Providence’s “Second Downtown” Gains Beautification, Investment and a New Brand

PROVIDENCE, RI – Once known as Providence’s “Second Downtown”, Olneyville Square, in Providence’s far West End, is experiencing a comeback. Recent public and private investment is making its mark in the area, and bringing with it a renewed sense of community and increased awareness.

This month, Olneyville Housing Corporation (OHC) and the Square One committee, a group of business owners and stakeholders in the district, revealed a new brand identity for the area. The new identity marks a milestone in efforts to tie together Olneyville Square’s business community. The marketing effort comes alongside other Square improvements including new street lights, hanging flower baskets and traffic island flower beds, and soon steel-cut banners along the main street, designed by a local artist. One Olneyville, a social enterprise landscaping company managed through OHC, has been contracted to maintain the district.

“Olneyville Square is a vibrant business district with a lot of character and diversity,” stated Jennifer Hawkins, associate executive director of OHC. “While many businesses have been here a long time, in recent years, new investors and businesses have really taken an interest in the area. They see an opportunity and have helped bring new energy and people to the district. Our efforts have coincided with this trend, and we hope can continue to support this progressive growth.”

The Olneyville Square businesses include seasoned establishments, a recently awarded restaurant, and newly located merchants. Along with the well-known Olneyville New York SystemWes’ Rib House just completed an expansion, and La Lupita was recently awarded “Best Tacos in America” as reported by Huffington Post and epicurous.comEl Rodeo, a western apparel shop, recently relocated to Olneyville from Central Falls. The Peruvian owner felt Olneyville offered more opportunity for his eight-year-old retail business. Another recently opened merchant is House Resale Gallery, a vintage furniture consignment shop. These complement the long standing Hot Fashion and Mariluz Party Store.

While the Dirt Palace, an artist collective in the center of the Square has been anchoring the area for some time, creative businesses such as Birchwood Design Group, a landscape architect firm, and Yellow Peril Gallery, featuring contemporary works of art, contribute to the mix. Nightlife in the district took a big boost when Fete Music bought, renovated and opened just off the main street, bringing nationally touring acts and local music shows. With the recent addition of Justine’s, a hip cocktail lounge in a recently acquired main street building – the district is becoming a new city destination afterhours.

“Some of us have been in Olneyville Square a long time, and know the ups and downs over the years,” stated Michael Solomon, owner of Wes’ Rib House. “Right now, it feels like there’s a critical mass of support and energy of partners and new investments that are making a big difference in the right direction. It’s a good time to be in Olneyville Square.”

Olneyville Square: Culture. Industry. Nightlife.

Olneyville Square is the business district at the intersection of eight main thoroughfares traveling through the Olneyville neighborhood in Providence.  It has long been the industrial, commercial, cultural and transportation hub of the entire west side of the city, connecting the West End, Silver Lake, Smith Hill, Mt. Pleasant, Valley and Manton neighborhoods.

For more information on the district’s recent investments, initiatives and new brand identity, contact Chris Ackley at 351-8719,, or

Olneyville Housing Corporation

Celebrating 25 years, Olneyville Housing Corporation (OHC) promotes the comprehensive revitalization of the Olneyville neighborhood in Providence. The nonprofit community development corporation’s mission is to work with residents to build a safe, health and stable community. Learn more at

OHC’s work in the Olneyville Square business district is supported through a Consolidated Neighborhood Opportunity Grant of Community Development Block Grant Funds from the City of Providence.

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