Up To You: Wal-Mart

If it were up to you, what would you like to see happen to the property that once held Wal-Mart?


Before a move to Dowling Village in North Smithfield just a few short months ago, Wal-Mart operated from a property at 1919 Diamond Hill Rd., built 27 years ago.

Woonsocket has more than its fair share of vacant buildings and empty properties. Some have been empty for years while others see a rotating crop of businesses.

But, if it were up to you, what would you like to see happen to these spaces? Each week, we feature one empty building, lot or area in Woonsocket and ask our readers what they'd like to see there.

Another box store ? A mini strip mall? A new park? What do you want? And, if you could get YOUR wish, how often do you think you would visit the location?

This week: the property that once held Wal-Mart. Although Wal-Mart officials have indicated they could reopen the store, the building currently sits vacant creating another empty space on Diamond Hill Road. If it was up to you, would you like to see the store reopen? If not, what other business would you like to see in its place?

Fina December 30, 2011 at 04:35 PM
Kohl's is slated to be placed in Dowling Village. I tend to agree that more middle of the road establishments could do ok up there. Applebee's has been in that lot of years and hasn't left so there's evidently a market for the better quality sit-down chains. The property is huge though.
Erin B. December 30, 2011 at 04:41 PM
It's a detailed plan, sure, and I'd love to see it. However, if the demographics don't support it, it will be a losing business venture. I do think, however, that the solution must be a new group of establishments and not just one. That would generate some decent pull outside of the immediate area and get people to come check it out. That won't happen with just one store unless it's an IKEA (which is another idea, given the size) or other destination location.
Rick December 30, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Hey,how about a Sonic a White Castle and of course a drive-in theater..
Garrett Mancieri December 30, 2011 at 07:32 PM
I have submitted the property to IKEA and movie cinema chains. I agree with many of the comments that the best idea would be to do a shopping mall/complex. We have many businesses for low income residents and need to start attracting businesses for moderate income families. There are many retail companies that are doing well despite the bad economy. I like the ideas of Macy's, Target, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Dick's Sporting Goods, Costco, Dave's Supermarket, or if Lowe's leaves; Home Depot.
robert rondeau December 30, 2011 at 07:40 PM
OK here goes....L shaped type mall with three anchor restaurants. On one end ,Longhorns,,at the other Olive Gardens and, in the middle "Red Lobster" ,the clossest is in Connecticut. In between would be a Bob's mens store, an Ikea,Toys are us andOld Navy/Gap. That should fill up that area with plenty of space to park.
Kerry O'Neil December 30, 2011 at 08:17 PM
The demographic is all wrong Garrett. If Wal-Mart cant "make it" in Woonsocket, you think anything else will? Get real everyone
Norman R Pelland December 30, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Sonic. Now you're talking! Great idea Rick.
Steve December 30, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Kerry, your post is the only sensible post on this thread! Once the WED gets done with their budgets for 2011 and then for 2012, the supplemental tax bills come out and future tax rates go up to the maximum allowed. The property owners, the business owners and everyone else who owns property or runs a business in Woonsocket gets bled to the absolute bone. Is it any wonder why residents and businesses are fleeing from this god forsaken city at record rates! The Wal-Mart site will be abandoned as will the Lowe's site in the near future. Woonsocket residents, get use to it. This is what the cost of doing business with the WED has brought to this city! Watch out for the TUMBLEWEEDS!
Garrett Mancieri December 30, 2011 at 10:04 PM
The Walmart site was doing well. They did not leave because they were not making a profit, they left to North Smithfield to make more profit. Many people on this site, many people in the City, and many people outside the City would shop here if we had stores that they shop in. We have the ability to have these stores here without the traffic congestion they have on Route 1 in Attleboro.
Still Hope December 30, 2011 at 10:04 PM
Thank god many of you are not developers. Some fun ideas, but you are being ignorant to the climate that surrounds a place like The Woon. It is not merely demographics, foot traffic, and spreadsheets that are the issue, it's more the attitude of the community. Take a look at what is already there and how it compares to others you've been to. Diamond Hill has by far the worst examples of each successful franchise. Wendys, Dunkin Donuts, Planet Fitness, Shaws, to name a few, are just poorly run and left to rot in Woonsocket. Likewise, you can find the same businesses within 10 miles and get better service and not feel grossed out as you leave. (my younger brother actually got banned from Planet Fitness when he complained about the cleaniness...he now drives to Cumberland). Low standards is a perpetual spiral to nowhere. In order to attract higher end business, we need to instill a community willing to appreciate such things. I wouldn't open my business in Woonsocket just to be sandwiched between a run down liquor store and landromat while getting shoplifted every Thursday. You think the Mayor leaving the Vermettes building as a pile of rubble for over 4 months, in the most eye-catching part of the city, garnered any respect from the business community or from the population from surrounding towns? Just an example of how it starts from the top down. ps. whoever said Applebees is a better quality chain, i hope that was sarcasm :)
Steve December 30, 2011 at 10:59 PM
Garrett, please tell me what the incentive would be to open a new store site in Woonsocket. You seem to be Real Estate savvy, as was evident in your credentials listed when you ran for city council. I would like to hear what advantages any store would have by locating a store in Woonsocket. Please make sure you include the local costs associated with doing business in Woonsocket OK? This should be interesting......
Wayne Boucher December 31, 2011 at 03:25 AM
If wally world still owns the site then all we can hope for is a sams club . but I dont see the demand.
Novan for Life December 31, 2011 at 03:36 AM
Kohls is going to dowling village along with lowes and staples,olive gardens as well
Novan for Life December 31, 2011 at 03:43 AM
well none of those ideas are going to happen, not now or in the future, Lowe's will be going as well by the end of 2012
Uncle Ben December 31, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Casino, Casino, Casino, did I say Casino ? lol Casino
Uncle Ben December 31, 2011 at 12:34 PM
you missed a weiner shop
liz December 31, 2011 at 01:00 PM
WoW!! Talk about dome and glum for Woonsocket's future. I know things are tough, I live here, but stores can make a go here, the bottom line has to be more than the top line and Wal-Mart did good here, the only reason they left, is Woonsocket wouldn't let them expand to include the grocery portion of the store. Which if you have been, isn't much to brag on, Price Rite and Shaw's would have been real competition, while Stop & Shop has such high prices this is a great relief to North Smithfield residence.
dubes December 31, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Not a day goes by that I don't regret moving to this city to take the job I was offered ... Signed Young single college educated taxpaer
greg December 31, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Hi dubes It will only get worse. When quality companies like Hanna Instruments quietly leaves for Lincoln R.I it is a vote of no confidence with elected officials. Coffee an donuts work in elections but don't work in the private sector.. Good luck in your search.
Garrett Mancieri December 31, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Stores are not located based upon the financial condition of that city or town, they are based on location to highways, traffic, and profitability. If we can make Diamond Hill an attractive shopping center that people want to come to, it will be successful. Why do people go to the middle of the desert? Because the entertainment capital of the world is there, Las Vegas, which happens to have alot of poverty and many foreclosures but people still visit in record numbers. The same goes for Patriot Place and the Wrenthem Outlets, they are destinations where people spend a day shopping. We need to be talking to businesses about bringing people to Woonsocket as opposed to building stores for the people of Woonsocket. Diamond Hill is on the border of Bellingham, Blackstone, Wrenthem, Franklin, Plainville, and Cumberland and we need those people spending their money in our City. They will come shopping and dining in Woonsocket if there are businesses here that appeals to them. Did you ever hear of anyone saying they would not go to the Stadium Threatre because it was in Woon? No. I agree that our tax structure is high and most likely will be going higher soon with new lower revaluations that will be out soon. The tax rate needs to come down but it hurts our small businesses much more than a company like Walmart that makes billions. The City needs to establish an economic development board to look at ways to attract businesses to the city through new ideas/programs.
greg December 31, 2011 at 09:29 PM
RBeau. Check the Hanna website referencing new location. Thanks
nunya December 31, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Greg, They are keeping Woonsocket the headquarters and Lincoln is the expanded warehouse with several departments. They are not leaving Woonsocket and have no intentions to. A member of my immediate family works there.
TaxpayerToo December 31, 2011 at 11:49 PM
Wow....so many ideas by so many people. However, I don't hear nor see much from our Economic Development Director. Oh, sorry, he sent A letter to Lowe's and they didn't respond. He did his job.
greg January 01, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Nunya Too bad they didn't expand in Woonsocket. Thanks for the info.
Vinnie Ward January 01, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Unfortunately, Woonsocket is still the laughingstock of the State of RI, which certainly has nothing to be proud of when you look at ITS financial position. When I tell people I'm from Woonsocket, they still make cracks. I would bet that the Economic Development people in the State never even mention Woonsocket as a place to move/open their businesses. If the State doesn't help, it certainly makes it difficult to do it on our own. Dowling Village has hurt Woonsocket's chances of luring businesses for middle income shoppers here. While Woonsocket is surrounded by many towns, many of them thrive because they have the land to expand. Patriot Place is about the size of ALL of East Woonsocket. We just don't have the land to create the multi-business mall/shopping plaza that many would like to see. I think you will find that the only businesses that will expand into Woonsocket will be the lower income type businesses, What I see WalMart transformed into would be a large indoor flea market, like I used to see in Florida. Not too inspiring, I know, but probably the most logical.
RonW January 01, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Something like The Big Flea, at the old Ann & Hope building in Cumberland.
taxed to the max January 02, 2012 at 12:10 PM
dimond hill road needs highway acess to route 99 and 495 if this was done it would make a big diffrence in the type of store it would attract.
NicotinePatch January 02, 2012 at 02:24 PM
How about a store called Wel-Mart? A store, funded by us taxpayers, where welfare recipients of the city can get even more things for free. We're already paying for their 50 inch rental TV's, cell phones, appliances...etc. Let's make it easy for them to get it all for free at one convenient location.
michael January 18, 2012 at 06:58 PM
You know what they can do w/ that property? They can bring back roller kingdom and give us something to do in this God forsaken city.
Kris Vanmoerkerque January 02, 2014 at 06:17 PM
How about a skating rink, since the one nearby was bought and closed to facilitate the never ending walmart sprawl. Funny how that was abandoned as well. Hardwood floor it and throw some cones out.


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