The Providence City Council voted Thursday 10 to 3 to override Mayor Jorge Elorza’s veto of the zoning variance requested by the developer of the Hope Point Tower on the 195 land in downtown Providence.
“I have seen a lot in my 21 years on the Council, and I believe that Hope Point Tower will turn out to be one of the most important developments in our City’s history,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Terrence M. Hassett. “I was there when neighbors said ‘no’ to the Renaissance Hotel. I was there when neighbors said ‘no’ to the Providence Place Mall. I went to bat for both and followed my gut that these projects were good for the City and the State, and they were. Today, I feel the same about this project, and I look forward to seeing it come to fruition.
Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) became the deciding vote to override the veto and grant the developer’s request for height relief and zoning change.
“This decision was not easy. I prayed about it. I talked to whoever would speak to me. I asked folks the right questions, and asked them all the same questions I always ask – what are the threats and what are the opportunities for my community. And I have concluded that opportunities far outweigh the threats,” stated Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris. “So today, I stood to override the Mayor’s veto, and I pledge to all those who have been so vocal about affordable housing: I heard you, and I am with you, and we will have it. By the end of my term, we will be a City that puts people to work, that pays them fair and livable wages, and we will have the equity, the income and the equality that every person needs and deserves.”
“The Fane Organization appreciates the support expressed by the City Council in this evening’s vote,” a spokesman said on behalf of developer Jason Fane. “It represents an opportunity to help move Providence forward with growth and new development. As we have said before, we remain bullish on Providence and Rhode Island. Hope Point (The Fane Tower) will be an exciting and successful project within the Innovation/Knowledge District, where entrepreneurs, innovators, makers and the movers of today and tomorrow will want to work, live and play.”
In a statement, Elorza expressed disappointment with the City Council’s vote. “As a city, we will not bend to the wishes of multi-millionaires who seek to change the rules for their own benefit, who seek to take advantage of every subsidy and benefit they can grab and yet who fail to consider the interests of the local community. Providence is in the middle of a building boom that hasn’t been seen in decades. We are a city on the rise and we are excited about the amazing projects we have in the pipeline that will continue to make Providence such a special place.”
“I am saddened that Councilwoman Harris flipped her vote to side with the developer,” Elorza continued. “Every responsible expert has indicated that this project is not financially viable and will fail under its own weight. It’s disappointing that our City Council ignored these warning signs and caved to continued political pressure, instead of siding with our residents.”
Councilors Luis Aponte, Carmen Castillo, Michael Correia, Terry Hassett, John Igliozzi, Wilbur Jennings, Sabina Matos, Nicholas Narducci, Mary Kay Harris, and Jo-Ann Ryan all voted to override the Mayor’s Veto. Council President David Salvatore abstained, and Councilors Nirva LaFortune, Sam Zurier, and Brian Principe voted no. Councilor Seth Yurdin was absent.
Salvatore said he abstained because he still had “many unanswered questions” and still opposes the project in its current form.