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Garris

Random Providence Thoughts

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Hi everyone,

I spent a good part of Saturday wandering downtown and thought I'd post some random observations to try to generate conversation... I was out and about from about 10 AM to 3 PM looking for new photo opportunities (regrettably wasted, as most of my photos will be unpostable... The afternoon lighting was just too harsh on this cloudless day). That said:

- There were J&W and RISD students out and about downtown everywhere... Good stuff! Some of the J&W students on Weybosset can be somewhat, ah, forward, if not occasionally pushy...

- In fact, the downtown walking population was really high everywhere with people of all ages, even on Westminster as early as 10 AM! Lots of people browsing Symposium, a few people in Tazza, and even the Arcade had a steady stream of shoppers. Downcity appeared to be doing well, there were many folks in Cilantro, and Kennedy Plaza was active. Burnside Park actually had normal looking people just walking though on their daily business, with no one loitering. Just this little burbling of vitality makes the still in-progress downtown feel like a totally different place... I can't wait until all the projects are done. Wow!

- The DID is doing their job... Downtown is really clean!

- Boy, there's a ton of parking downtown. I mean, really, there is. Tons of garages, tons of surface parking spaces. What we need is better signage directing people there... There is no downtown parking shortage, that's for sure...

- Cotuit is right, the "Lunch Box" Cape transplant next to the Arcade rocks. That might be the tightest rolled wrap I've ever had. Really delicious... I hope they are doing well!

- The stairway in the Arcade has some tremendous historic photos of the place, including some amazing hurriane flood photos from earlier in the last century...

- The coming City Cafe space is shaping up nicely...

- The Peerless storefronts look great. I can't wait until the retail moves in.

- Grant's Block is going to be huge. No matter how tall it is, that piece of property is so central and prominent on both Westminster and Weybosset streets that a good building there will do wonders for both neighborhoods. I can't wait!

- Washington Street has huge potential, much of it thus far untapped. I hope the Providence renaissance train has enough steam to make it to Washington after Westminster and Weybosset bounce back...

- A building we don't talk enough about, the Providence Public Library is beautiful, as is the Trinity Rep...

- Empire Street even feels scary during the day!

- Ok, so why can't Cathedral Square be bulldozed? I mean, I walked it today, and it doesn't seem like, for a road project, it'd be that hard! And those building there, which aren't the best, I think would actually have their looks improved by having them front a street rather than a brick plaza... They'd do better as "urban" buildings rather than "campus" buildings...

- The Waterplace condos are really going to change the feel of the Capitol District. Their height and position will tie that part of the city, which feels a tad separate right now, into the rest of the downtown visually and thematically. Add the eventual (and critical) Intercontinental, and downtown will nearly be seamless...

- The G-Tech glass isn't as reflective as I'd hoped... Thankfully, the position of that building still just really works well... Oh, and it's tower is going to be visible from many parts of the city...

- Prov Place is worth every penny to the city... The number of people it draws to the downtown (and thus the number of people positively exposed to the downtown) is enormous. You can't buy such good publicity otherwise...

- You know what, that old theater building off Westminster (sorry, forgot the name) next to Hotel Providence now housing the Chinese restaurant really would be an absolutely perfect place for a boutique movie house... Too bad...

- The Prov Journal surface parking lot is a civic crime...

- I saw a Duck Tours bus go by me today, absolutely packed with people... Good sign...

- I think Cotuit mentioned this and is absolutely correct: downtown needs an ice cream place... Put it on Weybosset across from J&W and then proceed to mint money...

- Best downtown signage awards (not hard to win right now) go to Hotel Providence's sleek Westminster vertical sign and Downcity Restaurants cool large fork above the door.

That's all for now!

- Garris

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Empire St. scary? How come?

On another note, I've been home from school this weekend with my roomate (a native NYCer), and we walked around downtown Friday afternoon while waiting to pick up a friend at the train station. He had quite a few positive comments about Providence, including:

-that he liked it cause it felt like a "real city", unlike Albany

-Waterplace Park was awesome and majestic

-the Arcade was awesome

-Federal Hill was amazing, amazing food (we went to Caserta's and Scialo Bros.), amazing streetlife and very cool how it had a real Italian plaza and lots of authenticity.

-overall impressed with all the construction going on

-thought the mall was the best one he'd ever seen, since you don't have to go inside it to get to all the restaurants and some stores.

I thought this was really good to hear, especially coming from someone who is from the Bronx.

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- Best downtown signage awards (not hard to win right now) go to Hotel Providence's sleek Westminster vertical sign

Isn't that sign awesome, unfortunately the trees make it all but invisible (I'm not saying we should lose any trees though).

On another note, I've been home from school this weekend with my roomate (a native NYCer), and we walked around downtown Friday afternoon while waiting to pick up a friend at the train station. He had quite a few positive comments about Providence, including:

I had a friend from NYC here last year, total Manhattanite who blanched at the though of the outer boroughs, who had wonderful things to say about Providence, he loved it.

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Hi everyone,

- Grant's Block is going to be huge. No matter how tall it is, that piece of property is so central and prominent on both Westminster and Weybosset streets that a good building there will do wonders for both neighborhoods. I can't wait!

- Washington Street has huge potential, much of it thus far untapped. I hope the Providence renaissance train has enough steam to make it to Washington after Westminster and Weybosset bounce back...

- - The Waterplace condos are really going to change the feel of the Capitol District. Their height and position will tie that part of the city, which feels a tad separate right now, into the rest of the downtown visually and thematically. Add the eventual (and critical) Intercontinental, and downtown will nearly be seamless...

- The G-Tech glass isn't as reflective as I'd hoped... Thankfully, the position of that building still just really works well... Oh, and it's tower is going to be visible from many parts of the city...

- Prov Place is worth every penny to the city... The number of people it draws to the downtown (and thus the number of people positively exposed to the downtown) is enormous. You can't buy such good publicity otherwise...

-

- Garris

Some comments about your comments:

When I was in Providence last week I spend hours walking from the Holiday Inn Downtown through the PowerBlock, Waterplace, Memorial Drive, the Financial District, Westminster and Weybosset and back again.

There is no doubt that with OTW, the Lofts, and Grant's Block (I believe it wil turn out to be a 22-25 floor building) will revive and restore Westminster and Weybosset to perhaps the equal of it's "glory days"....it will be alive, safe, fun, and drive all kinds of variety in tems of business.

The aterplace condos will do just that...provide a northern edge to the Downcity that is consistant; especially with the addition of Intercontinental hotel (especially is it is 15-17 floors).

I wish the G-Tech building had more concrete/brick/stone and less glass...but it is a great addition to the area.

Providence Place Mall...absolutely true...outstanding!

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