I live in the Elmhurst neighborhood about a block from Providence College. PC is a very nice school, and I’ve had many friends graduate from there and tell me how nice it was to live in Providence. It’s a lovely school, and offers its students enough amenities that they don’t have to leave the campus if they don’t want to.
But ask someone who doesn’t live in Elmhurst or attend PC where Providence College is, and they’ll likely tell you it’s past the 7-11 and near where the Dunkin Donuts used to be.
Other prominent schools in the city have defining retail districts that help personify the campus and incorporate the population with some of the charm of the area. Think of Brown University and Thayer Street; think of RISD and Wickendon Street. PC has a beautiful campus in a wonderful neighborhood, but save for a lovely pair of LaSalle Bakery’s, almost nothing to offer those of us who want to stroll along, sip a coffee, and buy a Friars shirt.
PC is missing a wonderful opportunity here. Admiral Street, Douglas Avenue, and Smith Street are all begging, screaming, for retail that draws a crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
People are looking for a way to connect this side of town with a safe, walkable, and friendly connection to downtown. These avenues that lead to Providence College and converge near the mall and state house could be just such a place. Line them with shops; attract people to walk up Smith Hill, and make them want to keep walking. It’s not that far!
A walk from Hope Street to the mall is about the same distance as walking from the state house to Huxley Avenue.
Encouraging the public to want to be near the college can only make the school a more desirable destination for prospective students. Make them want to go to PC because it’s in a great neighborhood too!
Now would be a great time for PC to purchase some of the buildings along Smith, Admiral, and Douglas. Real estate prices are currently low, the city needs investment, and the right choice of businesses could really transform the neighborhood and its connection with the rest of the city.
So please, Providence College, put PC on the map!