January is always time for a new beginning but, this year, Providence is definitely off to a brand new start. There are some really hot new projects and some really cool new people that will be changing our city's landscape for years to come.

I got a behind-the-scenes tour of The Dean, Providence's newest hotel. The Dean is a dramatically different concept for the city. Rooms are modestly priced but are anything but cheap. The décor has been carefully thought out, with fixtures from Providence's own Steel Yard. My two favorite rooms are the smallest - "The Kin," which features two bunk beds - and the largest - "The Heights," four connected guest rooms that take up an entire floor.

The Dean is both a hotel and a dining and entertainment mecca. A lobby coffee bar serves local Bolt Coffee and the Boombox Karaoke Lounge will soon open with private booths, so you only embarrass yourself singing in front of people you know. Mike Sears, Providence's low key yet high profile bar genius, is behind Faust, the hotel's German beer hall and the Magdalenae Room, which The Dean promises will be "intimate yet discreet." That sure sounds interesting.

The other big, new project shaping the changing face of the city is the ProvidenceG. The former Providence Gas Building has been lovingly restored to stunning effect. A gleaming white lobby and noiseless elevators whisk tenants to bright and spacious apartments. The city has been buzzing for months about the G's rooftop bar, which is scheduled to open late this spring and is a first for Providence. Two other restaurants - a gastropub and a high-end seafood concept - will also be opening shortly. There is also bright and airy special function space perfect for a wedding or a corporate landscape.

New people are also changing the city in exciting ways. Two transplanted Georgians, Providence Preservation Society Executive Director Brent Runyon and Providence Public Library Executive Director Jack Martin, have just arrived, bringing a fresh energy and perspective to two much-loved and venerated organizations. Meanwhile, Dr. Jeremy Goodman is encouraging a wide swath of the local population to rediscover the Roger Williams Park Zoo that they loved as a child.

While Providence is known as a city rich in history, all of this "newness" has been embraced by the community. It is, indeed, a happy new year.