PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Work is officially underway to convert a vacant lot into an enhanced entrance to Roger Williams Park.

The Roger Williams Park Gateway is being constructed on the blighted property that formerly housed the El Fogon restaurant, which closed after a fire in 2006.

“It’s been this way so long that it’s frankly become a landmark,” Mayor Jorge Elorza said of the empty lot. “People say, ‘you know where the burned out El Fogon is? Turn right…’ and that’s just something we can’t accept any longer.”

Design photo courtesy of INFORM

Elorza said the gateway will transform the Broad Street lot into a colorful landmark that pays homage to the city’s diverse community.

“We’re a diverse city, we’re a welcoming city and we want our city to shine in every way,” Elorza said.

The project, which will cost the city $6.6 million, is primarily being paid for with funding the city received as part of the American Rescue Plan. The construction of the gateway will include a visitors’ center, restrooms, a recreational plaza and green space.

The gateway is part of the ongoing revitalization of the Broad Street corridor, which Elorza said is one of the city’s busiest roadways.

“Transforming a blighted lot into a welcoming destination spot for all to enjoy is a great example of partners coming together to create positive change with lasting impact for years to come,” Executive Director of the Providence Redevelopment Agency Bonnie Nickerson said.

The project has garnered community and neighborhood support from organizations across the city.

Elorza hopes to host the ribbon-cutting ceremony on the project in approximately 10 months.