A space made available to Providence’s neighborhood associations free of charge
The in-person return of a beloved Fox Point coffee shop
Fox Point residents have returned in droves to the Wickenden Street coffee shop that, for many, offers more than freshly brewed coffee in the form of a community that feels like family. The Coffee Exchange, which operated from a simple to-go window following the first COVID lockdown in Spring 2020, re-opened to in-person visits in a renovated space this past November.
The Coffee Exchange has been open since 1984, roasting and serving socially responsible, fair-trade organic coffees from around the world. It now boasts a reconfigured first floor with improved circulation, as well as a new seating area on the second floor that nearly doubles the shop’s capacity. Familiar features remain, such as the wooden grid that has hung from the ceiling for nearly 40 years and the dark wainscoting lining the shop’s perimeter.
“It’s different, but it’s the same,” comments owner Charlie Fishbein about the feel of the space. Most of all, neighbors have been delighted to spend time together in a familiar space, some literally crying with relief upon entering the building in November. “Everyone was isolated and suffering,” says Fishbein about COVID-related shutdowns. But now, they’re finding respite in a community mainstay. “This is family,” he continues, “whether it’s the people in front of the counter or behind it. This community is extraordinary.”
A December 2022 press conference confirmed that through the Providence Redevelopment Agency, the City of Providence is now the owner of the former site of Urban League of RI (246 Prairie Avenue in Upper South Providence), and has secured funding through the American Rescue Plan Act and additional funds from the federal government for its future redevelopment into a community hub. The new mayoral administration as well as Urban League leadership will solicit feedback from the community on what the site should be to best fulfill the needs of neighbors and stakeholders. The city submitted a request for proposals (RFP) to the Board of Contract & Supply to help facilitate community engagement and reimagine the site. The RFP invites qualified firms and consultants with experience in affordable housing, community development, neighborhood revitalization, and public engagement to apply.
The Urban League of RI – whose work focuses on economic empowerment for Black and African American residents in the Southside of Providence and throughout the state – will continue to have a presence on the site once it’s redeveloped, though details are yet to be realized pending decisions concerning its use. In the meantime, follow the South Providence Neighborhood Association on Facebook for updates or to get involved.
In December, the Cranston Street Armory began operating as a 24/7 emergency warming station for those experiencing homelessness during the winter months, with Amos House at the helm. “As the weather gets colder, it is critical to stand up low-barrier spaces that give unhoused individuals a safe and warm place to access supportive services,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal in a statement released by the office of Governor Dan McKee. “We thank the many people who worked to operationalize the Cranston Street Armory in a short period of time, and we thank Amos House for their willing leadership in this effort.”
Since opening the center, Amos House has provided a warm space, cot, and meals for more than 100 people each night, ranging in age from 19 to 80 years old. To continue aiding folks living outdoors this season, they are seeking donations of new clothing items, including underwear, sweatpants, sweatshirts, gloves, and hats for men and women in all sizes. Items can be sent to Amos House at 460 Pine Street, Providence, RI 02907. Follow to learn more about their efforts: Facebook: Amos House.
Fox Point Neighborhood Association: February 13
Summit Neighborhood Association: February 19
Olneyville Neighborhood Association update (for the template): Remove the name and FB page; it should just be: firstname.lastname@example.org, ONA-providence.org
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