May 2, 2012 – Providence, RI – Despite serious economic challenges – or perhaps because of them – there is innovation and success occurring throughout Rhode Island that’s helping it play more effectively to its strengths, generate sustainable economic benefits and improve communities and neighborhoods in the process.
At its 4th biennial Power of Place Summit, to be held at the Rhode Island Convention Center on Friday, May 11th, Grow Smart Rhode Island will recognize and celebrate three inspiring leaders, five transformative projects and four visionary and resource-efficient plans for future growth and development.
The Smart Growth Awards, which will be presented during the Summit luncheon, are part of the day-long conference which brings together approximately 500 state and local officials, business and civic leaders, developers, real estate professionals, planners, farmers, architects, engineers and everyday residents who care about the state’s future economy and the kind of place being left to the next generation.
The Summit will examine in depth how Rhode Island can best use its assets to jump start its economy. Nationally recognized developer and urban revitalization expert, Chris Leinberger will deliver the keynote address: How 21st century development trends can be a competitive advantage for Rhode Island.
The 2012 Smart Growth Awards:
Outstanding Smart Growth Leaders
Arnold “Buff” and Johnnie Chace
Buff and Johnnie Chace lead by example. Their commitment to the principles of smart growth and new urbanism is most evident in the transformation of Providence’s Downcity neighborhood, where Cornish Associates has completed the adaptive reuse of seven key buildings into 200 rental apartments, 40,000 SF of retail space and 27,000 SF of office space. Johnnie has also reinforced the critical role that active public spaces, parks and gardens play in building community through her service on the Board of the South Side Community Land Trust and the Urban Agricultural Task Force and on the recently formed Greater Kennedy Plaza/Downtown Parks Conservancy Board.
Representative Jeremiah O’Grady
Elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, Representative Jay O’Grady has proven to be a passionate leader for numerous smart growth policy reforms at the State House, including the push for reinstatement of the State Historic Tax Credit program, amendment of the State Zoning Enabling Act making it easier for investors to redevelop mixed-use neighborhoods, transportation funding reform to sustain and enhance mass transit and amendment of the state’s property tax levy cap law to facilitate municipal investment in targeted Main Street districts. Rep. O’Grady exemplifies the emerging generation of young leaders proposing creative solutions to advance economic prosperity and quality of place.
Outstanding Smart Growth Projects
Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket
Hope Artiste Village, one of Rhode Island’s largest successful mill rehabilitation projects made possible by the State Historic Tax Credit, fosters collaboration and innovation among a diverse community of creative professionals. Located in Pawtucket with easy access to I-95 and just minutes from downtown Providence, the once-vacant mill complex is now home to nearly 100 commercial tenants including a dynamic mix of art studios, live/work lofts, retail shops, light industrial workshops and professional office suites. This thriving mill space boasts a coffee shop, music venue, theater, fitness studios, designers, artisans, event spaces, the Rhode Island Music Hall of fame and a bustling wintertime farmer’s market.
Moran Shipping Agencies Corporate Headquarters, Providence
Established in 1937, Moran Shipping Agencies is a family-owned company that maintained its corporate headquarters in Rhode Island, even as the firm opened offices in other US port cities and overseas. By 2006, anticipating a need for more space, the company was seriously considering relocation to another state, but decided instead to rehabilitate the former Rhode Island Medical Society building on Francis Street in downtown Providence as its new corporate headquarters. Assisted by Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, Moran preserved the landmark historic building and created an energy efficient, sustainable and healthy work environment for its employees.
Sandywoods Farm, Tiverton
Sandywoods Farm demonstrates that with public-private collaboration and context-sensitive design, a mixed-use project can create affordable housing and other public amenities while protecting a community’s rural character. Developed on an agricultural parcel in northeast Tiverton, the Church Community Housing Corporation project used conservation development zoning to protect working farmland while providing 50 units of rental housing for low and moderate income households. It also incorporates facilities that benefit the town as a whole: a community garden and orchard, an incubator commercial kitchen, meeting room/performance center, gallery and shared studio space and a wind turbine providing alternative energy.
Stillwater Mill, Burrillville
In 2006, the town of Burrillville pursued and received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to kick-start the redevelopment of the vacant Stillwater Mill Complex in the heart of Harrisville Village. The goals of the multi-phase redevelopment project were to preserve the best of the original mill buildings and re-purpose the site into a live/work complex linked by a common road system, shared parking and a pedestrian circulation system. Today the completed project includes 47 mixed-income apartments, two office suites and a new 25,000 square-foot library. By reusing an abandoned mill complex located on a polluted brownfield site, the project stands today as a beacon for revitalizing Rhode Island’s many underutilized mill villages.
The Mercantile Block, Providence
In 2010, the 25-year-old arts collective AS220 undertook the conversion of a 50,000 SF historic commercial building, The Mercantile Block, on Washington Street in Downtown Providence. Assisted by Federal and State Historic Tax Credits and affordable housing subsidies, the project created 22 units of affordable apartments for artists, 11 work studios and 10,000 SF of retail space. The Mercantile Block is now a place where artists live, work and collaborate. Especially noteworthy is the transformation of the block’s back alley into a vibrant pedestrian way that animates the neighborhood and enhances safety.
Outstanding Smart Growth Policies and Plans
Aquidneck Island Transportation Study
The Aquidneck Island Transportation Study, completed in July, 2011, is a comprehensive multi-modal transportation master plan that effectively integrates regional transportation and land-use planning and serves as an excellent model for other regions of the state. Developed through an inclusive public process, the plan encompasses all transportation modes (pedestrian/bike, auto, transit, ferry and rail) and recommends intermodal connection improvements consistent with sound land use planning. The goals were to improve mobility, mode choice and safety while enhancing economic opportunity, environmental protection and quality of life. The plan includes 25 major short, mid and long-term improvements that are already being incorporated into municipal and state capital improvement plans.
Pawtucket Downtown Design Plan
The Pawtucket Downtown Design Plan – a collaborative undertaking that included the city, Statewide Planning, RIPTA, RIDOT, the local business community and numerous downtown stakeholders and property owners – exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships to effect significant change. The study has already resulted in a revised downtown zoning code, a matrix of capital infrastructure projects and an innovative parking management strategy for downtown Pawtucket. The project details five major components that integrate transportation, land use and riverfront development. The plan includes nearly two dozen short and long-term capital projects that have already been included in the city’s list of priorities for the state Transportation Improvement Program. Its recommended changes to the downtown commercial district zoning code were also unanimously supported and adopted by the Pawtucket City Council.
Town of North Kingstown / Quonset Development Corporation Agreement
The Town of North Kingstown/Quonset Development Corporation Agreement is a model of smart growth collaboration between two agencies that, for many years, operated at odds with one another. In just over a year, the Town and the QDC forged binding agreements and leveraged millions of dollars of investment at levels that would typically require over a decade of negotiation. Massive reforms to the North Kingstown Local Comprehensive Plan and the land use regulations for both the Town and QDC created a unified approach to developing QDC land as well as an agreement for shared infrastructure that will unlock the mixed-use redevelopment potential of the Post Road Corridor.
Warwick Station Development District Plan
The vision of the Master Plan for the Warwick Station Development District is to transform the 95 acres surrounding T.F. Green Airport and the InterLink intermodal transportation facility into a mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented “growth center” taking full advantage of the districts many assets. The Master Plan creates a framework to accommodate 1.5 million SF of ground-floor retail, office and mixed-income housing. The plan and accompanying zoning ordinances are designed to leverage the existing public investment in expanded commuter rail with the development of a sustainable and attractive live/work environment that generates new economic activity, jobs and an improved quality of place.
Complete information about the Summit, including registration information is available at growsmartri.org.