“Little Italy” Proposed as New Brand for Federal Hill
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Federal Hill business owner Gianfranco Marrocco has proposed rebranding the commercial district as “Little Italy,” in an effort to drive visitors — and business — to the area.
Marrocco made the proposal at an emergency meeting of the Federal Hill Commerce Association (FHCA) meeting at Roma on Tuesday, which was convened after Marrocco’s Hotel Dolce Vita was robbed over the weekend by two individuals in an assault caught on camera.
More than two dozen business owners and community leaders turned out, including members of the Providence Police Department to discuss not just issues of violence, but how to improve district in general.
The common theme? Getting rid of the parking meters put in by the city — and increase lighting and signage on the Hill, including Marrocco’s proposal.
“We have to get united and repel parking meters -- we don't want them” said Marrocco. “The fact that [the city] didn’t enforce meters during Christmas, they wanted to stimulate business in one month. So if we all put in $500, or $1000, or not have them, it’s not the dollar, two dollars [people have to pay the meters], it’s the mindset.”
“Downtown is exploding, we’re not. We have to find a way to tie ourselves to the city,” said Marrocco. “Even in the worst weather, people come. Everybody likes us in the whole world. When we have something, people come. But it shouldn’t be just October, but May, June, July. Let’s have Lao festivals, Portuguese. festivals — the city has already volunteered to close the streets.”
“So I’m proposing signs on 95 North and 95 South — which see over 110,000 cars a day, and Rt. 6 and Rt. 10 — I want next to the exit, ‘Little Italy,’ said Marrocco, who brought renderings of his proposed concept.
“Only Rhode Islanders know it as ‘The Hill.’ People know “Little Italys” — we need to start referring to that, come back to your roots. So I want a decal, next to the exit signs, ‘Little Italy.”
“How much can the decal cost? We need to connect to downtown — we have 80% occupancy downtown. How do we get them to the Hill? If we can light ‘Little Italy’ above the highway I’ve seen it in other cities, we’re not inventing the wheel. Now we’re the umbilical cord to the city — downtown is happening. Westminster is the Newbury Street of Providence.“
State Representative John Lombardi, who had made an impassioned speech at the beginning of the meeting, said he was on board with the idea.
“We keep hearing from administration that Atwells is the crown jewel - and the city gets 1% on taxes,” said Lombardi at the meeting’s outset, of getting more services from the city. “It’s no different than the parking meters, we were as loud as the East Side. How badly do you want it? We think we deserve it — we should get this.”
“Look, I’m fine with it,” said Lombardi following the meeting, when he was discussing with a handful of attendees setting up meetings with the Governor’s office and the Department of Transportation.
“You heard them, we’ve raised thousands of dollars in an hour,” said Rick Simone with the Federal Hill Commerce Association.
“It’s not brain surgery. The highway signs are already existing and our “decals" would cost peanuts,’ said Marrocco following the meeting. “The lighted signs are about $10K for both and today $6K was vouched by 6 of the 30 Federal Hill business members present. So I'm sure we can raise the rest — and the damm parking meters have to go!!”
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Lara Salamano: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Jocelyn Kelly: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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John Florez: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Vin Mesolella: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Dave Paolo: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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The Silks: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Ed Brady: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Colonel Ann Assumpico: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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Georgia Hollister Isman: 17 to Watch in 2017 in RI
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