Outlet stores won’t be coming to Warwick.
On Thursday, Adam Winstanley of Winstanley Enterprise LLC confirmed reports the proposal to convert Rhode Island Mall into an outlet mall has been abandoned and that the company has a contract to sell the property, which as Midland Mall was the state’s first suburban mall. Winstanley of Concord, Mass. and Surrey Equities of New York City own the mall. He said a closing with MCB Real Estate of Baltimore, Md. is set for May 28.
But the mall isn’t likely to sit idle for much longer.
David Frederick of MCB said the property is under contract and that, while there is interest in the mall, it’s premature to talk about potential tenants. Nonetheless, there are signs of activity.
Last week, Mayor Scott Avedisian said he is aware renovations are being considered, but until plans are filed he doesn’t know what companies would be looking to locate here.
“The city is very excited by the redevelopment of the Rhode Island Mall,” he said in a statement. “This redevelopment allows the city to continue to offer the latest and best commercial and retail opportunities for consumers. I look forward to welcoming these new stores.”
While the outlet proposal didn’t work for his company, Winstanley gave an optimistic projection for MCB.
“We are selling to a company that has a better ability to bring in an anchor. They are a preferred developer. They have a stronger and better relationship,” he said.
Winstanley sees Rhode Island Mall as “coming back as a big box mall,” meaning in place of smaller stores congregated around a couple of anchor stores, there would be five or six larger stores. He put those stores at between 40,000 and 60,000 square feet each.
When proposed about a year ago, the indoor outlet mall was excitedly received at a retailers’ convention in Las Vegas. Last June, Ed Silvera, president of Surrey, envisioned an entirely different look for the mall with 40 to 60 stores. He said at that time there were some tentative agreements, and the plan was for an aggressive build-out in order for the outlet mall to open for the Christmas season this year.
But according to Winstanley, the proximity of the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets – although they “feel like a world away” – and the inability to get a big name anchor such as Ralph Lauren, a Tory Burch or Nike didn’t make the plan viable. He said Warwick is just at the 30-mile radius outlet stores prefer as separation, and possible anchors for Rhode Island Mall didn’t want to alienate the relationship they have with operators in Wrentham.
Winstanley said Rhode Island Mall is “too good of a site” not to be redeveloped, adding that the MCB plan “is going to be a great project.”
Although unsuccessful with an outlet mall, Winstanley’s involvement may have done more to open the property for redevelopment than most people realize. Once a thriving retail hub, the mall withered over a period of years, loosing more and more stores until finally it closed completely. Sears, which served as an anchor to the mall, owns its own building, and Walmart and Kohl’s, which hold down the east end, never had interior connections to the mall.
Stop & Shop had restrictive agreements on the property.
“We worked with Stop & Shop and freed up development,” Winstanley said.
According to its website, Rhode Island Mall is just the kind of property for which MCB is looking.
“MCB excels at identifying mispriced, undervalued and underperforming assets. The principals have a significant network of relationships with lenders, special servers, leasing/investment-sales brokers, tenants/retailers and insurance companies. These relationships, coupled with MCB’s reputation for underwriting and execution, allow the company to take advantage of numerous off-market opportunities, as well as missed or misplaced opportunities that have been widely marketed,” reads the website.
MBC owns properties in Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey and South Carolina.