thrilled to be collaborating with the city and LISC,” noted Nancy Skolos, RISD’s Dean of Architecture + Design. “Guest faculty member Elettra Bordonaro has brought lighting projects to under-resourced communities internationally and recently here in Rhode Island through a course culminating in an installation by RISD students at Grace Church Cemetery. We look forward to being a part of this meaningful community project.”

The project includes a capacity-building initiative to enhance the work of resident culturally based organizations now working at the Southside Cultural center and immediate neighborhood. These organizations include RI Black Storytellers, RI Latino Arts, the Cambodian Society, the Laotian Society and ECAS Theater.

“We are thrilled to hear this news,” said Richardson Ogidan, executive director, Southside Cultural Center. “I have lived and worked in this community for close to 40 years. I have no doubt that the work we do this year will help us build model of collaboration. I’ve had a long term vision that this building would be a neighborhood anchor and this funding will help us get there.”

Lynne McCormack, director, Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism and Carrie Zaslow, program officer, RI LISC will be directing the project over the next 18 months.

“The National Grants Program is actively building a portfolio that touches each of the sectors and stakeholders that make up the community development field,” said ArtPlace’s Director of National Grantmaking F. Javier Torres. “Last year, ArtPlace developed a Community Development Matrix to help us better evaluate our success on this front. So, we’re thrilled that this year’s 38 grantees represent a dynamic spectrum of creative approaches and partnerships in community development that expand the dimensions of our portfolio.”

This year’s ArtPlace America grantees were selected from nearly 1,300 applicants across 48 states and the District of Columbia. Grants range from $50,000 to $500,000 with an average of $265,000.

“Each one of these grants supports a geographic community: a collection of people who live, work, and play within a defined circle on a map,” continued Torres. “In each case, a community development challenge or opportunity was identified by local stakeholders; and these 38 grantees are serving as conduits for their community’s desires by leading arts-based solutions through their projects.”

To read more about the project, visit http://www.artplaceamerica.org/grantee/illuminating-trinity. To view the complete list of 2015 ArtPlace grantees, go to www.artplaceamerica.org.

ArtPlace America is a ten-year collaboration of foundations, banks, and federal agencies that exists to position art and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric of communities. Visit www.artplaceamerica.org for more information.