Downtown Warren: Warren, Rhode Island
The eco-haven of downtown Warren is ideal for bikers and foodies alike. The tiny downtown area and its highly involved community have set the green standard for active living, while local foods have set the stage for a story of urban renewal.
This neighborhood is enclosed by Warren Bridge and Belcher Cove to the north, Cutler Street to the east, Bridge Street to the south, and the Palmer River to the west.
Warren is the smallest town in the smallest county in the smallest state — and proud of it. The tiny downtown neighborhood of just over 1,200 is an all-hands-on-deck endeavor, with highly involved community that brings life to a small Rhode Island town.
From politics to community improvement, the local population is committed to preserving its heritage. The voluntary historic district has a robust cadre of property owners dedicated to preserving the historic fabric of the community and the dense development patterns of the past.
The sleepy downtown area of Warren is defined by its well-kept standalone bike trail, the East Bay Bike Path, running right through the middle. Not only is it a central feature of the active neighborhood, but it provides Downtown Warren with connectivity to the rest of Rhode Island, connecting north and south to Providence and Bristol.
Planning has provided for the extension and improvement of the bike path and recreational facilities, such as Jamiel's Park, formerly a landfill and now an active community hub. For residents who eschew the two-wheeled method of transportation, downtown also features easy public transit access to and from Providence, Newport, and Bristol, and prioritizes walking as a way to travel the neighborhood.
Myriad farm-to-table restaurants, marine-related businesses, and local shops are the centerpiece of the neighborhood economy. A local foods campaign begun in 2010 led to the creation of Hope & Main, a food startup and incubator space for new restaurants in the town. Discover Warren, Hope & Main, and other community groups have worked to revive the business community. For this tiny New England town, food systems have provided the foundation for delicious economic revitalization.
Defining Characteristics, Features
- The town has an extensive environmental plan to mitigate polluted runoff into the surrounding bays and a program to create incentives for residents to add solar panels to their property.
- Warren boasts a strong Native American heritage as the original site of the great Wampanoag village of Sowams.
- Downtown Warren is home to one of the oldest working waterfronts, with strong community support for public access.
- The population of downtown Warren has a higher number of Hispanic and Latino residents than the surrounding towns and area. Downtown is home to many low- and moderate-income residents and carless households.
- A robust art scene has formed, especially around preservation of historic sites. The neighborhood has rehabbed and renovated four old industrial buildings into craftsman workshops, offices, and retail markets. A fifth mixed-use renovation is under way at the northern gateway to town.
- Neighborhood performance art and community programming includes a summer concert series at the Burr’s Hill Park Band Shell, the Galactic Theater, and 2nd Story Theater.
- At Bristol/Warren Art Night, art-makers, advocates, and businesses owners collaborate to support the creative community and the cultural and economic vitality of Bristol and Warren with free, affordable, and open educational programs involving all ages.
- Attendees can ride the free trolley or stroll through town visiting artist studios and shops on select Thursday evenings June through September.
- Warren Quahog and Art Festival in July is a family event featuring fresh seafood, art, and fun at waterfront Burr’s Hill Park.
- Annual Memorial Day Parade along Main Street is a community event honoring the services and memories of those who have served.
Pertinent Plans and Documents
- Comprehensive Community Plan (2003)
- Harbor Management Plan (2006)
- Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan (2015)
- Strategic Energy Plan (2010)
- Warren, Rhode Island, Statewide Preservation Report (1975)
- A Waterfront Redevelopment Plan for Warren, Rhode Island (2001)
Upcoming/Planned Planning Activities
- An update of the Comprehensive Community Plan and a feasibility study of a Bristol/Warren National Grid electrical easement trail system are both in process.
- The Warren Waterfront Plan implementation is under way with the construction of a public boardwalk on the Tourister Mill property.