Providence mayoral candidate Vincent A. Cianci, Jr. today unveiled his vision for the future of the 346 acres of waterfront property along Allens Avenue in the capital city as a mixed-use expanse stretching from the Port of Providence to Field’s Point.
He was joined by Councilman Luis Aponte, and Mark Mendell and Sebastian Martellotto of Cannon Design, a leading international design firm with 16 offices from Boston to Shanghai, engaged by the Cianci Campaign to work on the vision for the new Allens Avenue waterfront.
Cianci said, “I want to state emphatically that I am in favor of our working waterfront. In fact, my plan calls for an expansion of the working waterfront south of Thurbers Avenue, to reserve 284 acres, or 82 percent of the total stretch of land, for industrial and water-dependent uses.”
The remaining 18 percent, or 62 acres, all situated north of Thurbers Avenue, would be open for mixed-use development.
“My vision for the waterfront could generate $20 million in new tax revenue from the 62 acres of mixed-use development, as opposed to the well under a million dollars in tax revenue currently realized from this area,” Cianci stated. “With so much property off of our tax rolls, it is critical that we seek new sources of revenue whenever possible. With the Knowledge District poised to grow just north of the bay and an expanding hospital campus to the west, the waterfront north of Thurbers Avenue is the obvious place to plan for much-needed growth.”
The vision for a new Allens Avenue waterfront includes medical research facilities linked to the Lifespan campus, a 200-slip marina and possibly a maritime museum, an extended stay hotel linked to the hospital campus, and large open space to accommodate soccer fields, waterfront and ethnic festivals, and other gatherings.
Cianci said that Providence would be missing the boat in not positioning the city as a terminus for cruise ship visits. “With Providence as a terminus for cruise ships and not merely a stop along the route, we would gain additional hotel, transportation and air travel income as passengers fly into the capital city to embark at our waterfront,” he said. “Targeted marketing could also entice cruise ship passengers to remain in Providence for an extended stay, increasing revenues even further for retailers, restaurants, and associated businesses.”
Cianci said that with many jobs generated by a larger working Port and new development, he will ensure, if elected, that residents on the South Side are given preference for these new jobs by providing technical training if needed, and by hosting job fairs on the South Side in conjunction with local community groups. “This is not only good for our economy, our environment, and our tax base,” he stated. “It is also a question of economic justice for the people of the South Side. For too long this section of the city has been a convenient dumping spot for relocated scrap yards, polluting industries, strip clubs and other uses not wanted in other neighborhoods of the city. The residents of the neighborhoods overlooking this waterside scar on our landscape deserve more, and I intend, if elected, to provide them with the opportunity for a better life and, in the process, reenergize our local economy.”
Cianci said that he would work with all stakeholders to initiate the rebirth of the Allens Avenue waterfront and outlined the following specific actions.
1. I will immediately ask the City Council to suspend action on the proposed ordinance to amend the city zoning regulations to restrict mixed-use development along the area of Allens Avenue north of Thurber’s Avenue until a new mayor is chosen by the electorate.
2. I also call upon National Grid, who currently owns a key parcel on the waterfront containing a coastal cruise ship dock, to suspend their sale of the property until a new mayor is chosen.
3. If elected, I will convene a meeting of senior planning staff, the Providence Redevelopment Agency, council members from the south side, and representatives from the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and the Providence Foundation to review prior plans for the waterfront (Sasaki & Providence Tomorrow) with a view towards implementing the basic vision outlined therein.
4. I would meet with waterfront stakeholders including National Grid, who retains ownership of two key parcels of vacant land, and ProvPort, who I will work with to expand opportunities to better position the port for growth.
5. I will direct Planning staff to begin identifying federal, state and other funding sources for land acquisition and development. Other cities have made effective use of federal brownfields, HUD, Economic Development Administration (EDA), and other funding sources to provide seed funds to spur private investment. We should do the same.
“This plan for the mixed use of our waterfront is the collaborative vision of many government officials, planners, local businessmen and women, and the many concerned citizens who provided input and participated in a lengthy series of community meetings to re-envision the Allens Avenue waterfront,” Cianci stated. “If given the opportunity, I will work with all stakeholders to transform this area. The only option not on the table is our surrender to a continuation of the politics of the last decade—governance made notable for its posturing without progress, viewpoint without vision, and rhetoric without results. With vision, private sector participation, and replacing divisive confrontation with collaboration, we can make this portion of our waterfront the showcase that it deserves to be."