By now many will have noticed the growing pile of scrap metal (and who knows what else) in the hospital adjacent waterfront on Allens Avenue. The sale of Promet to the burgeoning junkyard leaves the city and the city’s taxpayers with even fewer options for development.“I think the energy [for rezoning] has left the room – people are much more concerned about what may or not happen” with land freed up by the rerouting of Interstate 195 through the city, said Providence City Councilor Luis Aponte, who represents Ward 10 and has supported waterfront rezoning. “I still think it should be part of the plan, although I don’t know how attractive it will be with scrap there.”And the potential for growth is there. Excitement over the land freed by the relocation of 195 is growing, but the available space is limited.That environment attracted Anne De Groot and her medical-research company, EpiVax, to the neighborhood eight years ago. Now with a growing company, EpiVax needs more space.
“I’m all totally about being in the Jewelry District,” De Groot said. “Somebody build me a building, I’ll move in.”
Economic-development officials want more of her kind.
When was the last time you heard that from a Rhode Island business owner? But EDC director Stokes notes that when that space is gone, Providence is out of the picture, saying “the state will encourage businesses to set up in nearby places such as Pawtucket.” Lovely.
With Mayor Taveras claiming the need for cuts to workers’ pensions to deal with the city’s “category 5” fiscal crisis, one has to wonder why these industrial concerns should be allowed to continue to limit higher density uses and their potential for much needed property tax revenue. Let’s not forget the spurned proposal for a $400 million dollar investment in the city and the 2,000 desperately needed, permanent jobs that development promised. The proposal included plans for a hotel “[serving] families of patients at the 250-bed acute-care facility as well as passengers preparing to board cruise ships” at a new terminal, along with“a small amount of retail, a floating restaurant and public walkways.”
Just this week, PBN noted the “near-record numbers” for the cruise ship industry in Southern New England, a development seized on by other cities in the region and still a possibility for the deepwater slips on Allens (something New Bedford lacks).
In New Bedford, which has been trying to add the cruise industry to its traditional maritime portfolio of seafood and freight, the number of cruise visits jumped from 17 last year to 27 this year, said Kristin Decas, executive director of the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission.
“We had a stellar year,” said Decas, who attributed some of the new popularity of the port to the Whaling City Expeditions harbor tours many cruise visitors enjoy. “They jump on our small excursion vessel and do a harbor tour. We entertain them with a narrative of the fishing industry and how it is No. 1 in the country in terms of value of catch”…
In the last two years, American Cruise Lines has used Providence Piers on Allens Avenue as either a starting or ending point for 26 of its New England cruises.
The line has a deal with Providence Piers running through 2017 that pier owner Patrick Conley said this year was evidence that Providence, with its deep water and cultural attractions, could attract thousands more cruise-ship visitors each year if it were positioned right.
“To use an inappropriate metaphor, this cruise line could be just the tip of the iceberg for the Port of Providence as a tourist destination,” Conley said.
Instead we get the glistening “Mt. Taveras” (pictured) as our welcoming waterfront gateway to the Capital City.