No outlets in store for old Rhode Island Mall

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — What was going to be the next chapter for the Rhode Island Mall — outlet stores — is now off the table, and the property is set to change hands once more.

The owners say they’re abandoning the outlet plan, and are selling up to a Baltimore, Md. firm at the end of the month.

Winstanley Enterprise LLC of Concord, Mass., and Surrey Equities of New York City own the 450,000-square foot mall, which closed its smaller stores and interior concourse in April 2011. Anchor stores Sears, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart have remained on their own.

The mall sold for $38 million in November 2012. The plan then was to build bigger spaces in the mall’s interior for more anchor stores.

Two years later, in August 2014, the outlet center plan materialized, with Adam Winstanley telling Eyewitness News they were hoping to appeal to a broad spectrum of income levels, and attract a wide range of retailers. But challenges included proximity to the factory outlet mall in Wrentham, Mass., as well as a lot of renovation costs — a new roof, ripping out all tile and flooring, and installing new energy-efficient utilities.

At the time, Winstanley said construction wouldn’t start until 110,000 square feet was leased. The hope was to have that done by March of this year.

The developers now set to take over, MCB Real Estate, told the Warwick Beacon the property is under contract, and said there’s interest in the mall, but that it’s too early to speculate on who might be moving in.

MCB hopes to close on the sale May 28.

The new direction for the Rhode Island Mall can only be good for the city, Mayor Scott Avedisian figures. He said he looks forward to welcoming new stores — and commercial opportunities — to the property.

“We’re waiting to see the final design they’re going to submit, so we can fast-track the zoning, and get them on schedule for good development and re-development before the end of the year,” Mayor Avedisian said Wednesday morning. “We want to help them and fast-track it as best we can.”

Winstanley told the Beacon that MCB has stronger clout in the marketplace to bring in an anchor.

The new plan remains similar: a few big stores in the space — possibly “big-box” brands — rather than its traditional-mall past as home to strings of specialty stores.

When it opened in 1967, the Midland Mall, as it was known then, was the first two-level enclosed shopping mall in New England.A “hat tip” to Jef Nickerson of the blog Greater City Providence, who brought up the 2012 plan.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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