Grants Aim to Assist the Redevelopment of Commercial Areas of RI Communities
Governor Gina M. Raimondo joined with city officials today to tour Main Street in East Greenwich, one of seven projects chosen to receive Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement Funds.
"The Main Streets in our cities and towns are hubs of economic growth - and the places where we can all come together," said Raimondo. "These projects will put Rhode Islanders to work improving our commercial districts and continue to enhance the quality of life in our communities. It's no surprise that we received such an enthusiastic response to the first round of funding, with more than three times more demand than supply."
The East Greenwich project, one of several municipal development projects to be awarded a grant from the fund, aims to repair the sidewalk and trees on Main Street in order to support both accessible and sustainable infrastructure in the town's storied commercial district.
"These streets - Rhode Island's 'Main Streets' - are the arteries of commerce for our cities and towns," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "We need to ensure that they're healthy and ready to support the stores, restaurants, and other vital enterprises that do business there every day. This program is helping our municipalities enhance their business districts in ways that are locally designed and locally impactful. Under the Governor's leadership and with the support of the General Assembly, we're glad to support small businesses in our state through new and growing initiatives such as 'concierge service' technical assistance, loan financing, innovation vouchers, and these improvements to our Main Streets."
"Main Street in East Greenwich is the heart of our historic district and the commercial spine of our central business district. It is an employment center for local residents and a destination for people from around the state to shop, dine and recreate. The improvements we are about to undertake will augment the sense of place and create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere that should bring a correlated boost to the economy," said East Greenwich Town Manager Thomas E. Coyle III. "Thanks to the grant and our matching funds, we hope to capitalize on the unique physical and social aspects that make Downtown East Greenwich a vital, attractive place where people go to interact and access a wide variety of services."
The Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement Fund awards grants or loans on a competitive basis for improvements to commercial districts. Funding is available for projects that improve the streetscape, such as enhanced sidewalks, new street furniture, new wayfinding signage, upgraded building facades or improved street lighting. Applicants must have matching funds of at least 30 percent of the total project cost, though matching funds can take multiple forms.
The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation recommended that its Board of Directors select seven inaugural recipients of awards under the Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement Fund. The Corporation received 18 applications seeking over $3.4 million in funding. The 7 awards recommended total just under $1 million, which is the amount appropriated for this program for the current fiscal year.
The full list of projects awarded funding this year is below: • $32,400 to improve the sidewalk and trees on Main Street in East Greenwich in order to support both accessible and sustainable infrastructure in the town's storied commercial district; • $80,000 to improve wayfinding signage to direct visitors along Routes 114 and 136 to the downtown commercial district and available public parking in Bristol; • $300,000 toward facade improvements along Dexter Street, a public art installation to conceal overhead wires and the provision of free public Wi-Fi within the commercial district of Central Falls; • $108,000 to ONE Neighborhood Builders to put toward upgrades to bus stops to improve shelter infrastructure in Olneyville Square in Providence; • $245,000 to replace derelict storefronts on the ground level of the Pawtucket's main municipal parking garage with landscaping, install a wayfinding station outside of the garage and implement a two-way traffic pattern on Main Street. Lighting inside the garage will be upgraded to promote visibility and safety; • $76,000 to the Providence Foundation for the installment of wayfinding signage around downtown Providence to direct foot and vehicle traffic to downtown commercial destinations, transit centers and landmarks; • $70,000 for landscaping installations and the creation of drop-off areas and handicap accessibility to slow traffic, as well as curbing upgrades, in Woonsocket's Arts District.