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NEW: Garden City To Get Major Makeover

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


A first glimpse at Garden City's new look, starting later this year.

Talk about a makeover. Garden City Center today detailed a multi-phased strategy to expand, reconfigure and redevelop the historic shopping center. Construction of a new 20,000 square foot building begins an extension of the iconic Village that will eventually turn former large format retail space into a mix of mid-size and smaller specialty stores. Later phases include construction of several new restaurant spaces and improved traffic and pedestrian links to the Whole Foods Market section of the center.

The changing landscape of retail

“Retailing in the United States has changed, and Garden City Center needs to provide retailers and consumers with the atmosphere, amenities and experience they want in a 21st Century shopping center,” said Thomas V. Wilder, a principal of The Wilder Companies, management company of Garden City Center. “These plans reflect the desires of shoppers who are looking for more retail options, while meeting the space demands of today’s most desirable retailers. For many years, we’ve had a waiting list of retailers that wanted to open stores at Garden City Center, but we simply didn’t have the appropriate space to accommodate them. Now we can, while continuing to offer our unique mix of local, regional and national retailers.”

Multi-million dollar village

The multi-million dollar project will employ a sophisticated contemporary design leveraging Garden City Center’s New England village concept and utilizing the traditional New England elements and materials already found throughout the center, Mr. Wilder explained.  “The changes in the air are exciting, and shoppers will soon see new and renovated stores that pay tribute to our legacy while embracing the future,” said Mr. Wilder.

“Garden City Center is a major engine for Cranston’s economy and the city is committed to helping The Wilder Companies bring its vision for Garden City Center to reality,” said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. “Expanding the Village concept, adding new and exciting stores, and linking the Whole Foods section to the rest of the center will create a truly unique one-stop shopping experience at Garden City Center.”

Phase I: more village

Phase I extends Garden City’s “Village” to the south with the addition of the new 20,000 square foot building immediately adjacent to Papa Razzi. The new space will be home to two premier national retailers. At the same time, the iconic Garden City gazebo will be transformed from the end-cap of the Village into the new focal point for the center. Construction is anticipated to break ground in late Spring with delivery of the space to retailers in late 2012.

Phase II: conversion and expansion

Phase II will see the conversion of previously occupied large format stores, located in the area that is now called the Commons, into smaller 3,000 to 10,000 square foot stores and restaurants. It is anticipated the Phase II construction will be complete by early 2013. Further phases will include the addition of new restaurants and redesigned connections to the Whole Foods Market section of the center.

“The extension of the Village will create a strong vehicular and pedestrian connection across the entire center,” said Andrew T. LaGrega, another principal of The Wilder Companies. “We are excited about our plans to redesign and enhance the landscaping around our popular gazebo, and we look forward to its use as the focal point for public gatherings and events.”

New retailers

Building upon the 2011 openings of Anthropologie, Destination Maternity, Pinkberry and Ten Thousand Villages, and the soon-to-open Soma-Intimates and Edible Arrangements, Mr. LaGrega also announced additional new stores and store updates.  Women’s specialty retailer Ann Taylor will open its second store in Rhode Island in July 2012. Gourmet cookware and home furnishing retailer Williams-Sonoma has committed to expanding its presence at Garden City Center and will build a brand new store in the space currently housed by Eddie Bauer.  The existing Williams-Sonoma will accommodate a new, specialty sportswear retailer. Additionally, several other Garden City center mainstays have entered into new, multi-year leases and will be performing major interior and exterior store renovations, including: Mel & Me, Starbucks, Providence Diamond Company, Hallmark and Yankee Candle.

“Garden City Center’s success over the last seven decades has been due in large part to our unique mix of stores owned and operated by local residents as well as regional and national companies,” Mr. LaGrega said. “We are excited and optimistic that the impressive mix of retailers, restaurants, events and amenities offered at Garden City Center will continue to make the shopping center Rhode Island’s premier outdoor shopping destination for years to come.”

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