The I-195 Commission last night gave Level 2 approval for Ithaca NY real estate mogul Jason Fane‘s Hope Point Tower. Level 2 approval means that Fane can now approach the Providence City Council to ask for changes in local ordinances since the building is taller than presently allowed. Fane will also have to petition the Rhode Island General Assembly to allow his tower to exceed the size of the parcel of land he wants to build on, which will cause a neighboring park to be much smaller than planned.
If built, Hope Point Tower would be the tallest building in the state and it would be 1/3rd of a mile away from the next tallest building, leaving a wide gap in the Providence skyline.
During the public comment phase of the meeting it became apparent that building trade unions are in full support of the project. Nearly 1000 workers will be employed for a year building the tower. The public was less enthused about the project. Most seemed to think that the building was out of character for Providence and they doubted Fane’s rosy financing numbers.
Fane’s financial projections were brought into serious questions by Real Estate Solutions (RES), who analyzed the project for the I-195 Commission and came to very different conclusions about the viability of Hope Point Tower. RES noted that Fane’s residential units seem to have priced themselves out of the market, noting that no unit in Rhode Island has sold for as much as what Fane wants people to pay. In addition, 2000 residential units similar to those on offer from Fane are due to enter the market in the time it will take to build Hope Point Tower.
The biggest housing issue in Providence is the lack of affordable housing, and Fane has no plans to address that issue with this project. Instead, Fane is gambling that there will be a brand new market for high priced housing in Providence says RES.
Fane referred to the RES report as “pathological pessimism.”
The RES report seemed to have little impact on the I-195 Commission, as they voted 5-1 to allow the project to proceed. Only commission member Melissa Husband voted against.
Below is all the video from last night’s 3 hour meeting.
Jeffrey Padwa is local legal council for Fane.
The architect, “Johnny” explains the new project.
Questions for the architect.
Jason Fane addresses the I-195 Commission.
I-195 Commission chair Joseph Azrack addresses the commission, explaining the history of the Fane project.
Real Estate Solutions presents their analysis.
Questions for Real Estate Solutions
Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor thanks Jason Fane for gracing Rhode Island with his presence.
Here’s all the public commentary, in order, broken down by speaker.
Here is the rather long discussion the I-195 Commission held that led to a seemingly pre-determined vote to grant Level 2 approval.