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Paxson, Taveras to launch new Thayer St. rollout

Commercial district revamp funded by U., city, community sources as part of ongoing project

President Christina Paxson and Mayor Angel Taveras will cut a ribbon to symbolize the official opening of the “new and improved” Thayer Street commercial district on Sept. 28 during the Festival Fete Thayer Street art festival, said Donna Personeus, executive director for the Thayer Street District Management Authority.

In May, after 18 months of planning by city officials, the University and other stakeholders from Thayer Street and the surrounding area, Paxson and Taveras announced several planned changes for the commercial district. The College Hill Neighborhood Association also provided input, Personeus said.

Providence, the TSDMA and the University funded the revamp project, Taveras said during the announcement ceremony in May.

“Without each one of these players, none of this would have happened,” Personeus said. “It was crucial that each one of these groups stepped up, and when we needed somebody, they were there.”

Construction on the roads and sidewalks began shortly after the announcement, followed by the development of bump-outs, green spaces and public seating areas.

Throughout the redevelopment process, the TSDMA “made a big effort” to inform the public which roads were blocked and which businesses remained open, Personeus said.

“The majority of work that would affect students was done when students weren’t going to be (on campus) on purpose,” she added. “There was a lot of planning to make it as painless as possible.”

All the work on Thayer Street is on schedule and within budget, wrote Bonnie Nickerson, director of the long-range planning division for the Providence Department of Planning and Development, in an email to The Herald.

Over the next few weeks, new signage, parking meters, benches and bicycle parking will also be installed, she added.

Other future projects include the construction of a bike repair station and the improvement of trees, Personeus said, adding that these developments may take a year to complete.

Thayer Street does not only serve Brown students, Paxson said in May. “This street represents an intersection of people from very different backgrounds — it’s Brown and (the Rhode Island School of Design) and (the Wheeler School), and business owners and people who live in the community, sometimes for many generations.”

Another project in the works is a parklet — parking spaces converted into a public seating area in front of the Brown Bookstore. Providence and the TSDMA invested $10,000 in the parklet, which “can be taken out in the winter when the weather gets bad,” Personeus said.

Built in two sections by Orion Red, the parklet will be installed in time for the festival — an event that will feature work by local artists, live music and entertainment, she added.



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