Tag Archives | Neighborhoods

Providence Preservation Society Festival of Historic Houses – June 2-3, 2017

Photo by Warren Jagger courtesy of PPS

From the Providence Preservation Society:

The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) is pleased to present the Festival of Historic Houses on June 2-3, 2017 in the Upper Elmwood Historic District. One of the region’s most anticipated heritage tourism events, the Festival grants guests self-guided access to more than one dozen private, historic homes. Upper Elmwood boasts opulent architecture, from Queen Anne Victorian to Colonial Revival style, from Providence’s greatest growth period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The homes shine again today due in large part to grassroots restoration efforts by caring residents. New this year will be a neighborhood fair representing aspects of the area’s rich cultural diversity. The event is also timed with the city’s third annual PVD Fest, Providence’s signature citywide art festival, June 1-4, creating a robust art and architecture experience for weekend visitors and residents alike.

Self-guided private house tours take place on Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m.—4 p.m. Saturday registration begins at 9:45 a.m. at the Knight Memorial Library, 275 Elmwood Avenue. Advance ticket purchase strongly recommended at for $35 for Upper Elmwood residents, $35 in advance for PPS members, and $45 in advance for non-members. On-site tickets will be $35 for Upper Elmwood residents, $45 for PPS members, and $55 for non-members.


PPS Symposium – Beyond Buildings: Preserving the Livable Neighborhood – November 5-7, 2015

Image from PPS’ 2014 Symposium – Photo by Cat Laine

From Providence Preservation Society:

Beyond Buildings: Preserving the Livable Neighborhood

Providence’s neighborhoods help us trace how the city was built, and why. Through them, we reveal the people and cultures that contributed to the city’s evolution. Each neighborhood tells a unique story of Providence and its people. Over time, as the city matured and populations shifted, local landmarks also took on new roles, uses, and meanings and residential, commercial, civic, and recreational spaces evolved.

Beyond Buildings: Preserving the Livable Neighborhood, will examine neighborhood identity, community assets, and the importance of “human capital” to the city’s success. Building on our 2014 focus on downtown Providence and what makes a great city, we are now moving into our residential districts to discuss programs and policy blueprints for upward mobility, sustainability, and community development, honoring the individual character of Providence’s neighborhoods.

Speakers include:

  • Donovan Rypkema, Principal of PlaceEconomics
  • Majora Carter, Urban Revitalization Strategist and Social-Enterprise Pioneer
  • Ned Kaufman, author of Place, Race, and Story: Essays on the Past and Future of Historic Preservation.
November 5 – 7, 2015
The King’s Cathedral
1860 Westminster Street, Olneyville

For more information and to register visit


City launches storefront improvement grant program


From the City:

Mayor Taveras Launches Storefront Improvement Program to Revitalize Building Facades, Support Small Businesses

Program is a priority in Mayor’s economic development action plan, Putting Providence Back to Work

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Angel Taveras, joined by local business owners and business leaders, announced the launch of a new storefront improvement program this morning. The program will support the revitalization of building facades and small businesses across Providence. The initiative is one of the steps identified in Mayor Taveras’ 20-point economic development plan, Putting Providence Back to Work.

“Providence is known for its diverse, historic neighborhoods, which are anchored by small businesses,” said Mayor Taveras. “The storefront improvement program is designed to attract customers to existing businesses, revitalize local business districts, and enhance the beauty and safety of Providence’s neighborhoods.”

Continue Reading →


News & Notes

Portland Aerial Tram car

Portland Aerial Tram in station. Photo (cc) kevincrumbs.

News & Notes Looking to the skies for answers: a second look at gondola transit [The Toronto Star]

[Toronto] Mayor Rob Ford seems to favour tunneling transit underground in Toronto. But a growing number of international cities, including some in Canada, are casting their eyes to the sky at an unconventional mode that’s cheaper, cleaner and quicker to build than subways and light rail.

In fringe suburbs, has economics trumped the appeal of new? [Greater Greater Washington]

The recession and the burst of the housing bubble have stopped development in many fringe suburbs. With many urban neighborhoods on the rise, some suggest that fringe suburbs are on the decline. Has simple economics surpassed the appeal of “new” in the hinterlands?

Continue Reading →


City announces agreement to maintain Providence Community Libraries


Announcement at Smith Hill Library. Photo from Mayor Taveras’ Facebook page.

At a press conference this morning on Smith Hill, the Taveras Administration announced an agreement which will allow the Providence Community Library (PCL) to gain control of their branch library buildings and initiate much needed renovations of the buildings. The announcement ends a dispute between the PCL, the Providence Public Library (PPL), which maintains the main library on Empire Street, and the City of Providence.

The dispute had left employees at PCL uncertain about their future, community members uncertain about the continued operation of thier neighborhood libraries, and PCL unable to acquire loans or grants to fix and maintain their buidlings.

Taveras Administration Reaches Agreement to Save Libraries
City will lease neighborhood branches for 20 years under mediated settlement

PROVIDENCE, RI – The administration of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has reached an agreement with the two independent organizations that operate the libraries that serve city residents that will preserve city branches and protect every neighborhood library in the city.

Under the agreement mediated by retired Superior Court Judge Mark Pfeiffer, the Providence Public Library (PPL), which operates the downtown library and owns seven of the city’s nine neighborhood library buildings, will transfer the seven buildings to the City as a 20 year lease-purchase, at the end of which the City will own the buildings outright.

The City will make an initial payment of $250,000 to PPL from funds held in escrow during the dispute over the future of the libraries. Additionally, the City will make 18 annual payments to PPL in the amount of $264,000, beginning in 2014. The total cost of acquiring the seven neighborhood libraries will be $5 million. The assessed value of the seven buildings is approximately $11 million.

Continue Reading →


PPS Call for 2010 Most Endangered Properties Nominations

Photo of 342 Williams Street, Fox Point borrowed from Forgotten Providence

The Providence Preservation Society is calling for nominations for their 2010 Most Endangered Properties list.

Every year, the Providence Preservation Society compiles the Most Endangered Properties List with the help of concerned members of the public who submit their nominations. Most resources on the list represent an important aspect of local community life and character. The sites reflect threats such as deterioration, neglect, insufficient funds, insensitive public policy and inappropriate development – problems that frequently threaten properties throughout Providence.

The purpose of this list is to generate interest and support for the preservation of these significant properties; educate the public about the benefits of historic preservation and the unique historic properties in our city; and work toward solutions with property owners, developers and other interested parties to bring about positive change in each property.

Generally, the Society lists buildings individually, but have in the past been known to name groups of buildings. See 2009 when the Downtown Providence National Register District was listed and two structures, the Providence National Bank Façade and Teste Block, were nominated together.

This year, I plan to nominate en masse, all the houses in Providence being foreclosed on. I encourage others to follow my lead if so inclined. Randomly traveling the streets of Providence (or flipping through the pages at Forgotten Providence shows the toll the foreclosure crisis is having on us. This is a preservation problem beyond buildings, the displacement of people (both owners and renters) decimates communities. Living somewhere littered with abandoned buildings is… is… well, it’s depressing.

I’m not an economist nor a real estate expert, but I have to believe there are creative ways to hold onto these buildings, to allow people to continue living in them, and protect them from rotting away. Stimulus money, co-ops, non-profit trusts, squatting… something. I think PPS shining a light on these buildings is a good start for the creative thinking process we need to have to figure out how to end this neglect.

Visit this page to download a nomination form. Nominations are due by February 19th.


City Plan Commission Meeting (12/01)


TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2009 – 4:45 PM
Department of Planning and Development, 4th Floor Auditorium 400 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903


Call to Order
Roll Call
Approval of Meeting Minutes: November 3, 2009


1. Brown University Institutional Master Plan Amendment # 2
Amendment to the Brown Institutional Master Plan (IMP) for the purposes of including development plans for Jewelry District properties and streetscapes, as well as updates on plan implementation and clarifications of previously proposed plan details.


2. Neighborhood Plan Presentations
Presentation of the Upper South Providence/Lower South Providence/Elmwood neighborhood plan by DPD staff. The plan will be reviewed by the Commission and public comment will be taken.




Dean Street update

I posted about the work on the sidewalks on Dean Street last month. I had intended to head over to Planning to take a look at the plans for the street rebuild, but never got around to it. However, as work has progressed, one of my primary questions has been answered. The intersection of Federal and Dean is being improved:


There was some planning done by RIDOT back in 2003 about the Dean-Cahir-Stewart corridor (report here ). Part of that planning was the redesign of the Federal Street and Dean Street intersection (see image above).

The current configuration of the intersection sees 6 streets coming together with little in the way of traffic controls and large gaps for pedestrians to cross. The new configuration has eastbound Federal Street traffic terminating at a T intersection with Kenyon Street, then Kenyon Street intersecting at a right angle with Dean Street, continuing across to Federal Street.

In the 2003 proposal, there was a right turn lane from Dean Street southbound onto Federal Street westbound. This is not being built. Though motorist would probably prefer it over having to now make two rights to get onto Federal Street, as a pedestrian I prefer it this way. In the current configuration, pedestrians on the west side of Dean Street have to cross approximately 85 feet of Federal and Kenyon Streets travel lanes, with traffic coming and going from various directions through that 85 feet. This new configuration will greatly reduce the amount of space pedestrians need to cross and the multitude of directions that traffic moves through.

It will also make more sense to drivers, currently Kenyon and Federal both have stop signs, but it is not clear which street has priority approaching Dean Street. I’ve been in cars with many drivers unfamiliar with the intersection who are quite intimidated by it. The new configuration shows drivers that Federal must stop at Kenyon, turn left, then stop at Dean before proceeding.

Dean Street at Federal Street

Dean Street at Federal Street

Dean Street at Federal Street

Dean Street at Federal Street

This new configuration should prove to make the intersection make much more sense for both drivers and pedestrians, making both safer in traversing it.


Farmer’s Market: Davis Park

Davis Park
Photo by M.Coolidge

Last weekend, I went to my first Providence farmer’s market. Yeah, I’m a little late to this party, but now that there is a farmer’s market in my neighborhood, I really had no excuse. My girlfriend and I biked down the street to the newly improved Davis Park where the Elmhurst Clean and Green folks sponsor the market.
We bought some delicious veggies, tasted some yummy samples, and listened to live music. In addition, there were folks selling flowers and pumpkins.

Recently, Elmhurst Clean and Green organized not only a cleanup of the park, but installation of playground equipment and community garden space.
Davis ParkPlaygroundMarketMarket
Images from flickr: Elmhurst Clean and Green

The farmer’s market continues Sundays 10am-1pm (TODAY!) through October 25th at Davis Park off Chalkstone Ave near the intersection of Oakland Ave/Raymond St. (RIPTA 56)

View Larger Map


Retail Update: Hudson Street Deli grand opening (10/03)

View Larger Map

There was much sadness on the West Side when Hudson Street Market closed shop and moved to new digs in the Nightclub District*. But then the sadness abated when Hudson Street Deli was announced. The Deli has been open since mid-September, but they are having their grand opening celebration this Saturday (10/03). The grand opening will also feature gluten free baked goods from our friends at FreeFlour Bakery.

The festivities run from 12 to 2pm at 68 Hudson Street.

*Did I invent Nightclub District? Do we like it? It is shorter than Johnson & Wales Hootchies Heading to The Club District.


It is already better than it was. Dean Street.

Dean Street at Atwells

Work has begun on Dean Street, praise Maude!

Dean Street

Dean Street

Dean Street

Dean Street at Federal Street

So I’m not at all sure what is up here, the Stimulus sign went up the other day and work began in earnest today. The Mayor asked for $10million for 18 miles of sidewalk repair in his stimulus wish list last year. That wish list had nothing specific to Dean Street in it.

Way back in 2003, RIDOT did a study on the Dean-Cahir-Stewart corridor and released this report . That report called for $3.5million (which seems way low) worth of improvements to the corridor including more turn lanes (which I’m not a fan of) and bump outs at certain areas to enhance pedestrian movements (which I am a fan of). I don’t know if the improvements proposed in that plan are included in the work happening now however. I’ll reach out to some contacts in the city and see what I can find out.

But seriously, if they stopped work right now, it would be a vast improvement over how Dean Street has been for the better part of the last decade.

UPDATE 10/02/2009:
I heard back from Planning regarding the scope on Dean Street and am told it is a complete rebuild of the right-of-way (street and sidewalks) from Stewart to West Exchange Street. There are plans for the work in the Planning office which I may pop in to take a look at next week.

Photos by Jef Nickerson


195 Street Grid Part 5: A look at lot sizes

In Part 4 much of the discussion revolved around lot sizes.

Comment by Corey

Call me naive, but personally, I would take some of the parcels not targeted for institutional use, subdivide them, and then sell the subdivided lots individually; much more in line with what would have been done in the 18th or 19th centuries. […] It also allows a lot of building form regulations to be relaxed without risking so much insensitive development.

  • By allowing room for numerous property owners to have building facades on the same block, you’re almost guaranteed not to have a block-long dead space in any part of the district, because a variety of different uses and architecture occupy each street front.
  • By encouraging buildings with smaller footprints, building heights and proportions tend to be harder to abuse, decreasing the need to spend the time and money on the exhaustive specific zoning regarding height, mass, and proportion which tends to scare away developers. If anything should be exhaustively regulated, it’s materials and energy efficiency.
  • Multiple tenants on each block = greater density, and greater variety of uses, which means:
  • A more constant street life at all times of day, as well as greater walkability, and demand for mass transit expansion.

If anything has been proven to work in Providence, it’s the repetition of historical development patterns. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, and plenty of wiggle room for dynamic new buildings within those patterns. The 195 relocation project in and of itself reflects the fact that the city planners realize this. It just needs to be taken one step further in order to really work well here.

Read through the discussion to see more of the conversation.

The massing renderings below show several different configurations of lot sizes on the east side parcels of the 195 redevelopment area:


Large full block lots • Click image to enlarge


Small lots, some combined • Click image to enlarge


Mixed lots after development pressure • Click image to enlarge

195_iconThis is the fifth of a series of posts we will be doing about the 195 Street Grid. To view all the posts and more information, please visit our 195 Relocation Project page.


Resident parking signs going up


Resident Parking Signs Providence left [by jwest] Boston right [(cc) rherring]

Yay! Resident parking signs have started to appear on the West Side. I just have one small nitpick, design. I say this all the time, we are home to one of the world’s most prestigious design schools and are the home to hundreds of independent designers and small design firms, but you would never know it sometimes by looking at our city streets.

It’s a small thing really, but it is the small things that add up. These are special parking spaces, and the signage should reflect that. The Boston sign above is not the peak of design excellence, but it is a unique sign that quickly states it’s message to those looking for it. Boston residents know to look for the green helvetica “Resident Permit Parking Only” signs. And they are unique enough that those not familiar with them take notice and read the message. And I feel like the message on the Providence sign should be different. “Parking by Resident Permit Only 2am – 5am,” seems more right to me. It is not, “No Parking,” parking is allowed, just not for everyone. And presumably, parking is open to anyone 5am – 2am.

Maybe I’m being overly nitpicky, but I’d like to see us as a city, step it up in the design department some.


City Plan Commission Meeting – September 15, 2009

Notice of Regular Meeting • Tuesday, September 15, 2009 • 4:45pm
Department of Planning and Development, 4th Floor Auditorium
400 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes: August 18, 2009

Director’s Report

Discussion with commission members to determine schedule and dates for presentation of future neighborhood plans.

Land Development Project

1. Case No. 09-002MA – 175 Broad Street (Public Informational Meeting) Request for Master Plan stage approval for the proposed commercial development of the property located at 175 Broad Street. The subject property is bounded by Service Road No. 7, Broad Street and Cahir Street (AP 24, Lot 603). (Upper South Providence) Continued from the CPC meeting on July 21, 2009.

View Larger Map

Providence Tomorrow

2. Neighborhood Plan Presentation Presentation of College Hill/Fox Point/Wayland and Upper South Providence/Lower South Providence/Elmwood neighborhood plans by DPD staff. The plans will be reviewed by the Commission and public comment will be taken. Public comment on the Olneyville/Valley/Smith Hill and Elmhurst/Mt. Pleasant plans will also be taken. The items were continued to allow more time for public review. Comments on the Hope/Mt. Hope/Blackstone plan will be taken at the October meeting. The Commission may choose to act to adopt one or more of the neighborhood plans under consideration.



195 Street Grid Part 3: Wickenden Street update


In Part 1 of our 195 Street Grid posts, we looked at the Wickenden Street area and an alternate plan proposed by Ron Henderson of L+A Landscape Architecture. The design proposed by RIDOT was less than impressive, after feedback from the public and the Fox Point Neighborhood Association and others, the City Planning Department has requested that RIDOT review the alternate proposals prepared by Ron Henderson and a similar proposal prepared by Russell Preston of Cornish Associates. RIDOT will prepare one or two alternatives based on the public feedback and the Henderson and Preston proposals. These alternatives will be presented at a public meeting to be scheduled for some time in September.

I have received a new draft prepared by L+A Landscape Architecture in consultation with The Fox Point Neighborhood Association, The Providence Foundation, and Cornish Associates.

Wickenden Update

Download a full size .pdf of the draft:
Download Wickenden Update Draft
Download original RIDOT Street Grid Plan (east of Providence River)

So, I do like this plan, it addresses much of the concerns brought up by the original RIDOT plan. There are just a couple little issues I have.

Continue Reading →


City Plan Commission – August 18, 2009

As Matt noted, CPC next week is devoted to the Elmhurst and Mount Pleasant neighborhood plans:

Notice of Regular Meeting • Tuesday, August 18, 2009 • 4:45 PM
Department of Planning and Development, 4th Floor Auditorium
400 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903

Opening Session

  • Call to Order
  • Roll Call
  • Approval of Meeting Minutes: July 21, 2009

Director’s Report

Providence Tomorrow

1. Neighborhood Plan Presentation Presentation of Olneyville/Valley/Smith Hill and Elmhurst/Mt. Pleasant neighborhood plans by DPD staff. The plans will be reviewed by the Commission and public comment will be taken. The commission will also take public comment on the Washington Park/Elmwood and Hope/Mt. Hope/Blackstone plans presented at the Commission’s July meeting. The Commission continued the item to allow more time for public review of the plans. The Commission may choose to act to adopt one or more of the neighborhood plans presented at the July and August meetings.