Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Councilman Pedro Espinal of Ward 10, Bonnie Nickerson, City Planning Director and Executive Director of the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA), Wendy Nilsson, Superintendent of Parks, Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing, and community members today broke ground on the Roger Williams Park Gateway, a project that will convert currently blighted lots into an enhanced entrance to the Park on Broad Street.
Led by the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA) in close partnership with the City of Providence’s Department of Planning & Development and the Providence Parks Department, the Gateway will transform Roger Williams Park’s Broad Street entrance into a destination spot. Bursting with promise, innovation and color, the new facility will feature a vibrant visitor center, restrooms, and play areas.
“Today’s groundbreaking highlights our community’s commitment to innovative solutions for blight in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “The integration of new green infrastructure, innovative design, and community input will soon allow for another brilliant, shared space in South Providence.”
The Gateway is an important part of the ongoing revitalization of the Broad Street corridor, a cultural hub that began to form over 60 years ago and is home to a proud and diverse Latino community. The project has garnered community and neighborhood support from organizations such as the Elmwood Neighborhood Association, Quisqueya in Action, and RI Latino Arts. Perhaps the most striking physical representation of neighborhood history and culture within the Gateway is its multi-colored fins spanning the site, which will pay homage to the vibrant businesses lining Broad Street by using their storefront colors.
“This project is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we creatively invest in our public spaces,” said Councilman Pedro Espinal of Ward 10. “The Gateway will be an integral part of the revitalization of Broad Street, bringing renewed interest to the area and encouraging new visitors to experience everything our neighborhood has to offer.”
“Transforming a blighted lot into a welcoming destination spot for all to enjoy is a great example of partners coming together to create positive change with lasting impact for years to come,” said Bonnie Nickerson, City Planning Director and Executive Director of the PRA. “We are thrilled that the Gateway will serve as a new entry point for Roger Williams Park while also serving as an entrance from the Park into the Broad Street Neighborhood, bringing new visitors and business to the area.”
Roger Williams Park itself, often referred to as the People’s Park, is comprised of more than 435 scenic acres and offers a wide range of recreational and educational opportunities, annually hosting more than 1.5 million visitors from around the state and beyond.
“The Gateway is an inspired response to the public’s most requested park improvement: better and safer connections to our surrounding neighborhoods,” said Wendy Nilsson, Superintendent of Providence Parks. “Our team at the Park strives to create the best experience for our surrounding communities, and the Gateway is a significant step in our mission to create a space that looks and feels welcoming to all.”
The project received financial support from the Providence Redevelopment Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal American Rescue Plan Act and RIHousing’s Property Acquisition and Revitalization Program.
“The Roger Williams Gateway project is the ideal showcase for blight elimination utilizing $1 million from the state-funded Acquisition and Revitalization Program,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “RIHousing has helped fund numerous housing developments in South Providence and along the Broad Street corridor. These investments will be enhanced by the Gateway project, which will breathe new life into the community.”
For more information about the Providence Redevelopment Agency, please visit the PRA’s website.