Officials ask DOT to make Smithfield intersection two-way

At the initiative of City Councilman Kevin Jackson the Providence City Council has approved a resolution that the intersection at Smithfield Ave. and North Main Street be made into a two-way connection. State Representative Gordon Fox has formally requested that the RI Dept. of Transportation, which controls both streets, begin work leading to the change. Continue reading


Survey says: Fix Smithfield Ave.

Most folks think the Smithfield Avenue intersection on North Main can’t get much worse than it is, while a gloomy few think it could if made two-way.

Summit Neighborhood Assocation’s unscientific survey of readers via newsletter, email and this web site on whether to make the one-way intersection into a conventional two-way connection drew 35 online respondents and five mailed responses. Only five said “no,” while 30 said “yes.” Five people hit the “don’t know” button. Continue reading

New Max Formal sign has Obama link

Max Formal sign

For 56 years since 1953, Max Formal Company has supplied linens and clothing on North Main Street.  Now, a new sign on the south wall of its building at 1164 North Main beckons new shoppers to the store.  But this is no ordinary sign.  It was designed by Obama campaign poster creator Shepard Fairey, whom owners Paul and Debbie Formal have known since he was a student at RISD.  In addition, Paul employed Miriam Jackson, a local artist, to hand-paint the sign on the wall.  Local art + local business = winning formula.

Aaron Masri

Housing Workshop Tuesday, November 11

You can’t build a neighborhood without neighbors. Could new market-based and workforce-affordable housing be the key to re-creating a lively retail and entertainment district along North Main Street?

Join us at the offices of the Providence Center, 528 North Main Street, opposite Whole Foods and University Heights for a workshop on the potential for new residential development on North Main Street. Amy Rainone of Rhode Island Housing will be an expert guest. We’ll also be joined by housing developers from Providence community development organizations which have had success with mixed residential-commercial projects.

Early replies favor intersection change

As of Sunday, we have had 26 folks weigh in on the idea of making the Smithfield Ave. intersection with North Main Street two-way. While not conclusive, only a small number object and those on the basis of specific concerns that would have to be addressed by engineering studies before the project could go ahead. We’ll continue to ask for responses and in particular ask for North Main business people to participate.

Our survey question:

1. Assuming traffic safety standards are met, would you support changing this one-way intersection at North Main and Smithfield Avenue to two-way? 

YES – 19
NO – 4

Comments suggest issues that any engineering study would need to evaluate, including making it safer for pedestrians on North Main to cross Smithfield Ave, providing continued access to the Peter Pan Bus station and preventing new traffic bottlenecks and long wait times. An interesting question is whether Frost Street, which is also one-way for one block as it enters North Main, should also be made two-way if we change Smithfield. Read complete comments: Continue reading

Stakeholders open to master plan for Sear and Shaws site

The three largest landholders in the largely underused areas north of Smithfield Avenue and west of North Main Street have agreed in principle to participate in a joint master planning process should one be developed. So have the city planning departments of both Providence and Pawtucket. After hearing about these conversations from North Main Street Project consultant Jonathan Harris at our October 7 meeting, City Councilman Kevin Jackson and State Representative Gordon Fox agreed to support SNA should it decide to undertake a planning project. The issue will be taken up on Oct 27 at the next SNA Board meeting and revisited at the next North Main Street workshop on Nov. 11. Continue reading

Oct. 7: Problems and potential at Sears


For decades now, the empty Sears has symbolized neglect of North Main Street.

In the minds of many neighbors one empty building, the abandoned former Sears department store, is both the leading cause and major consequence of North Main’s problems. Yet, big as it is, this property is just one corner of a vast swath of unused and under-used land and buildings that includes the former Shaws Plaza and abandoned buildings all the way to and across the Pawtucket City Line.

Please join us on Tuesday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at the offices of Jewish Family Services, 959 North Main Street, for a presentation and discussion on the problems holding this area back and the potential for breaking the development deadlock. Continue reading