Now that the owners have made it official, the
Midland Rhode Island Mall will now, officially, be a dead mall, now what?
Speculation has long been that the holders of the master lease, Royal Ahold, parent company of Stop & Shop, was sitting on the property to keep the Walmart at the mall from expanding into a Supercenter, which would compete with area Stop & Shops. I imagine if Walmart wanted a Supercenter in the area, they’d find a way to open one. It’s not like Walmart has never closed a store before to open a bigger one.
Of course last year, after the floods, we discussed the malls. While the Rhode Island Mall did not suffer the flooding that the Warwick Mall did, unbuilding the Rhode Island Mall and allowing open ground to soak up water before it enters the river would be good for the entire watershed. Published reports claim that the mall’s anchor stores, Kohls, Walmart, and Sears will remain open. While those stores remain the closed portion of the mall could be demolished with parking replacing it, and removing parking from areas along the river. The current parking at the mall is for a much larger customer base than the anchors draw.
I imagine, what is likely to happen, is the property will be sat on until the economy turns, then it will be transformed into a Lifestyle Center a la Garden City or Chapel View.
The mall could be unbuilt and replaced with housing. Warwick lost 3,000 people in the last 10 years according to the census and Mayor Avedisian is concerned that Airport expansion is a big part of the blame:
William DePasquale, director of Warwick’s Division of Planning, said 300 homes were bought out by the airport corporation over the past decade. That could account for 1,000 people or more, he said.
And more buyouts are expected as the airport plans a major runway expansion.
“I’m concerned because as we go forward, they’ll be taking more and more homes,” said Avedisian. “I would expect to see another drop in 10 years.”
Well, if you are losing housing, you need to build more to replace it if you don’t want to see your population fall. The Rhode Island Mall land, transformed into a Lifestyle Center or other smarter growth configuration, could support housing, and combined with CCRI across the street, a transit link could be established across town to connect with the Train Station at T.F. Green.
Of course what is likely and what actually could happen, in the fantasy world of internet discussions, are two entirely different things. What do you think should become of the old Midlands?
For an explanation on the title of this post, see this comment.