Furthering its already significant contribution to the transformation of the Jewelry District, on December 12, Brown University purchased the 136,000 square feet of South Street Landing it has been leasing since 2017. Nearly 500 Brown administrative employees work on four floors of the once-derelict power station. Today, the building, which retains significant architectural details from its former use, is shared by Brown and the nursing schools of Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island.
Brown also announced that the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology will move to the Jewelry District in the autumn of 2025. The move will unite an exhibition and event space currently on the Brown campus and a facility in Bristol that houses most of the museum’s collections and staff. A newly renovated space at 1 Davol Square will offer public exhibitions and access for scholars to the museum’s nearly one million ethnographic objects, archaeological specimens, and images representing human cultures and societies. Robert Preucel, director of the Haffenreffer Museum and a professor of anthropology at Brown, said the move will “open up a host of new possibilities for scholarship, community outreach, and partnership with Indigenous communities worldwide.”
As the evolution of the district brings these exciting new facilities, businesses, lab space, and apartment buildings, the Jewelry District Association (JDA) continues to monitor and comment on issues before the city’s licensing, zoning, and design boards and commissions with the goal of redeveloping the district as a great place to live, work, and play. The JDA is determined to ensure that the days of what someone called, “a wasteland of trash-strewn parking lots and the worst kind of nightclubs”
are gone forever.
The Fox Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA) have been heavily involved with the activities of 195 Commission, the quasi-public state agency responsible for overseeing the development of the former 195 land. In mid-December, the commission made decisions on two projects located on the eastern edge of the Van Leesten Bridge in Fox Point: to approve the final design for the residential/mixed-use development that is slated to be built on Parcel 2 (the former site of the sunflower installations) and to choose a developer to build on Parcel 1a, the strip of land located at the current site of the Providence Flea.
Parcel 1a was the most controversial issue of the December meeting. All of the neighbor-advocates who spoke at the meeting and a majority of members of the public who offered testimony at the previous meeting pleaded with commissioners to build nothing on Parcel 1a, suggesting that this segment of the riverwalk, which is situated in the so-called “green necklace,” should be preserved for public use. “Developing this strip will have very little impact on your bottom line,” FPNA president Lily Bogosian suggested during the public session, “but it will have a huge impact on the area… by selling out the most environmentally beautiful walkway on the entire [Providence] River and in Providence.” The commission voted to build on the land; it awarded the project to Riverside Partners, a development firm that proposes a six-story building with 10 residential units and first-floor retail space.
Over 75 people representing a broad coalition of community organizations and legislators gathered in Kennedy Plaza on November 30 for a press conference announcing the Save RIPTA coalition, an effort to urge Governor Daniel McKee to fully fund RIPTA (Rhode Island Public Transit Authority), which runs the statewide public bus system, in the upcoming Rhode Island state budget. Lead organizer Liza Burkin and Providence Student Union member Dexter Vincent – both Elmwood neighbors – lent their voices and reasons for the full support of RIPTA.
Among recent Providence city council updates, councilors unanimously passed a new requirement to track energy use in large Providence Buildings. The Building Energy Reporting Program, or “BERO” as it is known, would create and establish a publicly disclosed database for tracking energy use, in an ordinance sponsored by Councilor Sue AnderBois (Ward 3).
Councilors also passed a resolution calling for the city to strengthen the prevention of ride-share bikes and scooters from being dumped on sidewalks and blocking handicapped accessible ramps. The resolution acknowledges the importance and accessibility of these shared micro-mobility programs but calls on the city’s future and current permitted providers to prevent the public safety hazard of poorly parked bikes and scooters. Additionally, an ordinance amendment was introduced to ensure Providence takes meaningful steps to achieve carbon neutrality in all municipal buildings by 2040. The amendment encourages the use of electricity and energy-efficient upgrades, and was referred to the Special Committee on Environment and Resiliency.
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