A few days ago I received, at my request, the latest iteration of plans for a large development on the east embankment of the Providence River by the Carpionato Group. The company had made a presentation of its plan to the Jewelry District Association back in January. I discussed that plan here, and its original proposal from 2013 here. It is apparently now called “The Row at College Hill,” even though it’s really in Fox Point.
Carpionato’s president, Kelly Coates, asked me in January to withhold from this blog images of his presentation to the JDA, which I did, expecting to run those illustrations after the firm presented them to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission. But I waited and waited, and finally asked what had happened. So then they sent the images. What I got the other day was a somewhat different set of plans from those presented in January.
The project remains extraordinary in terms of comparison with other projects arising in the 195 district. The rest are all modernist, intrinsically alienating to most people, whereas the Carpionato designs for the east embankment are, in the main, highly traditional and likely to be popular with most users. But the latest version exhibits a watering down – cost cutting, no doubt – from the January plan, which had evolved considerably from the original design proposed in 2013. Its roofs are flatter even than they’d become by January, and it seems to have grown in square footage, necessitating a blockier massing of buildings, though little or no evident increase in their height. Square footage has grown from about 421,500 in January to 480,000 today. Some subtle changes in detailing are also evident, although you can’t be sure that’s not because a different illustrator was used (unidentified in any of the sets of documents emailed to me).
Atop this post is the latest rendering, which is shown again below as part of a progression that stretches from 2013 to January to now. After that is a pair of axonometric sketches from 2013 to now. From these you can judge the extent of the changes so far. While still far superior to every other plan submitted to and approved by the I-195 commission, the recent direction of design evolution is regrettable – so far, in a relatively minor way.
As always, God (or the devil) is in the details.
(The Jewelry District Association will host an update this project and others in the Route 195 corridor (including the results of the JDA survey on the Fane tower) in a meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, at South Street Landing. The Carpionato project and two new proposals I’ve never heard of before – Spenser Providence and Post Road Residential, whatever they are – will come before the I-195 commission a day later, at its meeting at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, at its headquarters on Iron Horse Way.)
Again, the sets of images below proceed from the original to the latest:
Axonometric sketches from the original to the latest available (in January):
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Like Tapestry said, Carpionato has one heck of a record of making grand plans and then doing absolutely nothing for ten, maybe fifteen years, except for putting in a surface parking lot. So, I will be taking anything they are presenting with a MASSIVE grain of salt. It’s good to see the overpasses dropped from their plans. Those are just terribly offensive to creating any sort of pleasant street environment.
That said, I’m very skeptical of South Water street being a successful retail street. Any retail consultant will tell you that a one-sided retail row should be avoided (unless there is a field of parking in front, of course). South Main should be the retail street in order to link the South Main business district to the Wickenden business district.
Right. And I agree with you about South Water as a retail venue. Note also that the stretch of residential buildings east of South Main seems to have disappeared altogether since 2013.
Yes, that’s not even 195 land, so showing development to the east of South Main was always a bit of a stretch. We can dream, however, that those parking lots are not long for this world!
I am having a hard time visualizing this now – but as one planner in a city I do not live in says – with a lilt – Carpionato? They show you plans, then they do whatever they want. Gives one no hope that “the people” have a say.
Yes, Nancy, very sad. Except for the one in Cranston, they seem to have struck out on every development at-bat they’ve tried in Providence.
You are right Dave, it’s on conceptualization Compared to the traditional impression of the project. What happened with the 15 story plan for an additional building at the last DRC? Thank you Dave
Sent from my iPhone
I think, Stan, you are referring to the second building proposed on Canal Street, the first being called Edge College Hill (under construction) and the second Edge College Hill II, I think. I believe it has proposed a smaller footprint and a couple fewer floors but I’m not sure at what stage of review it’s at now.