Design review committee denies conceptual design of Hope Point Tower

In a Downtown Design Review Committee meeting Monday evening, opponents of the Hope Point Tower showed up to voice their opinions about the $300 million project.

“It has nothing to do with the fabric of our city,” one opponent said.

Those against the proposal said the tower would hurt the fabric of the historic jewelry district, one even calling it “an assault on our neighborhood”. Their main concern – the tower’s height and size.

The 46-story tower would house a parking garage, residential units, and retail on what is now vacant old 195 land. Fane Tower spokesperson Dante Bellini says the project would have a huge economic impact on the city.

“There was a sign in there that read ‘Fane symbol of greed’. The real sign should read, ‘symbol of investment in Providence’s future’ to the tune of $300 million…to the tune of $70 million in property taxes over the first 20 years,” he said.

It would also spur over a thousand construction jobs. A letter to the Committee sent by RI Building Trades and BuildRI read in part:

The design is certainly significant, but that is the type of building that is appropriate for any city of any significant size. If this committee declines to support this project, it is stating that it does not want to be a city of any significant capacity. The problem with that path however is that Providence will still have the liabilities of a large city, just not the property tax revenue to support it.  Meaning you will be choosing a path that is not financially feasible to the taxpayers.  That is not fair to the taxpayers.

But in a meeting where the intended discussion was on building design, opponents seemed to be hung up on the building’s sheer size, even after the city council voted to change zoning rules to accommodate it.

“When someone comes along and says ‘I want spot zoning that allows me to build a structure that’s 5x taller than anything in the immediate area,’ why bother… developing a comprehensive plan?”

After public comment the review committee ultimately voted to deny 3 of 4 waivers Fane Tower had requested to build the Hope Point Tower.

That decision acts solely as an advisory opinion to the 195 Commission, which will make the final decision.

Fane Tower sent a statement to ABC6 News reading:

Rather than weigh in on the design of the project, the DDRC chose to focus primarily on the height of the project, which has already been supported by the I-195 Commission and through a robust public process approved by the Providence City Council.Since the DDRC can only offer an advisory opinion and the I-195 Commission has the exclusive authority to grant design review, we intend to ask the I-195 Commission to approve the design.

©WLNE-TV 2019