Letter: Five reasons why historical society opposes Belvedere plan

Posted 6/5/18

The Board of Directors of the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society opposes granting a height variance to the proposed project for the corner of State and Thames streets. We cite the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Not a subscriber?


Start a Subscription

Sign up to start a subscription today! Click here to see your options.

Purchase a day pass

Purchase 24 hours of website access for $2. Click here to continue

Day pass subscribers

Are you a day pass subscriber who needs to log in? Click here to continue.


Letter: Five reasons why historical society opposes Belvedere plan

Posted

The Board of Directors of the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society opposes granting a height variance to the proposed project for the corner of State and Thames streets. We cite the following reasons:

  1. Because the property is located within Bristol’s Historic Waterfront District, the project must comply with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. This proposal fails to meet both Standards 9 and 10, which direct new construction to be “compatible with the massing, size, scale, and architectural features to protect the historic integrity of the property and its environment” and to be “undertaken in such a manner that if removed in the future, the essential form and integrity of the historic property and its environment would be unimpaired.” The height, size, and massing of the proposed construction violates these standards.

  2. The proposal also violates the historic integrity of Thames Street. All historic maps and views of the area show that the east side of Thames Street was less dense and contained smaller buildings relative to those on the working waterfront across the street. This proposal inverts this formula.

  3. The proposal is significantly out of scale with the surrounding area. This building is substantially larger than all the surrounding buildings by a very wide margin and has very little articulation to break up the single volume at street level. As planned, the design will create a more than 40-foot-tall wall of building along the street that will overwhelm and overpower the area, casting shadows on the street at all times of day and dwarfing the remaining historic structures.

  4. The mass and size of the building will undermine other investments already made by the Town of Bristol in Thames Street, especially those involving the Gladding Buildings, the Armory, and the extension of Stone Harbor’s boardwalk.  Because it is so large, this project will block the visual and pedestrian connections, including views to and from the watershed, that are critical to making these efforts succeed.

  5. Granting the height variance for this project sets an extremely poor precedent for future projects and will further endanger Bristol’s significant architectural and urban fabric. All future developers will consider breaking Bristol’s height limit as standard operating procedure.

We believe that lowing the height and redesigning the mass of the building to meet the zoning requirements resolves all of these concerns. It will also reduce its visual impact.

Therefore, the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society respectfully requests that the Historic District Commission, the Planning Board and the Zoning Board deny the current request and work with developer Jim Roiter to scale the project to meet existing requirements.

We are standing by to offer whatever assistance is needed during this process.

Catherine W. Zipf, PhD

Juan Mariscal, P.E. (ret.)

Bristol

The above are executive director and president, respectively, of the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society.

2020 by East Bay Newspapers

Barrington · Bristol · East Providence · Little Compton · Portsmouth · Tiverton · Warren · Westport
Meet our staff
Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.