After listening to the 90-minute presentation, members of the audience who spoke expressed a love of parks and open space, but a fear of heights. ... The urban planners said there are ways for the city to grow taller and more pedestrian-friendly at the same time.
Providence officials hired Sasaki Associates of Boston to develop plans for a portion of the city center. Part of the proposal would include first-floor shops and restaurants, as well as lining streets with treets and lights.
As I've written before, New Urbanist planners are absolutely correct that a "sense of enclosure" is critical for a streetscape that people will actual use, as opposed to putting in sidewalks that few people walk on unless they absolutely have to. If you want a thriving retail district, whether a town center or city downtown, you need to do more than just put in sidewalks -- even if those sidewalks "meet code." Trees can help offer pedestrians an appealing environment in a smaller commercial center that doesn't have the kind of critical mass of population density and public transportation that downtown Boston or midtown Manhattan do.