Providence breaks ground on $3.25 million renovation of Elmwood Community Center

A PROVIDENCE COMMUNITY CENTER at 85 Atlantic Ave. which has stood empty since July 2019 is undergoing a $3.25 million renovation, with the goal of bringing the facility back to life by summer 2023. / SCREEN CAPTURE VIA GOOGLE MAPS

PROVIDENCE — A community center in Lower South Providence that has been closed since July 2019 is undergoing a $3.25 million renovation aimed at bringing the facility back to life by summer of next year, according to city officials.

“The Elmwood Community Center is an important neighborhood institution, and it’s exciting to bring it back to life,” Mayor Jorge O. Elorza said after a recent groundbreaking ceremony at the site. “Combined with the transformation of our parks system, we continue to invest in neighborhood spaces that bring the community together. … It’s a great day for the city and for the south side.

The two-story brick building at 85 Atlantic Ave., which closed three years ago due to health and safety concerns, was last used by the Community Action Partnership of Providence, an agency of social services which operated a food pantry and other initiatives at the site. The social services agency moved some of the services it provided there to its main office at 518 Hartford Ave.

Elorza’s office said renovations to the property included modifications to the second-floor meeting room, which can accommodate up to 300 people for events and community gatherings. The renovation of the property will also include improved ventilation systems, increased energy efficiency, improved plumbing, new electrical and fire extinguishing systems, improved sports facilities, new interior and exterior finishes and renovated toilets which meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The renovations are being carried out by Martone Construction of Narragansett.

Elorza’s office said the renovation project will be documented on a new city infrastructure project dashboard, which can be viewed online at www.providenceri.gov/infrastructure.

The dashboard is intended to make information about city-funded construction projects more transparent and accessible, the mayor’s office said.

According to the Elorza office, approximately $3 million in funding for the project comes from the Providence Capital Improvement Plan and the city’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funding. Another $250,000 comes from a municipal resilience grant through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, which is being used to purchase a backup generator for the installation as part of the renovation project.

In addition to serving as a venue for community events and youth programs, the Elorza office said it will be designated as a “resilience center” to help city residents in times of disaster.

“Becoming a resilience center allows the community center to coordinate the distribution of resources and services before, during or after a natural disaster event,” the Elorza office said.

Sen. Ana Quezada, D-Providence, said she looks forward to the property becoming active again as a resource for the community beginning in the summer of 2023.

“The neighborhood of Elmwood has been waiting for these community center investments, and I appreciate the city’s work in making them happen,” Quezada said. “I can’t wait for this building to host community meetings and youth programs again.”

Marc Larocque is an editor at PBN. Contact him at [email protected] You can also follow him on Twitter @LaRockPBN.

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Jill E. Washington