Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Providence Moves Highway, Improves Connectivity and Economy

In a move that will likely encourage other cities to follow its example, city leaders in Providence, Rhode Island, have decided to relocate a major highway from the heart of downtown to its outskirts.  Providence is also the city which, two decades earlier, uncovered two rivers it had previously paved over--the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck Rivers--repointing their convergence for aesthetic reasons.  For a full report about the highway relocation, see Elizabeth Abbot, Removing a Barrier:  Relocating an Interstate Allows a New England City to Reconnect, New York Times (Nov. 11, 2009).  Officials hope to entice Brown University and Johnson & Wales (the culinary college) to purchase parcels in the shadows of where the highway once stood.  This area, also known as the Jewelry District, was originally connected to downtown Providence before the construction of the highway.  Once built, the highway severed this connection.  Following demolition of the old highway, Providence will begin work on establishing a new street grid.  In addition to reconnecting the area to downtown, the new street grid will connect the District to the waterfront.  Providence envisons there a new city park complete with an amphitheater and sculpture garden.  Local neighborhood groups are in the process of lobbying for a new transport hub, one that would include ferries.  Although completing these projects will take time in light of Providence's deteriorating economy, it is hoped that improved land use--achieved using New Urbanist principles--will yield economic benefits in the years to come.

Will Cook, Charleston School of Law

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Johnson & Wales is much more than "the culinary college." It was started by two women in 1914 as a business "jobs" school for women. In was reincarnated in 1947 by two Navy buddies—an engineer and an accountant. It never stopped focusing on jobs and expanded that vision to careers. It was a business school that became a junior college, a college and today, a university including the College of Business, College of Culinary Arts (the first school in the country to offer a degree program, thus the fame), The Hospitality College and the School of Technology. There are campuses in Charlotte, North Miami and Denver in addition to Providence.
If you want to talk land use, J&W rescued downtown Providence and many of its historic buildings, from deterioration and blight by putting them to use to create a campus in its urban center. It is reclaiming EPA brownfields for its harborside extension which includes the first LEED certified educational structure for the culinary arts in the nation.
The Harborside campus began in 1973 in a restaurant supply company and warehouse adjacent to the fuel tanks and shipyards that serve the Port of Providence and once saw the manufacture of Liberty ships. Campus, future ballfields, recreation center, newest and older residence halls, graduate school and Culinary Museum share a common mission with Save the Bay educational center housed on a stand of land overlooking Narragansett Bay. The two nonprofits—JWU and Save the Bay— are partnering to restore their common waterfront property to provide nature trails and playing grounds for both the university and the neighboring communities.

Posted by: Catherine Sengel | Nov 12, 2009 7:17:07 AM

that's a good example, but not easy to do it.

Posted by: hospitality college | Dec 9, 2009 12:40:46 AM