Thanks to Jef Nickerson at GCPVD for keeping up with this developing story. Most of this info was compiled from his great Greater City Providence site.
There has been a lot of back and forth in the news recently about this sliver of the former Providence National Bank that was razed in 2005 to build a vapor-scraper. The latest news (Nov 19, 2009) is that the Downcity Design Review Committee has postponed a vote on the demolition permit question that the developer, Downing Corp., has before the Committee. It’s been four years since the “temporary” skeleton was erected to save this facade (ala the successful gutting of the Masonic Temple). This could be a real public safety issue if the facade and it’s mooring are not secure.
“[Committee] Vice Chairman Clark Schoettle... agreed with opponents that the [the owner] had failed to maintain the facade. He noted that the committee had granted the developer permission to demolish the [building] only on condition that the facade remained. “This seems like demolition by neglect,” he said. Schoettle is director of the Providence Revolving Fund and Board Member of the Providence Preservation Society.
Robert Azar, the city’s director of current planning, on Tuesday told Providence Business News that committee members questioned [the developer Jeremiah] O’Connor about his assertion that the facade was becoming too costly to maintain and therefore it only made sense to raze it. And some residents urged the committee to save what they considered an historic structure that the developers had pledged to preserve.
Local business owners, on the other hand, complained to the committee that the scaffolding holding up the facade was hurting their businesses by blocking foot traffic. And O’Connor... argued that his proposed parking lot, with roughly 50 spaces, would be an asset to the area.
Zoning ordinances normally prohibit parking lots that are visible from the street in the Downcity District, Azar said. Constructing one requires approval from the city’s Planning and Development Department, a special permit from the Zoning Board of Review or a zoning change approved by the City Council.
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