By Sam Wroblewski 630wpro.com
Providence Place Mall’s announcement that JC Penney would be departing the three levels it currently occupies inside the downtown destination spot took many by surprise, with some on social networks seeing it as a sign of the shopping center’s decline.
However representatives of the Mall took a more positive approach to the situation, saying in a statement, “From a leasing perspective, we look at this as a huge opportunity. We’ll be talking more about that in the future.”
With the above statement in mind, WPRO asked its listeners on Facebook and Twitter what they would like to see fill the space JC Penney will leave behind. Here are some of the examples.
The following is purely speculative and should not be taken as fact.
Separate, Smaller Outlets:
The main challenge for leasing the leftover space in the mall is that of size. JC Penney occupies three levels all connected via escalators. While all of the listener suggestions would make an excellent addition to the mall, many would not fill the necessary three floors… Unless Providence Place leases the levels separately.
The idea would be feasible; the main concern would be installing anti-theft devices between floors so shoppers couldn’t exit with merchandise from one retailer to the other. Here are some of the smaller scale recommendations from listeners.
Bloomingdales – This high-end retailer would complement/compete with the offerings of Nordstrom and other classy outlets as well as potentially bringing more designer brands into the Capital City.
Nieman Marcus – Another high-end designer apparel store would be a good fit as its product would not be carried in other store fronts throughout the mall.
Ross Dress for Less – As the name implies, this store front offers clothing at a reasonable price which would make a nice alternative if the two-above stores moved in. If Ross were to open at the mall it would be the first to open outside of the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area.
Go Big, Or Go Home:
As the cliché implies, the following suggestions would be retailers who could take up all three vacated levels. As before, here are the listener suggestions.
Target – By far the most popular store on the list is Target. Many of the listeners who suggested the retail chain prefaced their pick by saying “Providence needs one!” It seems every other mall in Rhode Island has one, and a Target would take advantage of all the real estate left behind.
Best Buy – The mall is light on technology and electronic stores and a Best Buy would certainly fit that bill. However, with the decline of the franchise and the closing of many locations it would seem this would be an unlikely option.
Khol’s – An option more in line with JC Penney, this store front would probably be the most “move-in ready” of any of the other options.
Bass Pro Shop – Three floors of outdoor apparel and gear for hunting and fishing.
L.L. Bean – Three floors of classy outdoor apparel and gear for hunting and fishing.
Toys “R” Us – You could fit all three faces of Toys “R” Us under one roof! One floor babies, one floor toddlers, and one floor six and up.
Ikea – Perhaps the most intriguing option listeners suggested; and perhaps a very profitable one. Having an Ikea downtown would capitalize on the untapped college furniture market. No longer would Brown, RISD, JWU, PC, and RIC students have to order online or trek out to Stoughton to pick or their perfect non-descript assemble-it-yourself furniture. Plus, considering the city’s trend to develop everything into apartment spaces, there may be more customers in the future.
These were just some of the ideas WPRO listeners had. If you can think of any other let us know in the comments.