Providence

At packed meeting, developer looks for council approval of high-rise plan

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- For the first time since the plan was introduced, developer Jason Fane addressed the Providence City Council about his proposed "Hope Point Tower" that would drastically change the city's skyline.

In a packed meeting at Providence City Hall, Fane revealed new renderings of the tower, showing its size compared to other notable buildings in the city.

If approved, Fane's proposed 530-foot high-end apartment tower would become the tallest building in Rhode Island. It would be located on Dyer Street on the old I-195 land.

Fane's tower proposal has had several setbacks since he first came forward with it in 2016. He originally proposed building a trio of towers on the land, but scaled it back to a single tower late last year.

In Providence, the zoning ordinance only allows building heights of 130 feet in the area of the city where the tower would be built. This means the city council would need to approve a zoning change before the $300 million project could proceed.

The City Council Ordinance Committee heard testimony back in September, both for and against the project, before making a recommendation to deny the zoning change. The full council sent it back to the committee until Fane and his associates could pitch the project to the city council themselves.

On Monday, Fane said the project would introduce housing, access, jobs and economic growth to the city of Providence.

"If the city council approves our zoning application the tower would provide four important benefits to Providence and Rhode Island: housing, taxes jobs and economic growth," Fane explained.

He said he would love to see residents start moving into the tower by 2022, but emphasized that he needs the council's support to move forward.

The public testimony that followed Fane's presentation was mixed. Some said they believe the project would be an economic shot in the arm for the city, but others think it will be an out of place eyesore. 

"I'm opposed to the current height of the project and have concerns over the style of the project not matching the historic architecture of our city, however, we should not say no because of the current design shortcomings," Providence mayoral candidate Dee Dee Witman said.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring a project and bring massive jobs for the people we represent," Michael Sabitoni of the RI Building & Construction Trades Council explained. Laborers packed City Hall Monday night prior to the meeting to show their support for the project. 

"I support smart development, the Fox Point Neighborhood Association supports smart development. This tower is in the wrong location," Amy Mendillo of the Fox Point Neighborhood Association added.

The committee did not cast a vote on the zoning change Monday night, but a spokesman for the council says the Committee will take it up again in the future to decide whether or not to send it to the full council.


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