Riverside Square has long been the neglected stepchild of East Providence, Rhode Island.
As nearby Rumford has attracted lofts and restaurants, the Square has languished.
The cramped, two-story wooden shops are shabby. Mom-and-pop businesses come and go. The overgrown land next to the East Bay Bike Path has been a popular spot for drug dealers and vagrants. Vandalism has risen in the surrounding neighborhoods.
But there is hope for a turnaround. Three groups have come together to re-imagine what the Square could become. Led by the Riverside Renaissance Movement, the East Providence Arts Council, and the East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce are trying to breathe new life into what was once a thriving summer colony more than a century ago.
The City of East Providence just received a $15,000 Working Cities Challenge Grant, managed by the Boston Federal Reserve, to develop a plan for revitalizing the Square.