SE Mass

Selectman hopes to breathe new life into Swansea Mall

SWANSEA, Mass. (WPRI) -- A Swansea selectman is hoping fellow town leaders will support his plan to revitalize the Swansea Mall, which has sat mostly empty for years.

Selectman Christopher Carreiro said the town should take the mall by eminent domain. 

"'Eminent domain' sounds scary," he said. "In this context, it's really not that scary."

Carreiro hopes the town will be able to breathe new life into the shopping center, which he believes is costing the town tax revenue. 

"It's a blight on the entire community, and if we could resolve this one issue I think a lot of other things would fall into place," he explained.

He plans to make a formal presentation to the Board of Selectmen next Wednesday where he'll make the pitch to hire a consultant, establish a redevelopment authority and create an urban renewal plan.

Carreiro said his idea would relieve the property from a list of restrictions put into place when Walmart bought a piece of the mall's land in 2012.

"The restrictions are contrary to public policy," he said. "They are expansive, they are ambiguous and vague, and they serve no public interest whatsoever."

While Carreiro said he believes the mall's owners, Carlyle Development Group, would be open to his proposal, Carlyle's CEO told Eyewitness News in an email they just learned of the idea on Wednesday and needed more time to talk it over with town officials. 

Carreiro said his plan to seize the property through eminent domain would be "a friendly taking," and the town would serve as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. He hopes the proposal will remove what he sees as a roadblock to developers.

Eyewitness News reached out to Walmart for comment but did not immediately hear back.

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