downtown Providence

James Baumgartner / RIPR

The Providence City Council finance committee voted to approve a proposed downtown hotel Tuesday night. The project was proposed earlier this year, but movement on the issue was slow.

A local developer wants to build a nine-story hotel on the site of a now-vacant government building. The project was proposed this summer, but the city’s finance committee did not vote on it for several months. Local construction workers felt opposition by a hotel workers union seemed to be stalling the project.

Katherine Doherty

The din of trumpets, trombones, sousaphones, and bass drums rang out across the mouth of the Providence river on Monday as hundreds gathered for this year’s Pronk! festival. 

Lisa Williams / flickr

Downtown Providence might get a little noisy Monday as the Providence Honk Festival makes its annual parade through the city. The PRONK festival features a variety of marching bands and community groups. The groups will make their way from Kennedy Plaza to the mouth of Narragansett Bay.

The What Cheer? Brigade of Providence will be one of the bands taking part. Drummer Jori Ketten calls Pronk! an alternative street festival.

“A large part of the festival is about claiming the streets and spending time in the streets and reveling in the streets,” said Ketten.

John Bender / RIPR

There are a few less parking spaces in downtown Providence today. The city is taking part in the worldwide phenomenon known as Parking Day.

Parking Day is an event meant to promote awareness of the importance of parks and greenspace in cities.

Artists and designers have taken over dozens of parking spaces in the city, and transformed them into tiny parks. Most feature seating and greenery. Some offer ping pong, reading nooks, and even an outdoor café.

Organizer and landscape architect Jenn Judge says parks build community in urban areas.

The Providence Biltmore has completed a multi-million dollar renovation of its historic lobby and guest rooms, and other parts of the hotel.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s Scott MacKay said the 1922 hotel has a prominent place in Rhode Island political history, including several stays by John F. Kennedy.

The first Providence International Arts Festival, held last weekend, was such a success that Mayor Jorge Elorza is moving ahead with plans for another such celebration next year, said mayoral spokesman David Ortiz.

Thousands thronged a downtown transformed into a giant music stage and pedestrian arts mall last Saturday and Sunday. ``It met our expectations and we’re looking to grow it in the future,’’ said Ortiz.

The weather cooperated both days as the sun washed over downtown. ``We did get lucky,’’ acknowledged Ortiz.

John Bender / RIPR

A live camel made a quick stop in middle of downtown Providence this afternoon.  The eight-foot tall animal was visiting from Roger Williams Park Zoo, and greeted passersby in Kennedy Plaza. 

The zoo brought him out to drum up buzz for a new ‘ride-a-camel’ exhibit, and, of course, celebrate hump day.

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New details are emerging about a major arts festival scheduled in Providence this summer. The event is part of Mayor Jorge Elorza’s plan to develop the city into an artistic tourist destination. 



John Bender / RIPR

Roger Williams University is expanding its presence in Providence.  The school is moving into the former home of 38 Studios.

One Empire Plaza is best known as the headquarters for the now defunct videogame company 38 Studios. The building will house the Roger Williams; center for continuing studies, graduate programs, and the Latino Policy Insititute. President Donald Farish said the new location will better serve adult and non-traditional students.  “If we were doing things out of Bristol, we’d simply become inaccessible to huge portions of the state.”


The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority expects Kennedy Plaza in Providence to be ready for regular bus service in mid-January.  

The bus hub has been closed since the summer to accommodate safety and design improvements.  RIPTA says the project is taking longer than expected because of some needed changes.  The Kennedy Plaza improvements will include passenger-friendly shelters, lighted signage, trees, and automated ticketing machines.  

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is hosting a public meeting today to discuss the ongoing construction and proposed changes to the public bussing hub Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence.  There are some outspoken critics of the project.

The most vocal group, the RIPTA Riders Alliance says the project, which closes down some bus lanes, and relocates several bus stops is bad for passengers.   They say the changes will make it harder for riders, especially those who are older or handicapped, to make their buses safely and on time. 


The owner of the Superman Building in downtown Providence renewed his call Tuesday for a public-private partnership to revitalize the vacant skyscraper. But it remains unclear whether the state will provide $39 million in requested help.

It has become a Rhode Island cliché that Lincoln Chafee is a failed governor because he hasn’t done enough to create jobs in Rhode Island’s flagging economy.  This notion has been driven relentlessly by talk radio shills and the editorial and news pages of the state’s legacy print media outlets, some of which are groping for relevance in a reshaped media environment.


A bill that would use $39 million in taxpayers’ money to revitalize the vacant Superman Building is slated for a Senate Finance committee hearing this Tuesday.  Lawmakers have been lukewarm about using a public subsidy for the Providence skyscraper.

New Life For The 'Superman' Building?

Feb 11, 2014

There may be new hope for the tallest building in Rhode Island.  But efforts to rehab the so-called Superman building, in downtown Providence, failed just last year.

The 26 story building, built in 1928 went dark in April of last year, when its tenants, Bank of America, moved out. The owner, Massachusetts-based High Rock Development, proposed a plan to turn the office space into residences.