City Waives Fees to Provide Safe Outdoor Expansion for Small Businesses and Art Organizations to Encourage Cultural and Economic Recovery
April 9, 2021
PROVIDENCE, RI – In the heart of Federal Hill, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined Council President and Lt. Governor nominee Sabina Matos, Councilwoman Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Department of Art, Culture + Tourism Director Stephanie Fortunato, Federal Hill Commerce Association Executive Director Rick Simone, Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Kristen Adamo, and Providence Flea Founder and Market Manager Maria Tocco to announce a series of expanded resources to support business owners and cultural organizations safely activate outdoor spaces in the City of Providence.
“Our hospitality sector and small business community have gone to great lengths to adapt and reimagine how they deliver services,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Building off our successes last year, we want to continue to support these establishments by making it as easy as possible to do business safely and creatively. As we continue to rebuild, I encourage residents and visitors to experience our world-class creative community to stimulate our local economy.”
Last spring, Mayor Elorza spearheaded an effort to provide relief to Providence’s hard-hit hospitality industry. From offering free 2-hr parking in business corridors to waiving city fees associated with special events, it is estimated that Providence businesses throughout the city received over $370,000 in financial support to support outdoor activation during the pandemic. Additionally, the City offered enhanced outdoor programming and virtual opportunities to encourage visitors to patronize neighborhood restaurants and retail establishments. To further accelerate economic growth, the City will offer new resources in 2021 to maximize the City’s outdoor spaces for dining, retail, special events, and recreational activities.
Effective as of April 9, 2021 through December 31, 2021, resources to support this effort include:
- Waiving fees associated with special event permits, including but not limited to application fees, street closures, police and fire details, and vending fees;
- Creating and training a Special Events Team to assist event producers to implement COVID guidelines during events permitted by the City;
- Offering up to two hours of free parking in designated commercial districts throughout Providence;
- Launching a webinar series to help businesses navigate the special event, outdoor dining, and expansion of premise applications. More details, including the date of the first virtual gathering will be announced soon at www.thinkpvd.com.
From securing PPE to grants for micro-enterprise businesses to collaborating with organizations like the Steel Yard to offer one-of-a-kind parklets to encourage businesses like the Providence Flea to maximize outdoor space, the City of Providence has been steadfast in its commitment to supporting the small business community throughout the public health crisis. In April 2020, the City of Providence announced a series of resources to help local businesses impacted by the public health crisis, including funding available through the Providence Business Loan Fund. To date, the PBLF has issued over $1 million to Providence-based businesses.
“Supporting local business has been a top priority throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. As business owners continue to face the many challenges ahead, myself, my Council colleagues, and our community partners will remain committed to helping local business flourish. I am proud to have worked with Mayor Elorza to create an environment in which Providence businesses can thrive and access needed resources. From waiving fees to creating loan programs and providing educational resources, as City leaders we are here to help,” stated Councilor Rachel Miller.
As part of the announcement, the Federal Hill Commerce Association today announced the return of Al Fresco on the Hill. Last summer and fall, Federal Hill’s iconic restaurants reimagined their dining experiences by expanding dining space onto Atwells Avenue thanks in part to waived fees for outdoor activation. This creative use of public space was both a tourist attraction and much-needed revenue generator for participating restaurants. According to the Federal Hill Commerce Association, restaurants participating in Al Fresco dining saw an average of 80% of their reservations filled during Al Fresco nights. Beginning May 14th, Atwells Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic each Friday and Saturday evening. Over 20 restaurants and retailers have already signed on to participate.
Rick Simone, Executive Director of the Federal Hill Commerce Association said, “On behalf of the Federal Hill Commerce Association we truly appreciate Mayor Elorza’s continued commitment to outdoor activation expansion. As a result, Al Fresco on the Hill to return for 20 weeks. This enjoyable European style experience will play a vital role in the resurgence and continued operations of the restaurants and retailers on Federal Hill.”
Applications for outdoor dining accommodations, special event and use permits, and expansion of premise permits are now open. To stay up to date on City event guidelines and resources, business owners and special event planners are encouraged to visit thinkpvd.com. Guests interested in learning more about Al Fresco on the Hill should visit Federalhillprov.com for a list of participants and contact individual restaurants for reservations.