Your optimism is laudable and I hope it all comes to pass like you say. However, consider all the surface parking lots pockmarking the prime Downtown core. I count at least a dozen from a quick Google maps survey. Consider:Providence really has an amazing opportunity with the recent relocation of I-195. This should be for them what the Big Dig was for Boston... the removal of a hulking elevated highway and its associated mess of ramps to reunite two previously disconnected parts of the city. We're talking a dozen or more blocks here, countless acres of new cityscape. It's practically a blank slate.
Filling it in will knit the downtown back together, and bring massive opportunity to the forlorn Jewelry District. Areas that were the hinterlands before, cowering in the shadow of an elevated highway less than 10 years ago, are now prime real estate. As cool as it would be for the Hope Point tower to come to fruition, I don't think it's necessary. Just filling in the space with five story buildings would make Providence feel twice as big, opening up new areas and bringing foot traffic to previously isolated areas.
I look forward to seeing it all unfold. I think that keeping the scale of the development small will be key. Hopefully they can avoid the massive block-sized developments that we saw quickly fill in Bulfinch Triangle.
1.) These surface lots are dead prime Downtown core.
2.) Therefore they would command the highest rents if they were developed into office, retail, residential, hotel, what have you.
3.) Yet they still sit fallow.
4.) Therefore developers have concluded they still aren't worth the risk.
5.) Therefore why would developers bother with the vacant lots opened up by the I-195 realignment, in the Jewelry District, given how the rents those redeveloped parcels would command would be less than the parking lots in the prime Downtown core?
The only potentially hidden subtexts to this that I can foresee is that:
1.) All those surface parking lots in the prime Downtown core are somehow encumbered with terrible handicaps--subsurface toxic sediments, etc.--that make them far less appealing than it would appear superficially, and
2.) Providence development officials would have to--or perhaps already are?-- tip(ping) the scales in favor of giving development prioritization to those newly opened-up Jewelry District parcels--despite the fact that, again, compared to the prime Downtown surface parking lots--they couldn't command as much rent, therefore the buildings built on them wouldn't be as sleek/competitive, therefore they'd be worth less, therefore they'd pay less property taxes, therefore poor policy.
Neither 1.) nor 2.) sounds good to me....