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Developer hopes to build hotel on Brook Street

Providence real-estate mogul Ed Bishop '54 P'86 P'91 wants to build a $35 million luxury hotel on Brook Street with easy access to campus and Thayer Street businesses and is attempting to get his proposal approved by the Providence City Planning Commission.

Creating a large hotel on College Hill has been a "dream of mine for 40 years now," Bishop said, adding that "Brown is the only Ivy without a luxury hotel on its campus."

Before he can move forward with the plan, the commission must allow zoning codes for a stretch of houses that he owns on Brook to be converted from residential to commercial. Bishop had planned to present his proposal at the commission's October meeting but was not given space on the agenda, he said. He hopes to begin discussions at a future meeting.

Members of the planning commission did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
In addition to expanding the hospitality market during University events such as Family Weekend and Commencement, the hotel would provide rooms for visiting and prospective faculty, he said.

"Every faculty member who comes to the Brown community needs a place to stay, and they want to be in walking distance of their respective department," Bishop said. The new hotel would provide an alternative to the Saunders Inn at Brown in Gregorian Quadrangle, he added.

Bishop emphasized the potential commercial advantages of the hotel for Thayer Street businesses. The hotel and a 125-car parking garage that is included in the plan would draw more people to the area and allow businesses other than restaurants and bars to succeed, he said.

The hotel would also help stimulate the city's lagging economy by creating 50 new jobs and increasing tax revenue, Bishop said.

"The city is broke, like it or not, and we don't have a job base anymore," he said.
This is not the first time Bishop has made such a proposal. In 2004, the College Hill Neighborhood Association, of which Bishop is now a member, voted 6-2 to oppose a similar plan for a Brook Street hotel, he said.

Concern among community members has been a recurring issue, said Antoinette Breed, a local resident and former treasurer of the neighborhood association.

"My concern is that Thayer Street has no access to a highway, so all construction vehicles would have to pass through the neighborhood," Breed said. "Once construction ended, there would still be service vehicles and cars of guests that passed through the neighborhood."

Bishop said he expects to bring his proposal before the commission in the next few months, and does not expect approval to come easily.

"This is a war that is just about to get started," he said.


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