Newport’s North End is within a few miles of downtown, but residents often say the area feels isolated. The Pell Bridge ramps and a connecting road cut across Newport, restricting pedestrian connectivity and community cohesion between the North End and the rest of the city.

The North End Urban Plan aims to help change that. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation began a project this year to realign the bridge ramps, which will free up several parcels of land in the North End for development.

As the Newport Planning Board reviewed the proposed plan this fall, however, some locals said the document does not do enough to protect the North End’s current residents — many of whom are low-income or people of color. They fear that rising property values could make the area unaffordable.

The Planning Board approved several amendments addressing this threat of displacement before voting unanimously Monday night. These additions call on the city to prioritize impacted neighborhoods and pursue solutions to combat displacement, such as taxation measures or development incentives.

“The whole idea of [the amendments] is to call out what the plan does right, but then also show that the city has work to do with prioritizing its neighborhoods, specifically in the North End. And to put it on the city to be creative in its policies and solutions moving forward,” said Planning Board Member Paul Marshall.

Chair Kim Salerno said the Planning Board’s approval of the North End Urban Plan was an important milestone for the City of Newport, which first hired a team of consultants to devise the document in 2019.

“We’ve been talking about North End development for a long time, and it’s important to move forward with parameters that reflect our need for economic development and the desires of the residents of this city,” Salerno said.

With the Planning Board’s approval, the North End Urban Plan will next head to the Newport City Council for at least one public hearing.


Antonia Ayres-Brown is the Newport Reporter for The Public’s Radio. She can be reached at antonia@thepublicsradio.org