Developer Evan Granoff is in the process of renovating the historic Arcade to include 48 residential micro-lofts on the second and third floors, as well as retail and restaurant space at ground level. “I see it as a community," he explains. "The building is very unique. If you stand anywhere on the second or third floor, you can see every apartment. You’re going to be part of a community. You may have a very small apartment, but you have a very big common area where you can hang out. People are going to be able to get to know other people. It’d be a great place to live if you didn’t know anybody.”
James Hall, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society: "As part of my job description, whenever I talk about Downtown, I’m required to say 'intact fabric.' It’s a geeky phrase, but it tries to describe in urban planning terms the feeling that a visitor to Providence has when they walk down Westminster Street and think to themselves, Cool! It sounds simplistic, but the best thing this area has going for it is that in a 6 x 8 block precinct we have something that feels like a city. The nicest street for walking, sitting or people watching in Downtown is Westminster Street — and the best buildings there were all built before WWII. The lessons of how to make a great city are staring us right in the face. What’s lacking? A supermarket. For pedestrians."
The Dorrance, which opened late last year, rejuvenated the old Federal Reserve. By turning what was formerly a venue only for private events and functions into a full-service restaurant and cocktail lounge, it gave residents and visitors the opportunity to spend time in and interact with one of the most unique and beautiful commercial spaces Downtown.
Food Truck Tuesdays, organized by the Downcity marketing group, brings trucks like Hewtin's Dogs Mobile, Poco Loco, Fancheezical and more to Grant's Block, attracting a hungry lunchtime crowd.
Westminster Street is the main artery of activity Downtown, and the heart of the unofficial "Downcity" district.
Sights like this are a common complaint of visitors to Downtown, but the new ParkDowntownProvidence.com
website aims to make parking more accessible and less confusing.
Both the Biltmore Hotel and the adjacent parking garage have new owners. The former is being brought out of receivership and renovated by a Boston investor, while the latter was purchased by Downtown developer Cornish Associates.
Cornish's plans for the Biltmore garage involve renovating the ground level to include six small-scale restaurant and retail spaces.
Weybosset Street was reopened to two-way traffic in January 2012, and the area in front of the Providence Performing Arts Center has been getting a facelift.
Signage like this is aimed at helping visitors navigate the city, and more is on the way, helping to direct both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
AS220 remains one of the social and cultural nerve centers of Downtown, and its window, perpetually cluttered with posters for various events, is a wealth of information about what's happening.
Empire Street was also reopened to two-way traffic in January, freeing up the flow of traffic around Downtown.
There is a new traffic circulator project in the works for LaSalle Square in addition to the recent changes to Empire Street. Also, Hasbro is moving employees into the former Blue Cross building at LaSalle Square.