Neighbors Win on Williams. For Now.
Fox Point Neighbors are celebrating a recent win in a grassroots effort to preserve a historic home and a centuries-old green space in the heart of the local historic district. About a year ago, developer Joseph Furtado shared plans to develop two adjoining plots on the western end of Williams and John streets, one of which contains a historic cottage, the other an empty lot. With the help of architect Friedrich St. Florian, Furtado applied to the Providence Historic District Commission (PHDC) in order to move and renovate the cottage, which has been nestled in the central, woodsy area on that block since the 1800s. The Furtado-St. Florian pair then proposed removing most of the established woodlands of the adjacent lot, razing a historic wall, and building townhouses with views of Narragansett Bay.
Also over the course of the past year, more than 50 neighbors have objected to these plans—as did the PHDC, when the Commission delayed its vote on the cottage renovation three times. “The buildings are huge,” commented a neighbor about the proposed townhouses at a Spring ‘21 FPNA meeting on this issue. “There are many garages and driveways. They come to within inches of the property lines…The [buildings] look like a big, unattractive mall.”
In an apparent victory for preservationists, the developer has since placed the house and lots on the market. "I don’t know who will buy [the house and land]," the same neighbor commented recently, "but we have at least successfully avoided a potential complex." Indeed, neighbors have confirmed that they are prepared to challenge designs by any new owners who, as this neighbor continued, “seek to densify or diminish the historic context of this unique community.”
Photo, Amy Mendillo