Highlights $4.3 million in funding for revitalization including bike & pedestrian safety improvements, cultural tourism initiatives
Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined elected officials, staff from the City’s Planning and Development Department, Department of Public Works, and Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, as well as Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA) Executive Director Marta Martinez at the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island’s SouthLight Pavilion to announce expanded art, cultural and tourism investments along the Broad Street corridor. Mayor Elorza highlighted $4.3 million in funding for bike and pedestrian safety improvements, creative placemaking, and cultural tourism initiatives aimed to continue revitalization work in neighborhoods throughout the corridor.
“There is so much happening on Broad Street, which is why locals know it to be a great destination for food, entertainment and nightlife, and public art,” said Mayor Elorza. “I’m excited to announce our increased investments to encourage even more visitors to experience Broad Street’s unique offerings in the years to come.”
The announcement follows public engagement efforts by the City, including a March 11, 2017 community conversation focused on the future of Broad Street. Feedback provided by participants showed that residents’ visions emphasized a Broad Street that celebrates diversity and cultural heritage; provides excellent quality of life; fosters thriving businesses; realizes improved bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure; and incorporates better maintenance of the physical environment of the neighborhood.
The City’s Art, Culture + Tourism Department announced the Celebrate Broad Street initiative, a cultural tourism partnership with the Providence Warwick Convention Visitors Bureau (PWCVB), Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA), Quisqueya in Action, City Walk, and other community stakeholders that will develop collaborative marketing strategies and introduce a new logo, strategic messaging, and a public calendar of art and cultural events happening along Broad Street. Calendar listings can be found on www.artsnowri.com.
“Experiential travel is a big trend in our industry. Visitors want to really explore a city and see more of its people and culture,” said Martha Sheridan, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We work very closely with Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism to identify unique projects like Celebrate Broad Street that tell the story of an exciting neighborhood and of the city’s vibrant Latino culture. ”
In addition, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism will continue implementation of Illuminating Trinity, their creative placemaking work with Rhode Island LISC and community partners in the upper Broad Street area. This work, funded in part by the ArtPlace America grant that made the construction of the Southlight Pavillion possible, will include new public programming. Rhode Island Latino Arts (RILA) and Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS) will present programming in the pavilion this spring and summer. These cornerstone organizations for the Southside Cultural Center of Rhode Island will establish the inaugural season at the pavilion and animate the square through exciting community events. The City has dedicated $1.3 million dollars to the Illuminating Trinity creative placemaking partnership.
“In the 1950s Josefina Rosario and her husband, Tony arrived in Providence from the Dominican Republic looking for a new home. Here they settled into what was at the time home to Rhode Island’s Irish and Jewish communities. They opened what later became the first Latino business, a bodega they called “Fefa’s Market” on the corner of Broad and Baker Streets,” said Marta Martinez, Director of Rhode Island Latino Arts. “Today, Broad Street is the city’s Latino Cultural Corridor where you can find Latin American restaurants, bakeries, bodegas and Chimi Trucks galore!”
The Illuminating Trinity Public Art Selection Committee has also selected The Steel Yard to create a permanent project at 358 Broad Street, the location of Empire Loan of Rhode Island. The installation will enhance pedestrian-level interaction and public safety in Trinity Square and will make the streetscape more vibrant. Led by Providence-based artist Anna Snyder, the project will engage students from the Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School. Construction is set to commence in May, with completion expected by July 2017. Further, Rhode Island LISC, the South Providence Neighborhood Association (SPNB), and Trinity Square business owners have partnered to support of the cleanup efforts of the non-profit Calle Limpia, by funding a new plan for increased public access to, and private stewardship of the square’s trash cans.
Recently, the City undertook a study of crashes involving people walking and biking and it was determined that Broad Street had the most incidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists out of any corridor in Providence. The area is also home to numerous public schools and it is reported that nearly 40% of people walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to get to work.
Noting a priority to make the corridor safer for children and families, Mayor Elorza announced that the City is preparing to begin public engagement and design on a multi-phase, once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance neighborhoods and change the landscape of the City through a project called CityWalk. The goal of CityWalk is to improve walking and biking, connecting nine Providence neighborhoods to Roger Williams Park and to India Point Park through a series of investments in the public realm.
To make walking safer, the City will be working with the State to invest $500,000 provided by Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s (RIDOT) Highway Safety Improvement Program, into pedestrian safety improvements along Broad Street. An additional $1.875 million in funds will be invested in the coming two years to make walking and biking even safer as part of the first phase of CityWalk.
Mayor Elorza also announced that in January 2017, Providence was selected as one of ten U.S. Cities to participate in PeopleForBikes’ Big Jump Program. Through a combination of education and infrastructure projects valued at $600,000, the new initiative aims to double or triple bike ridership in a specific focus area around the CityWalk project, including Downtown and South Providence over the next three years.