Apartment development in Providence sparks opposition in College Hill

PROVIDENCE — Critics are concerned about a proposal to raze two College Hill homes and erect a five-story apartment complex in their place, citing objections to the height of the building and the residents it might attract .

The development, proposed by Walter Bronhard and Brook Holding LLC, would mean demolishing two structures more than a century old, at 116 Waterman St. and 382 Brook St.

At a city plan commission meeting on Tuesday, the master plan for the mixed-use building was approved. The plan calls for 25 apartments, with commercial space on the ground floor. But local opponents hope that will not be the end of the matter.

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College Hill Neighborhood Association President Rick Champagne has raised concerns that dozens of students could occupy the space, which includes a roof. With the building’s added height compared to its neighbours, Champagne said, his “sense is that it’s going to be quite deafening for the neighborhood” when rallies take place.

“We’re already experiencing the homes that this developer and others have with students that they don’t monitor or manage, and it’s already a bit of chaos sometimes in the neighborhood,” Champagne said. “When you put [25] apartments times two bedrooms each plus friends, you have a 50 person rooftop party in the works.”

In a letter to the commission, the neighborhood association expressed its opposition to the design of the building but also to the demolition plans, which continue “to erode the historic character of our city”.

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In another letter to the Commissioners, Councilor John Goncalves and Councilor Helen Anthony also spoke, in addition to testifying at the meeting.

Goncalves, who fears the building will “diminish and undermine” quality of life, said he has “heard from countless voters” and that the development “sets, in the opinion of many neighbors, a dangerous precedent for the College Hill neighborhood. in terms of mass and scale.”

Anthony echoed those remarks.

“I know you’ve heard this from me, but at College Hill we try to maintain a very delicate balance between universities, businesses and surrounding neighborhoods, and it’s been very difficult,” she said. , claiming that “the height the disparity … will be stark” between the building and the houses across the street.

John Garrahy, Bronhard’s attorney, said the building is “an appropriate use in this area” but he can “understand the residents’ concern about students.” However, he argued the building would divert students from residential neighborhoods to the new development, which is surrounded by restaurants, Brown University buildings and a commercial bank.

“Their legitimate concern is that students sometimes make noise,” Garrahy said. “Well, then the remedy is to get them out of those residential areas and put them in a commercial area where the residents won’t be as affected by that type of use.”

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