Historic Arcade reopens in Providence

The first 11 of 17 shops and restaurants in the newly renovated Arcade mall officially opened for business Monday after a more than $7 million project that state and city officials held up as a highlight of economic development efforts.

Building owner Evan Granoff was joined by Mayor Angel Taveras, Gov. Lincoln Chafee and business owners for the reopening of the historic Arcade. The indoor mall, once a retail hub in Providence's downtown, had been closed since 2008. The Arcade was built in 1828 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A coffee shop and bar, art gallery, jewelry store, bike store and clothing shops - including one co-run by former "Project Runway" contestant and Rhode Islander Jonathan Joseph Peters - are among the new tenants. The building will also have two more eateries and 48 residential micro-lofts ranging in size from 225 to 450 square feet.

"With the opening of the Arcade, we are injecting new life into the center of downtown," Granoff said at the ribbon-cutting, adding that he believes the mixed-use nature of the project will ensure its economic viability.

"There are 11 new businesses here, and you can clap for that," Taveras told the crowd gathered outside the building on Westminster Street. "There are more to come."

Granoff had hoped to reopen the Arcade last year but the project took longer than expected.

Jessica Ricci had a studio at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket where she fashioned jewelry made from objects found in bazaars and flea markets around the world, but she decided to open Jessica Ricci Jewelry at the Arcade so she could open her first store in the historic location.

Ricci, who grew up in Providence and still lives in the city, remembers going to the Arcade with her family when she was little to eat and buy stickers. Granoff's rejuvenation of the building has made it even better, she said.

"I'm beyond thrilled," Ricci said.

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