Wal-Mart shoppers killed Ames, a New England regional discount store, and now Wal-Mart is moving into the dead space. Residents in the North End neighborhood of Silver Spring Street in Providence, Rhode Island are concerned about the impacts of a 134,700 s.f. Wal-Mart discount store. The Fall River, Massachusetts developer pushing this project says the Wal-Mart will not be a supercenter. Wal-Mart is only building 50 discount stores this year nationwide, and chances are once the store is built, it will last in that location less than a decade, since Wal-Mart is now phasing out most of its discount stores, and replacing them with supercenters. The empty 102,000 s.f. Ames store would be demolished, according to the Providence Journal. The Ames closed about a year and a half ago. A consortium of Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Kohl’s divided up the Ames location in a bankruptcy court in New York City. Wal-Mart got the Providence site. The developer is also going to knock down several existing businesses at the old Ames mall, including a liquor store, beauty supply store, and a medical supply store. The Wal-Mart will be nearly the size of 3 football fields, and will have a parking lot capable of holding 547 cars. A new traffic light will have to be installed to handle the increased traffic flow. Wal-Mart officials met with the Charles Street Revitalization Committee and apparently convinced local people that their project meant 230 “new” jobs. “Besides the jobs, its going to be filling a void” for residents who have wanted a store in the area, said the head of the Revitalization group, sounding like a Wal-Mart press release. Residents were relieved that the store would not be a supercenter, which would have threatened existing grocery stores, but the “new” Wal-Mart jobs are only “old” Ames jobs wrapped in new aprons. There is no real job gain from the transaction once Ames jobs are subtracted from the total.
Residents upset with this urban Wal-Mart have contacted sprawl-busters, but so far, it seems that all city planners have asked for is a pedestrian traffic button for the intersection, and local neighbors seem to be happy to see their dead mall replaced with another retailer. They may not be so happy when Wal-Mart decides to close the discount store and replace it somewhere else with a supercenter.