Editorial

Thames Street plan can be positive for Bristol

Posted 3/9/18

There’s no mistaking the first impression people have of Jim Roiter’s proposal for the corner of Thames and State streets. It’s big!

It IS big.

But it is big not only in size, …

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Editorial

Thames Street plan can be positive for Bristol

Posted

There’s no mistaking the first impression people have of Jim Roiter’s proposal for the corner of Thames and State streets. It’s big!

It IS big.

But it is big not only in size, it is big in investment, vision and economic impact. Mr. Roiter, who has a positive track record in Bristol after pulling the Belvedere Hotel from bankruptcy and embarrasment, into a high-scale condo community, is proposing a building unlike any Bristol has seen before.

In the past, this town has approved plans for a large, waterfront hotel, as well as an enormous three-building, waterfront condo complex. It has approved plans for three-story apartment buildings and restaurants leaning over the water into Bristol Harbor.

It has not seen a project that brings a first-class restaurant, rooftop dining, a rooftop pool, and 20 very desirable residences into one building. The people likely to rent the apartments from Mr. Roiter would be middle class to upper-middle class — retirees and young professionals who go out to eat and take evening walks through the nearby shops and stores.

These will be attractive new residents, the kind who can be positive economic drivers.
In concept, this is a great proposal for Bristol — great dining, exciting vision and people with disposable income living in the heart of the downtown district.

Yet not all is perfect with this plan. As everyone knows, it is big. It engulfs all western views for its neighbors on State Street. In an effort to meet town parking codes, it jams too many cramped, crowded parking spaces into a small footprint.

Despite Mr. Roiter’s assurances, it has the potential to create a party-like atmosphere at the restaurant offering the most unique waterfront views in town.

Instead of listening to the objectors and rejecting this proposal, we hope town leaders continue working with Mr. Roiter and finding compromises that keep the project viable. In Bristol and elsewhere, we’ve seen towns reject projects that aren’t “perfect,” only to find the next applicant is even worse.

In this case, a developer wants to inject more than $10 million into an empty downtown lot, with the real promise of good things to follow. The vision has real merit.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.