Providence, RI

Contact Name
Stephanie Fortunato
Project Dates
2011 - Present
Workshop Leader
Creative Communities Exchange (CCX) 2011
The City of Providence & the RI Public Transit Authority were awarded $910,000 in federal funding through the Dept of Housing and Urban Development’s Sustainable Communities Challenge Planning Grant for Transportation Corridors to Livable Communities planning project. The three-year planning process seeks to accomplish 3 things: conduct corridor studies to increase the effectiveness & efficiency of transit service on the Providence bus routes with the highest ridership, to create community hubs at key nodes along those corridors, & to rethink the Providence Zoning Ordinance as a tool to implement the corridor plans & the City’s overall livability and sustainability goals.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
Corridor planning unifies several of Providence’s economic, neighborhood, and community development efforts using the principles of livability and sustainability. The process is intended to develop transformational community hubs by finding opportunities to create high-density affordable housing, to catalyze job creation and workforce development, to provide increased access to arts and cultural experiences at key nodes along these corridors.
Have they changed over time?
At the time of submission, Providence was only in the early stages of the project.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
The Transportation Corridors to Livable Communities builds on the strong foundation of integrated planning that has already taken place in Providence. Developing livable streets that integrate creative placemaking strategies, a primary focus for the planning studies along these corridors, advances the city’s goals of building community and fostering neighborhood vitality through increased access and diversified cultural participation. Corridor planning will identify potential investments for creatively and strategically stimulating neighborhood-based solutions to serve existing and potential cultural hubs and creative clusters along the transit corridors effectively, encourage resource alignment, and develop innovative tools that help realize the livability principles guiding planning efforts. Of all of the busiest transit routes in Providence, the five corridors of Broad Street, North Main Street, Elmwood Avenue, Manton Avenue and Chalkstone Avenue were selected in part because of the availability of developable land for high-density housing, new businesses, and arts-oriented development.
Have they been refined over time?
Year One (2011) will focus largely on transit planning; Year Two (2012) will build on transit interests to plan nodes for housing, economic development, and arts and cultural activities; and, Year Three (2013) on updating Providence's Zoning Ordinance to reflect what was learned during years one and two.
What were your major obstacles?
Providence has a national reputation as a center for arts, culture, and creativity, yet analysis of cultural participation in the city reveals that barriers to participation do exist. The quality of life – economic and social – in Providence depends on all residents of the city having equitable access to arts and culture. The alternative risks excluding many members of the communities who call Providence home from achieving their full potential in education, work, and social networks. Monies can only be used for planning – and yet they have been clear about the City’s need to develop and meet performance metrics.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Participants at Creative Providence focus groups cited the city’s diversity and wide-range of cultural offerings as one of the community’s top strengths, greatest opportunities, and most challenging issues to work on through cultural planning. The focus groups most frequently cited the following challenges to participation: mobility (access to public transit and parking), education (lack of funding for schools, cuts to arts learning, low levels of educational achievement for some communities), access to affordable and reliable healthcare, and space (housing, work space, venues).
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
The bulk of the work had not been done at the time of this submission, so no suggestions as of yet.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
To be determined - the project is in process.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
To be determined - the project is in process.
Were there unexpected impacts?
To be determined - the project is in process.
CCX Workshop Handout