Providence officials to solicit public feedback for 10-year city plan

Updated at 4:37 p.m.

PROVIDENCE CITY LEADERS on Tuesday announced they will begin meeting with residents and local businesses to gather feedback to guide the next Comprehensive Plan, which must be updated every 10 years. Standing at the podium is Mayor Brett P. Smiley. / PBN PHOTO/CHRISTOPHER ALLEN

PROVIDENCE – Residents and local businesses will get their say in how the capital city will be developed over the next decade.

During a Tuesday press conference held at the Roger Williams Park Gateway Center on Broad Street, city leaders promised that the goals and strategies developed with input from residents and businesses will inform future economic and social development. The next 10-year city plan will address issues such as housing, transportation and economic growth that all Rhode Island municipalities are statutorily required to revisit.

“We will convene diverse perspectives,” said Director of Economic Development Cassandra Thomas. “[To] guide growth and innovation … instead of defining it.”

Mayor Brett P. Smiley said the next comprehensive plan “will lay the groundwork for what our city will look like in the years ahead.”

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Throughout this summer and fall there will be several “citywide convenings, neighborhood-based events, on-street engagement opportunities and digital engagement opportunities,” according to a city press release.

A draft plan will then be developed before a formal public review process begins in 2024 by the City Plan Commission, the City Council, and the state of Rhode Island, all of whom must approve the formalized plan by January 2025.

City Council President Rachel Miller said the 10-year update is “vitally relevant to Providence’s future.”

Over the next several months, city officials will be “coming to a neighborhood near you,” she said. The council is planning to hold a community workshop in every city ward.

“This process cannot happen without the full participation of our residents,” Miller said.

The first open house will take place on June 22 at the Providence Career and Technical Academy at 6 p.m.

“Pre-engagement” listening sessions and surveys were conducted in 2022, said Smiley, who characterized Tuesday’s announcement as a second phase to more proactively solicit public opinion.

“We are not just going to be waiting for people to come to us,” he said.

Asked if city staff plan on engaging the city’s homeless population for their thoughts, Smiley said representatives will be visiting community centers and temporary shelters to get the word out but will likely not be going to homeless encampments given their “fluid” nature.

Economic shifts boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic have made certain work trends that were thought to be temporary permanent, he added, such as the growth of remote work and the rise of multiuse commercial developments.

Though short on details on his personal preferences, Smiley mentioned increased housing density, environmental sustainability and improved public transportation as notable goals.

“This is our opportunity to think different about the economy of the next decade,” he said.

City Planning Director Joe Mulligan said that while the previous plan, a 300-plus-page document adopted in 2014 under the administration of Angel Taveras, focused on a revitalized downtown, the I-95 district and the city’s “neighborhood corridors,” the 2025 document will be about “housing, mobility and sustainability,” utilizing in-depth planning exercises and “acknowledging what hasn’t worked in the past.”

For more information on the Comprehensive Plan, visit

(Update: Lead recast for tightening purposes)

Christopher Allen is a PBN staff writer. You may contact him at 

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