Grow Smart RI is proud to present the 2016 Rhode Island Smart Growth Award Winners
Those credited with shaping a stronger Rhode Island to be recognized at June 21st Power of Place Summit
The Rhode Island Smart Growth awards recognize those helping to shape a stronger community through innovative revitalization and preservation initiatives.
The awards will be presented on Tuesday, June 21st at a luncheon during Grow Smart RI’s Power of Place Summit before a gathering of up to 500 business, civic and government leaders, development and real estate professionals, architects, builders, farmers, conservationists, policy advocates and a multitude of community stakeholders from across Rhode Island and New England.
“Each year, passionate, creative and resourceful Rhode Islanders show us the way to tap our state’s full potential through projects, plans and policies that play to Rhode Island’s strengths and generate enduring economic benefits, both statewide and in specific neighborhoods”, said Grow Smart’s Executive Director Scott Wolf.
This year’s awards will recognize two inspiring leaders, four transformative smart growth projects and one visionary policy initiative to encourage smart growth and address barriers to downtown redevelopment.
Outstanding Smart Growth Leaders
NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
For thirty years, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (“NWBRV”) has been a force for neighborhood revitalization in the communities of the Blackstone Valley using smart growth principles. NWBRV has set a standard for comprehensive community development by developing nearly 400 affordable apartments and homes for low-income families, 16,500 square feet of community facilities and 34,200 square feet of commercial space. From Constitution Hill in Woonsocket to suburban Burrillville and North Smithfield, with fierce determination, NWBRV has used the most fundamental of smart growth principles—transforming existing assets into homes and community facilities–while preserving open space and often using innovative energy sources. At the helm of the organization for over 20 years is the extraordinarily dedicated Joseph F. Garlick, Jr., whose vision and community development savvy has consistently made the seemingly impossible become reality.
The Providence Foundation
Formed in 1974, the Providence Foundation took on the naysayers who had already written the City’s obituary to become a force for the transformation and revitalization of downtown Providence. Under the leadership of Dan Baudouin for more than 20 years and supported by 140 of the leading companies and institutions in Rhode Island, the Providence Foundation has been a consistent leader through eight city administrations as an advocate for difficult, but necessary projects. Its leadership of innovative public-private partnerships led to the dynamic landscape we know today, including the Capital Center District, WaterPlace Park, the relocation of I-195 and railroad tracks, the Convention Center, Providence Place Mall, a revitalized Westminster Street and a restored PPAC. All of these initiatives, in which the Foundation worked closely with city, state and federal governments, now serve as the backdrop to the City’s national accolades of “Best Small City in America” by Architectural Digest; “America’s Favorite City” by Travel & Leisure Magazine; and “America’s Coolest City” by GQ Magazine.
Outstanding Smart Growth Projects
Fred Lippitt Woonasquatucket River Greenway
First envisioned by Fred Lippitt, Jane Sherman and the Providence Plan in the early 1990s, the concept of a bikeway along the Woonasquatucket River–linking some of the most challenged Providence neighborhoods–was met with skepticism to say the least. Undeterred, together with the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, the herculean effort of getting many agencies to work together to complete a 2.7 mile off-road bikeway from Olneyville to Johnston was completed in 2007. Today, the Greenway has expanded to 7 miles on and off road and thousands of bicyclists use it, which has gone on to spur other public investments for new parks and recreational resources. Bike Camp, historic tours, paddle tours, canoe trips, neighborhood festivals, and the River Rangers—all Council programs—ensure that the Greenway is activated and maintained on a regular basis. But more than a bikeway, the Greenway has helped affirm the Providence neighborhoods it connects and has become a model for public investment to help revitalize urban neighborhoods.
The Foundry Corporate Office Center and Promenade Apartments
Fully occupied for the first time since the early 1960s, the former Brown & Sharpe manufacturing complex, is now home to more than 50 companies and 2,000 employees in 500,000 square feet of high-end office space, with an additional 433 luxury apartments, all within walking distance of downtown Providence. The Foundry Corporate Office Center and Promenade Apartments is a highly-visible testimony to the smart growth principles re-shaping RI’s urban core. The recent $53 million renovation of the Sharpe Building is the culmination of the nearly five decade transformation of the 25-acre, 13-building revitalization project completed by the Guerra family that blazed the trail for historic mill refurbishments throughout the State. In addition to re-use of existing infrastructure and promotion of walkable neighborhoods, the success of the project is rooted in adherence to historic preservation and environmental protection. The importance of this project to the City and State was underscored by public-private-partnerships that were secured to ensure successful completion and long-term viability.
Providence Community Health Centers
Providence Community Health Centers has, for over 40 years, provided medical care to 20% of Providence residents within a network of seven clinics of medical and dental services throughout the city. Its new campus sits on a 3.5 acre site at 355 Prairie Avenue that included the historic buildings of the Federated Lithographers, a printing company, and Beaman & Smith, a tool shop. Abandoned for years and declared a brownfield site, it became a catalyst for PCHC’s commitment to revitalize the South Providence community. The dilapidated mill complex was transformed into a $45 million state-of-the-art medical and health service campus that supports 200 staff and the community, encouraging a green and smart environment. Designed by Vision 3 Architects, the campus encompasses an entire city block, and was developed over an eleven-year, four phase period ending in September, 2014. The completed development includes a 41,750 s.f. LEED Silver Certified, primary care health center, a 50,000 s.f. medical office building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a 4,800 s.f. retail building which is a pharmacy.
Tiverton Public Library
First set forth as a goal within Tiverton’s Comprehensive Plan, the Tiverton Public Library was part of a town vision to develop a new town center for municipal buildings and a library with community meeting space. Decades of local advocacy, along with a federal grant, a successful local capital campaign, and a narrowly won bond referendum resulted in a new civic building that has been labeled the “crown jewel in the network of libraries across the state of Rhode Island.” The Town passed a commercial form-based zoning code to accommodate this new vision for an activity center sited in Bliss Four Corners. Designed by Union Studio Architects, the building is harmonious with the community and recalls the classic simplicity of the original Essex Library. The interior reflects a flexible, modern and data-rich 21st century community gathering place. The new library is located in a mixed-use neighborhood that includes homes, two schools, public ballfields and commercial enterprises.
Outstanding Smart Growth Policies /Plans
Woonsocket Downtown Overlay District
Overlay districts have proven successful for remaking downtowns and neighborhoods across the United States into more vital and inviting places to go. The City of Woonsocket used this effective zoning tool in an effort to redefine itself and adapt to the growing national and regional market for walkable urban places. The new district zoning allows for many uses such as entertainment and the arts, including outdoor cafes, live/work units, artist studios and galleries, hotels, restaurants and theatre. Upper floor residential units and lowered parking requirements will increase foot traffic while also improving the fiscal viability of redevelopment proposals. Interim uses such as food trucks, pop-up retail, art and cultural installations, farmers’ markets and performances will all serve to encourage more visitors to the city’s historic downtown, soon to be served by private commuter rail between Worcester and Providence. With eyes on the continued rehabilitation and revitalization of its landmark Main Street area, the City is positioning itself to better welcome investors and developers.