PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Mayor Jorge Elorza is encouraging shoppers to frequent the Providence Place mall this holiday shopping season, saying high-profile incidents like last year’s garage shooting are the exception rather than the rule.
Elorza’s comments came during an interview for Target 12’s report on the challenges facing Providence Place as it marks its 20th anniversary. While the mall’s occupancy remains strong — with 97% of space leased as of Sept. 30 — it has lost multiple upscale stores and seen a drop in sales tax receipts.
The mall has also gotten negative publicity from incidents like the January 2018 shooting in its parking garage, which forced shoppers to evacuate the 1.1-million-square-foot shopping center.
Elorza said Providence police coordinate closely with mall security to ensure public safety. “Anytime, especially today, that there’s a large gathering you worry about what could potentially happen,” he said.
“It’s a really small number of public safety events that occur,” Elorza said. “But we want to be very careful because when those things happen, it’s on all the news, it’s on all of social media now, and it really scares people off. Even if it’s not the reality, the perception is that people shouldn’t come to the mall, and certainly we don’t want that to be the impression.”
The mayor argues Providence Place is as safe as any urban mall in the country.
“You can come to the mall and know that the police department is coordinating with the security there,” he said. “We have a constant presence. And it’s a safe place to be.”
Providence Place executives declined Target 12’s request for an interview, but issued a statement expressing confidence about its next 20 years.
“While change is a constant and happens at a rapid place in the shopping center industry, Providence Place continues to maintain longevity by remaining current with the ever-changing demographic,” a spokesperson said.
Watch Target 12’s full investigation on the mall below.
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook