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The Boston Globe

Travel

With a thriving downtown, Providence sets bar higher

When Ari S. Heckman was growing up in Providence and interested in urban development, he once took photos of neon dancing ladies in the window of a downtown strip club and brothel as part of an art project.

Heckman, who witnessed many changes in his city, including moving rivers that would host popular Water Fire events and reopening a long-dormant Providence Arcade into a thriving retail, dining, and residential location, contributed to the change in January when he opened the Dean Hotel, an upscale boutique lodging carved out of that former brothel.

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