Last week’s 4-day Providence Waterfront Charrette proved to be an excellent forum for educating city officials and the public about the value of working waterfronts and how to best protect these resources through appropriate zoning. Highlights from the charrette:

  • Near unanimous opposition from invited experts and neighborhood organizations to allowing residential condominiums along the waterfront. This sentiment was perfectly captured by the Providence Journal headline, “Housing on city waterfront rejected at charrette.”
  • An economic impact study conducted by FXM Associates found that just 7 water-dependent and industrial businesses operating in the Allens Ave. area are responsible for $294,000,000 in annual business sales and employ 372 workers with average salary and health benefits of roughly $60,000 per year.
  • Planners from Baltimore, Boston, and Portland all explained that “mixed use” does not mean placing condos and hotels right next to water-dependent industrial users. Instead, each of these ports has created extensive areas devoted exclusively to marine industrial uses. These areas are then buffered from more mixed use neighborhoods where residential, commercial office, and retail are encouraged. The best example of this is Baltimore where their inner-harbor is mixed use, but their 1,000+ acre outer harbor area is reserved exclusively for marine industrial uses.
  • Widespread support for the creation of a Rhode Island Port Authority or similar entity to protect and promote Rhode Island’s ports. This entity could also help develop policies (like a gross tonnage tax) to help compensate host communities for housing port infrastructure that benefits the entire region.
  • Near unanimous support for developing the former Shooters property along the India Point waterfront as a public recreation destination, not a residential condo tower.

Media Coverage

Local Blog Coverage

Charrette Photos

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend to support Providence’s working waterfront!

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