Providence announces $17M budget for Kennedy Plaza redesign

BUSES STOPPING at Kennedy Plaza in Providence would be moved to the outer edges of the bus depot there under a $140 million plan to revitalize the plaza that was unveiled March 10. /PBN FILE PHOTO/ELIZABETH GRAHAM

PROVIDENCE – Amid plans to shift a majority of buses out of Kennedy Plaza the city of Providence is forging ahead with a $16.8 million project to revitalize the space’s appearance and purpose.

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza in an announcement Thursday offered details of the three-phase improvement project, which will include aesthetic and functional improvements to greater Kennedy Plaza designed to foster community space, pedestrian access and climate resilience. The scope of work will include Waterplace Park and the Downtown RiverWalk, the BankNewport Skating Rink, Memorial Boulevard and Exchange Terrace tunnels, and the central plaza area within Kennedy Plaza

The city has already allocated $7.5 million for the project in its current Capital Improvement Plan, with an additional $5.3 million proposed for future CIP plans, according to Katherine Hypolite, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Planning and Development. The final $4 million in project funding is slated to come from the R.I. State Transportation Improvement Program.

The city unveiled a master plan calling for a Kennedy Plaza redesign in 2017, with a first-phase cost of $5 million. The master plan is separate from the latest proposal for Kennedy Plaza, and was put on hold as the R.I Department of Transportation reworked its own plans for a downtown transit system, Hypolite said. 

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RIDOT recently unveiled its proposal for a multi-hub bus system across downtown which would distribute roughly 75% of routes currently ending at Kennedy Plaza to new bus hubs at Providence Station and the edge of the Providence Innovation & Design District. 

The city and its hired consultant, London-based firm Arup Group which is known for redeveloping King’s Cross rail station in London, are working to create an interactive website portal that will allow the community to offer input on elements of the 8.6-acre site slated for redevelopment. There will also be a “robust public engagement process” through regular consultations with stakeholders and residents, the city said.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at

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