Lincoln Mall’s new image

Lincoln Mall is the latest suburban shopping center to remake itself in the wake of last year’s opening of Providence Place, establishing the mall as not only a shopping center but a community center as well, according to its new owner.

Much of the work is done – new stores, new landscaping, a more inviting center – and through October 1 they’ll be celebrating their new look.

In the aftermath of the opening of Providence Place, two malls in Warwick have also undergone considerable change.

At Warwick Mall, Caldor’s, which went bankrupt, is being replaced by Old Navy, and the cinemas, which were freestanding are gone, being replaced by two restaurants. Another multi-screen cinema is also

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expected to be built on the property. At nearby Rhode Island Mall, which has dubbed itself the blue collar mall, Wal-Mart is moving in and a Wendy’s and Chuck E Cheese are freestanding buildings not far from Sears.

Meanwhile, Lincoln Mall is ready to compete on its own.

”I want this space to be inviting,” said Richard Baccari, chief executive officer of Providence real estate development firm Churchill & Banks. ”There is no downtown Lincoln. We are a mall, but we’re different. I want us to be more of a community center for the Blackstone Valley.”

Bacarri said he hopes the mall, purchased for $24.5 million in June, 1999 by LMA, LLC, an affiliate of Churchill & Banks, will play host to local events and activities.

But it was clear to Bacarri from the beginning that if that was to happen, first his company’s new acquisition would need a major overhaul.

“Lincoln Mall was 26 years old, and whoever designed and built it wasn’t really thinking of aesthetics,” he said. “It wasn’t really consumer-friendly.”

Today, the mall’s main entrance is landscaped with islands that are turfed and flowered, and will change with the seasons, Bacarri said. The building’s main facade features a 40-foot timbered entranceway.

NEW PROVIDENCE PLACE MALL, shown above, has stirred existing suburban malls into competitive action.
“We’ve really paid attention to the detail here,” he said. “We even hired a colorist to make sure that the colors we used were complementary to the existing colors.”

Convenience was another high priority in the renovation of the 65-acre mall.

“You can pull up to any of the three entrances here and quickly get to any store you want to, and then get back in your car and leave if you want to,” Bacarri said.

Plans for a shuttle service, linking the mall to the area’s major businesses – which include Fleet Bank, Fidelity Investments, Amica Insurance and Bryant College – are being developed. The aim of such a program would be to provide employees with easy access to the mall during lunch hours.

“We’re not finalized with the shuttle program, but we should have it finalized in the next 30 to 45 days,” Bacarri said.

Along with the mall’s new face come some new tenants – including Super Stop & Shop, HomeGoods and Pay/half – and there are more to come.

“We are currently in negotiation with 80,000 square feet of national and regional tenants,” said Bacarri.

Bacarri projects that contracts for 75 percent of that space will be in place by year’s end.

Bacarri called the Lincoln/Smithfield/Cumberland area a “solid, growing area. Ninety thousand people live within a five mile area.”

“There are 260,000 people within seven miles of the mall,” Bacarri said. “We’ve got to get them interested in Lincoln Mall and let them know there are products and services available for them there. It feeds itself after that.”

The mall’s reopening celebration will run for 10 days, ending on Sunday, October 1.