BURYING THE WATERFRONT POWER LINES
| Overview of talking points |
Burying Waterfront Power Lines: Higher Property Values & More Economic Development
Burying riverfront power lines has been a key ingredient in transforming waterfronts into vibrant public destinations in Providence and other mid-size cities. The high-voltage lines on the Providence and East Providence waterfronts are a conspicuous impediment to the two cities capitalizing on their location at the head of Narragansett Bay.
Now more than ever — with both cities and the State desperate for economic game-changers — it's time to use the $17.5 million in funds designated for burial. None of these funds will come from the cities' budgets. The State authorized and the two City Councils have approved a surcharge (estimated at about 20 cents a month for the average ratepayer) to fully fund the project. If not used for burial, most of these funds will dissipate, without resulting in similar lasting benefits.
HIGHER PROPERTY VALUES
Proximity to high-voltage power lines lowers property values by as much as 30%, according to multiple studies in the US and Canada, as reported in the Journal of Real Estate Literature and elsewhere. Developing the I-195 parcels in Providence and newly available waterfront property in East Providence is crucial to bolstering the two cities' economies. If the wires remain above ground, they will be clearly visible from many of these parcels, as indicated below, and will thus reduce the property values and economic benefits of this development
The above ground waterfront power lines (solid yellow line) will be highly visible from projected development parcels in Providence and E. Providence, reducing their property value.
Churchill and Banks has proposed developing I-195 parcels adjacent to the power lines in Providence, and has written the City, urging burial because it "will not only enhance our future project, but will be a major asset to the Providence Waterfront and the redevelopment of the new 195 land parcels."
In East Providence, the wires and looming towers are highly visible from the new Tockwotton Home, which has advocated burying the wires for years, as have East Providence planners, who understand the importance of burial for marketing other nearby waterfront parcels.
ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF UPGRADED WATERFRONT
In Providence, the Riverwalks have been greatly enhanced by the absence of overhead utility lines. Waterfire brings invaluable buzz to downtown Providence, draws more than a million visitors a year, and adds $70 million to the City’s economy. Burying the waterfront wires would similarly upgrade the Shooters site, where an exciting proposal for a public attraction is being seriously considered by the State.
Chattanooga, Louisville, and San Antonio are other mid-size cities that have buried shoreline wires and trans-formed what were once industrial backwaters into highly successful waterfront attractions that draw millions of people.