It would be a stretch to say that Thayer Street in Providence’s College Hill neighborhood and Main Street in Woonsocket are two peas in a pod.
Many Thayer Street merchants want a more diverse mix of customers and stores, driven by the increasing dominance of the college crowd. City planners have a January deadline to produce a plan for more residential development and larger retail spaces.
Down-on-its luck Woonsocket has seen efforts to rebuild its downtown. And now a plan to bring a large number of recent college graduates to the city center may be the spark that ignites a renaissance there.
The proposal calls for buying a partially redeveloped mill in downtown and filling it with the recent students and then connecting them with employers and continuing education opportunities. If successful, more investment in more diverse projects likely will follow.
Both cities bear further observation and discussion, to see if lessons learned there can be applied to more Main Streets in Rhode Island. •