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City Council to vote on Hope Point Tower

Council to vote on zoning change for height restrictions for proposed Hope Point Tower

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, November 9, 2018

Following two public hearings on the proposed Hope Point Tower project, the Providence Committee on Ordinances voted Thursday night to open the project to a full City Council vote.

The Hope Point Tower is a 600-foot-tall luxury apartment complex slated to be built on former I-195 land downtown. If the tower receives the necessary zoning approval from the City Council, it will be the tallest building in Providence and the tallest residential tower in New England.

As early as next Thursday, the City Council could vote on whether to approve the proposal.  Out-of-state developer Jason Fane hopes to build the tower on a parcel of land zoned for 100-foot-tall buildings — a restriction created three years ago under a city-wide, comprehensive zoning plan.

The ordinances committee’s recommendation to approve the plan came down to a three-to-one vote.

Throughout the meeting, Ward 13 Councilperson Bryan Principe — who voted against the zoning change — voiced frustration with the proposal, saying that it did not comply with the comprehensive plan’s guidelines.

“We’re sticking it to developers,” Principe said, explaining that other development projects have had to follow the comprehensive zoning rules. “We’re saying to everybody else, ‘We’re for sale.’”

Ward 5 Councilperson Jo-Ann Ryan, who voted to move the proposal forward, disagreed.

“We need to say to other developers, ‘We’re here, and we’re open for business,’” Ryan said, calling the project a “once-in-a-decade opportunity.” Ryan voiced support for the tower because of its potential to create jobs, a proposition that drew laughter from some in the audience.

Thursday night’s meeting was not a public hearing but an opportunity for the ordinance committee to discuss the tower and vote on whether to move the proposal forward. The event drew supporters and protesters in smaller numbers than previous meetings had.

Jeffrey Padwa, one of the Fane Organization’s lawyers, attempted to submit additional information for consideration by the committee. But Providence lawyer Nicole Martucci objected to Padwa’s prolonged speech since public hearings on the matter had already been closed.

After the meeting, Ward 12 Councilperson Terence Hassett told The Herald that projects like the construction of Providence Place Mall and the renovation of the Masonic Lodge had faced similar opposition during their approval processes but had later proved successful.

Hassett, who plans to retire in December, said that he wanted to move the project forward before he left office.

“I didn’t want to walk away from this,” he said, adding that he supported the proposal’s ability to create union jobs.

The Fane Organization’s team was pleased by the results. “We’re gratified that we received the support of the Ordinance Committee,” Dante Bellini, Fane’s spokesperson said, adding that he is looking forward to next week’s vote.