Providence is planning a $4M food and drink pavilion next to the new pedestrian bridge

The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission is looking to make another change to Providence’s waterfront space with the addition of a $4-million food and drink pavilion.

Details so far are sparse, as district leaders still need to find an operator and work out the design. But the idea is to bring year-round food service to Innovation District Park, the seven acres on both sides of the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge. The pavilion would take up about 4,000 square feet. Funding for the project was included in the beach, clean water and green bond that voters approved last year.

In a community meeting Monday, Ben Donsky of Agora Partners, which the commission hired as a consultant, said “our analysis shows that at least lunch and dinner seven days a week and breakfast and brunch on the weekends would all be viable, but in terms of any specific type of cuisine, we’re very, very open.”

The view southwest from the eastern side of the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge in July 2020.
The view southwest from the eastern side of the Providence River Pedestrian Bridge in July 2020.

Timeline for the Innovation District Park pavilion

According to a presentation, the pavilion may include sit-down and takeout food service, along with public restrooms. Outreach is being done among local businesses, and no national chains have been contacted.

Caroline Skuncik, the district’s executive director, said the goal is to break ground in spring 2023 and open the area to customers in 2024.

Several architects are in the running to design the pavilion: Architecture Research Office in New York, Mathison Mathison Architects in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Studio Luz Architects in Boston, Studio Cooke John in New York, and 3SIX0 Architecture, which has offices in Providence and New York.

Outdoor dining space inspired by other cities

The district is looking to multiple parks in New York City, including Madison Square Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Domino Park as inspiration for its concessions plan. It also pointed to other examples in Philadelphia, Detroit and Newark, all of which feature sleek outdoor dining space.

Discussion on the pavilion comes after district commissioners selected a developer for waterfront apartments on Parcel 2, a piece of land between South Main and South Water streets.

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East Side residents concerned about river views

In true not-in-my-backyard fashion, a handful of residents on the city’s East Side criticized the project as an obstruction of their views of the river. It remains to be seen whether any such opposition would crop up again. However, one resident, Michelle Barvich, whose home looks out onto the pedestrian bridge, wondered whether she would lose her view.

“I’m very curious as to where this is going to be positioned because I have a beautiful view of the bridge and the walkway,” she said, adding that “on both sides of the bridge … yes, there are some businesses, but a lot of the residents, we’re facing the bridge.”

Skuncik said the district has not yet determined an exact location but would do so during the design phase.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Providence to host $4M food and drink pavilion by pedestrian bridge