SWANSEA, Mass. (WPRI) — After failing to fill the spaces left behind by fleeing tenants, the owners of the Swansea Mall will soon shut the place down.
Elaine Wilcox, a spokesperson for the mall, confirmed to Eyewitness News on Thursday that the mall is closing on March 31.
The mall once boasted 88 tenants but is now down to around 30, according to Wilcox. She said it was becoming difficult for the existing tenants to remain in a mall that is so empty, especially with the announcement earlier this month that Macy’s would be closing its anchor store there.
Shoppers outside the mall Thursday were disappointed by the news but perhaps not altogether surprised, given the number of vacant storefronts.
“Most of them are all empty,” Steve Rocha of Somerset said. “Just the people that are walking, very few in the stores.”
“It’s a ghost town,” Zack Tripp of Fall River said. “It’s very upsetting. The community’s going to take a big hit on that.”
“I’m going to miss it,” Rocha added.
The owners of SALT Fitness Co., husbands Andre Gadbois and Shaun Pacheco, said they received word via email on Thursday afternoon about the closing.
“We knew that this day would probably someday come,” Pacheco said. “We definitely thought that we’d have much longer time to prepare for it.”
Pachecho said the Macy’s announcement in particular made them wonder if the mall would soon close. They are now searching for another location in Swansea. Of course, so are the other couple dozen businesses in the mall.
“Trying to kind of band together a little bit to help each other out, with such short notice to have to up and move,” Gadbois said. He said members of the community had already starting calling with leads on new spaces.
Town Selectman Chris Carreiro in part blames Walmart for the mall’s demise, since the retailer’s deed agreement with the mall includes restrictions on what other types of stores can move in, such as grocery stores.
“[Walmart has] veto power on nearly everything,” Carreiro said. “In other words, they own the Swansea Mall without actually owning the Swansea Mall.”
Carreiro said he hopes the town can help a new buyer renegotiate with Walmart and redevelop the mall into something better in the future.
“This is an opportune time to buy the Swansea Mall,” Carreiro said.
Abdi Mahamedi, the CEO of Carlyle Development Group, declined to comment when reached by phone Thursday afternoon.