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R.I.'s Big Empties Leave Economic, Environmental Void


www.ecori.org/smart-growth/2016/9/5/ris-big-empties-leave-economic-environmental-void
 

September 07, 2016
 

This Lowe’s store opened in January 2009 on Davisville Road in North Kingstown. It was out of business two years later, costing some 100 people their jobs and leaving behind an enormous impervious footprint that exacerbates pollution problems. (Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

National retailers are welcomed with great fanfare, but those who trumpeted their arrival go into hiding when these "super" stores are abandoned and their fields of concrete left to inundate local waters with polluted stormwater runoff.
 

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The 117,000-square-foot behemoth opened in early 2009 with plenty of hullabaloo. The developer touted the home-improvement superstore as “the latest example of the success we are seeing at the Gateway.”

Built on 72.5 acres, Quonset Gateway, both its developer and owner have proclaimed, serves as “the front door to R.I.’s largest business park, known as Quonset Business Park.”

Two years after all the Lowe’s buzz, the much-hyped Gateway anchor store closed, leaving behind an empty monstrosity and a forest of pavement. It’s been sitting vacant for nearly three times as long as it was open.

The Quonset Gateway Lowe’s, on Davisville Road, opened in mid-January 2009 and was out of business by late 2011. About 100 people lost their jobs.

Adjectives, superlatives and bravado punctuated the developer’s press release announcing the store’s opening: “celebrates another giant stride toward attracting top-notch retailers;” “dynamic regional hub of activity;” “catalyst for further growth;” “convenience and charm of the retail area;” “reflects New England style architecture;” “customers have numerous options for restoring, maintaining and decorating their homes.”

The press release also noted that the Quonset Gateway is being funded by New Boston’s Urban Strategy America Fund, an investment fund that “executes on the promise of a triple bottom line, generating solid returns to investors, spurring economic development, and promoting environmental sustainability.”

“The Quonset Gateway is a model example for the USA Fund in terms of embracing our triple bottom line philosophy, and we are thrilled that the project is moving forward as rapidly as it is,” John Dragat, chief investment officer of the Urban Strategy America Fund, is quoted. “This development actively promotes environmental, lifestyle and economic sustainability at a time when job creation and community benefits are more important than ever.”

Quonset Gateway features a department store, a supermarket, a nail salon, a beauty-supply store, a pet store, a sandwich shop and a tiny patch of green space. A bank sits amid an ocean of parking spots, and a fast-food joint is across the street. Basically, this strip mall, which opened in 2008, is the type of development that spread across the nation during the 20th century.

When the Gateway Lowe’s closed — one of about 20 in 2011 that were shuttered nationwide — bad management was essentially blamed. “The stores that are closing have not made significant progress necessary to achieve profitability,” a Lowe’s Companies Inc. spokesman said at the time.

Despite the closing of Lowe’s, the Quonset Development Corporation remained optimistic at the time about the future of the location specifically and the business park in general.

A corporation spokesman noted then that another Quonset business had recently nabbed a $430 million contract with the Navy. He said the Lowe’s closing was a sign of the times.

In the span of two short years, the Davisville Road Lowe’s went from an example of success to a casualty of changing times. It created a few hundred short-lived jobs, but the shortsighted project did nothing for Rhode Island’s environment, lifestyle and economic sustainability, except diminish it.

“Sometimes you take three steps forward and one step back,” the spokesman told the North Kingstown Patch in October 2011. “With this economy, you expect that ebb and flow.”

Lowe’s and the Quonset Development Corporation will now look for a company to take over the leased property, according to the 2011 Patch story. “It’s a desirable building in a desirable location,” the spokesman told the website.

It’s been vacant for almost five years.

 


The vast parking lot of another vacant Lowe’s, this one in Woonsocket, is kept clean with a leaf blower. (Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)


Earlier this year, ecoRI News contacted both the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) and Lowe’s corporate headquarters to discuss the future of the boarded-up Gateway building and its impervious-surface-covered site.

A spokeswoman for Lowe’s sent ecoRI News an e-mail on June 8. “Thanks for calling about the former Lowe’s store in North Kingstown. Lowe’s doesn’t own this property; it was leased during the time we operated a store. You would need to speak with the property owner to learn about any future plans.”

A June 16 e-mail from the Quonset Development Corporation’s hired public-relations firm read: “There’s nothing new to add to the discussion about the store right now. Both the QDC and developer of the site, New Boston, are actively pursuing new uses for the building and are hopeful a new tenant will be identified in the months ahead. Meanwhile, the developer and Lowe’s continue to make their lease payments on the parcel at roughly $280,000/year. At the same time, Lowe’s pays more than $125,000/year in property and PILOT to the Town of North Kingstown.”

A follow-up e-mail from ecoRI News asking to speak with someone further about the project’s impact on the local environment and economy was ignored.

The developer of the project, New Boston Fund Inc., answered an ecoRI News request for an interview by asking for more information about the story. After providing that information, ecoRI News never heard back from the Boston-based firm.

North Kingstown’s director of planning and development noted in a June 6 e-mail to ecoRI News that “the building is out of our jurisdiction and within Quonset’s.”

“We definitely hear a lot of complaints from residents regarding the vacant building and lots of ideas from residents as possible future uses,” she wrote.

Follow-up e-mails from ecoRI News seeking an interview to discuss the empty building and residents’ concerns were ignored.

In hopes of continuing the conversation with Lowe’s, ecoRI News sent subsequent e-mails to the spokeswoman, writing, in part, “Part of the story is about buildings, in this case, one built for a Lowe's store, being left behind when stores go out of business. There is plenty of fanfare when these projects are announced and built, but what about the shells and vacant sites left behind as community blights? I would like to speak with someone at Lowe's about this often-overlooked part of development.”

A June 14 e-mail from Lowe’s corporate answered that request in the same manner it answered our initial e-mail. “Lowe’s doesn’t own the property in North Kingstown; it was leased during the time we operated a store. You would need to speak with the property owner to learn about any future plans and maintenance of the property.”

However, the abandonment of big-box stores — not an isolated incident here, but a nationwide epidemic — isn’t a simple problem about ownership. These retail leviathans are built specifically to suit a renter’s needs. The vacant building on Davisville Road looks like a Lowe's for a reason.

Just because Lowe’s, or any other big national chain, rents the property doesn't excuse it from the role it plays on the impact these type of development mistakes leave behind. No one associated with the development, property or operation of this “anchor store” was made available to speak about the “triple bottom line” or how the “development actively promotes environmental, lifestyle and economic sustainability at a time when job creation and community benefits are more important than ever.”

 


This Walmart on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket has been sitting vacant for nearly five years. (Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)


Pattern of behavior
Grow Smart Rhode Island shared its concerns about the North Kingstown project two years before the Gateway Lowe’s even opened. In September 2007 Grow Smart submitted testimony to the Rhode Island State Planning Council regarding the revised site plan for the Quonset Gateway Center project.

“Grow Smart continues to have serious concerns about this broad expanse of single-story retail. First, it is a low-density form of development that does not use land efficiently. And, as Grow Smart stated in its original testimony, ‘this relatively low intensity use constitutes a basic inconsistency with the fundamental premise of Land Use 2025 which is that we should seek to accommodate the majority of our future growth by making efficient use of the infrastructured land within the urban services boundary.’”

The state-commissioned Land Use 2025 report was released in 2006 and was touted as “Rhode Island’s plan for conservation and development in the 21st century.” The plan is typically ignored when it comes to big projects proposed by big corporations. It’s really noting more than a feel-good story.

The recently released 2015 Rhode Island Wildlife Action Plan noted that “development pressures on land throughout the state are increasing.”

“The primary threat to Rhode Island’s fish, wildlife, and their habitats is conversion of land for housing, urban growth, and commercial, industrial, transportation, or recreational uses,” according to the plan.

Another concern expressed by Grow Smart regarding the development of the Gateway Lowe’s was that this single-story retail space and surrounding parking would result in a “great deal of impermeable surface.” The organization noted that QDC’s development guidelines required that not more than 80 percent of a parcel be covered by impervious surface. Grow Smart questioned whether the two-parcel site upon which Lowe’s was developed and now sits meet that percentage.

Grow Smart also noted that large national chains, with their ability to cut prices, often drive smaller local businesses out of operation and pull revenue out of the local economy.

Nearly a decade after expressing its concern about the project, Grow Smart offers this take, “By continuing with an auto-oriented development style, reliant on big box floor plates, Gateway Center is now stuck with an empty box and empty parking lot that will be difficult to redevelop. If Lowe’s found the location to be ‘underperforming’ chances are its competitors ... will find it similarly underperforming.”

The same can be said for another big-box store that sits vacant 37 miles to the north. An empty Walmart on Diamond Hill Road in Woonsocket is another apt reminder of how corporate chains take over the local retail economy and then relocate for a better tax deal and/or more space, leaving the landscape scarred.

The nation’s nearly 400 million square feet of vacant shopping centers and its collection of abandoned big-box stores have left behind half-empty downtowns and less-than-bustling main streets. Walmart alone has about 400 abandoned stores nationwide — some 30 million square feet of vacant retail space surrounded by thousands of acres of asphalt.

Walmart closed its 120,000-square-foot Woonsocket store in mid-September 2011, so it could open a 24-hour, 200,000-square-foot Supercenter store about 5 miles away in North Smithfield.

Across the street from this vacant Woonsocket Walmart is another empty Lowe’s. The big box has been vacant since 2013. Lowe's also left Diamond Hill Road to relocate to the Dowling Village retail center in North Smithfield. On the August weekday ecoRI News visited this deserted location, a small crew was using a leaf blower to collect the leaves that had fallen from the trees that border a sea of black pavement.

 

ecoRI News 111 Hope St., Providence, RI 02906

 


 

Town Council Rejects New Legacy Mall Proposal (8/9/16)

 

At the August 9th meeting, the Town Council discussed the revised mall plan from Legacy Development.  The item had been put on the agenda  by Councilmen Joe Souza and Dave Perry.  Following the discussion, Brett Pelletier, Joan Chabot, Peter Mello and Denise de Medeiros voted against the proposal, Joe Souza voted for it, and Jay Lambert and Dave Perry abstained. This latest proposal was a scaled down version of Red Legacy's original proposal without the requirement of TIF bonds from the town.  Nevertheless, the proposal still required major expenditures for the town including using half the sale price to be dedicated to landscaping.  It  required that the town break a newly renewed lease with the cell tower company that brings in almost $3,000 per month with absolutely no impact on our quality of life.  It tied up 108 acres for up to 560 days while they sought the necessary permits and still required a subsidy from the RI Commerce State agency. t Click here for Newport Daily News article.
 

Legacy Presentation Monday1/25/16 at Town Hall 7 PM:
 

The Tiverton Town Council hear a presentation by Legacy Development of Missouri and their proposal for a mall at the Tiverton Industrial Park on January 25 at 7:00 at the Town Hall.  The Council needs to hear from you, again, that large scale regional retail development is not what is wanted in the town.

 


 

From The Sakonnet Times

 

Tiverton outlet center developer and council to talk Monday

TIVERTON — Additional details — that could include public financing — about a proposal to locate a 130-acre outlet shopping center at the Tiverton Industrial Park will be discussed between the Town Council and the developer at a Council meeting Monday, Jan. 25.

The meeting is currently set for 7 p.m. in Town Hall, but depending upon the level of interest shown, could be changed to another venue.

The idea of an outlet center was first broached publicly at a council meeting in late November, when Legacy Venture West Development (Legacy Development) of Kansas City and the Town announced they had reached a “stand still” agreement on Nov. 23.

That agreement allows each side an exploratory period of 90 days to study the possibility — to do due diligence — without the risk of intervention by other potential purchasers.

If the whole deal goes through, Legacy and the Town of Tiverton have agreed to a purchase price for the acreage of $8.25 million.

Likely at the top of the list to be discussed by the Council and Legacy at the upcoming Jan. 25 meeting will be the level of public financing that Tiverton and the State of Rhode Island might be prepared to offer, and that Legacy might seek.

“Legacy is being asked what kind of public incentives from the State and from Tiverton it’s going to seek to make the project work,” Town Planner Marc Rousseau said. In other words, he said, “we’re asking Legacy to have their public finance guy tell us at the council meeting what they’re looking for.”

That could include tax increment financing and tax exemptions, he said.

Since November, Mr. Rousseau said Legacy “has been busy doing its due diligence” about the prospect of building a multi-unit outlet center at the location.

That due diligence has involved numerous issues, Mr. Rousseau said — “basics like access roads and building location.”

The basic configuration for the outlet center that’s being considered “is a horseshoe arrangerment,” he said, “and there’s a lot of wetlands on the site.”

Legacy has had site engineers from DiPrete Engineering Associates, traffic engineers, and an architectural-design firm from Kansas City (Hoefer Wysocki Architects) — all studying the site, Mr. Rousseau said.

“What we’re telling them,” Mr. Rousseau said, is that “the bylaws for the Industrial Park [now called the Tiverton Business Park] and zoning” will have to be complied with.

That means, he said, “any retail complex at the site has gotta be special and meet the code.”

“No building can be larger than 40,000 square feet, and there has to be 20 feet between buildings,” he said. And they also “have to comply with the Comp Plan [Comprehensive Community Plan].”

Last November 23, in comments to the council, Legacy’s Vice President of Development Bart Sides sketched out what Legacy had in mind for Tiverton.

“We do have a concept called ‘The Legends,’ which has been very successful in Kansas City,” Mr. Sides said then. “It’s an open air shopping center with a lot of landscaping.”

The type of retail outlet he’s talking about, Mr. Sides told the Council, “is typically not a big box concept. It’s usually 15,000 square feet or smaller. We have some tenants that go up to 35,000 square feet. We don’t want to rule out a big box if the right people come along, and if the community is open to that, and we certainly want to talk about it. But generally speaking this is not a big box concept.”

The Legends Outlets shopping center in Kansas City has about 110 stores. See: www.legendsshopping.com. By comparison, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets in Massachusetts has about 170.

Locating the proposed outlet shopping center on the northwest quadrant of the 172-acre Tiverton Business Park would entail moving the town police station and the Department of Public Works barn, now situated at the far northwest corner of the property near the intersection of Industrial Way and Fish Road, to another part of town.
There have been persistent rumors that one site for the two facilities might be further back into the business park and along Progress Way, near the Tiverton Power station.

The “stand still” agreement cost Legacy $2,500, and allows for a “potential extension of 60 days by mutual agreement of the parties.” This could peg the expiration of the 150-day “stand still” time frame to about the end of the third week in April.

There was to have been a meeting between Legacy Development and the Tiverton Economic Development Commission (EDC) on Thursday, Jan. 14, but for reasons that were not disclosed, and that are unclear, that meeting was cancelled or postponed, to allow Legacy to bypass the EDC, and to talk directly with the council instead on Jan. 25.

There have been suggestions, in letters to the editor and elsewhere, that Legacy and Capionato Development Group, whose proposal for a 63.4 acre multi-use development almost directly across Route 24 from the intended site of Legacy’s proposed project was nixed by the Town Council last year, had been in talks with each other.

Asked about that, Mr. Sides said, “I have no comment on Carpionato. We are very focused on the Industrial Park site and creating a project that is acceptable to the residents of Tiverton.”


 

From the Newport Daily News
 

"552,000-Square-Foot Development Proposed for Town Industrial Park"
By Marcia Pobzeznik
Correspondent Newport Daily News   1/23/16

 

Legacy Development of Missouri, which is proposing a 522,000-squarefoot development with retail, restaurants and a 120-room hotel for Tiverton’s industrial park, is scheduled to give a presentation Monday night to the Town Council.

 

The retail proposal for the 177-acre industrial park is one of several options the town is considering for the property that fronts on Fish Road and Route 24. The only tenant in the park to date is a natural gas-fired electric generating plant.

 

“As a council, we’re showing you exactly what our offers are,” Town Council President Denise deMedeiros said. “This is just a concept the Town Council has decided everyone needs to see.”

 

If too many people show up at Town Hall on Monday night, the Legacy presentation will have to be continued to next Monday at the high school, deMedeiros said, but that decision will not be made until the start of the meeting at 7.

 

The meeting could not be moved because there are two show-cause hearings that night for the demolition of two fire-ravaged homes, and the site of the hearings was part of a legal advertisement and cannot be changed, Town Clerk Nancy Mello said.

 

Legacy Development submitted backup materials Thursday night for its presentation. The 73-page file contains mostly pictures of some of the 50 other developments it has built in 14 other states, most of them in the Midwest.

 

The proposal for Tiverton, entitled “The Legacy Outlets of New England,” would have a five- to seven-year buildout and would rely on tax-increment financing agreements to help support the project, which Town Administrator Matthew J. Wojcik said might sway some away from supporting the proposal.

 

“If they say the only way to make this work is they give us a tax treaty, I’m a lot less interested in the concept, because they’re not doing anything for us,” Wojcik said. “I think these guys do really nice work, but at the end of the day, they could build one of the most perfect things, but if the numbers don’t work and the town doesn’t come out financially ahead, I fail to see the point of it.

 

“If you’re going to change the town forever, you better feel like you’re walking away with a few million,” Wojcik said.

 

“Legacy needs something from the town and the state,” Planner Marc Rousseau said of public incentives it is requesting for the proposed project. “They want a long-term real estate tax increment financing agreement with the town.”

 

On one page of the backup material, Legacy has a statement: “But for TIF (tax increment financing) the project may not be economically feasible to the developer, and therefore would not occur.”

 

Emera Energy, owner of the power plant, also has indicated an interest in buying the remaining land in the park for future expansion. An indoor sports facility has lined up financing for its project, which would use about 10 acres, Rousseau said, and Blue Sphere, an electric generating plant that would use food waste as fuel, still is in the picture. It would need 15 acres.

 

“We don’t have a purchase and sales agreement with anybody,” Wojcik said.

 

“All of the options are all very much alive,” deMedeiros said.

 

A map showing the basic layout of the proposed Legacy development includes square footage estimates for the total project. There would be 390,000 square feet of space for village outlet shopping/ restaurants, two additional restaurant/ retail areas with 35,000 and 23,000 square feet of space, and a four-story, 120-room hotel, for a total of 522,000 square feet. There would be a total of 2,462 parking spaces.

 

Legacy has offered the town $8.5 million for the land, but would need the property the police station and department of public works garage are on, so the town would have to build new buildings for those departments. Wojcik said a new police station that could be located in the rear of the property could cost up to $6.5 million. A DPW garage could also be located in the rear portion of the town-owned property.

 

The council majority last July rejected a proposal by a Johnston-based developer to change the town’s comprehensive community plan to allow a mixed-use retail, office, hotel and conference center development on 64 acres at Souza and Main roads and Route 24. That land is zoned residential and also would need a zone change. Over 1,800 residents signed petitions asking the council not to change the comprehensive plan to suit a developer’s needs.

 

The industrial park land is zoned industrial, but has an overlay that allows for retail development as long as none of the buildings are over 40,000 square feet, Rousseau said.

 


Deja Vu All Over Again

Despite the fact that over 1800 townspeople signed petitions rejecting plans for a 66 acre retail development, our Town Council is signing a standstill agreement with a developer that will potentially allow them to purchase the industrial park, as well as the land where the Police Department and Department of Public Works are located.  The company, Legacy Development, is proposing a  130 acre, “lifestyle” retail development including a big box store. They say they will pay the town 8.5 million.  However, both the Police Department building and DPW facility would have to be replaced and that's just the start of the costs to the town.  Other recent proposals for the Industrial Park including a power plant expansion, will be pre-empted by this development.  http://www.eastbayri.com/news/outlet-shopping-developer-courts-tiverton/

"If at any point, the traffic, environmental, financial or other aspects of ANY proposal do not make sense for the Town, it is the Planner's role and mine (Matt Wojcik, Town Administrator) to recommend that the proposal be altered or rejected."  This is a direct quote from Matt Wojcik our town administrator, in his response to one of our supporters who was expressing concerns about the "lifestyle" center being proposed for the industrial park.

One aspect of due diligence by the Town Administrator should be to fully vet the background of the company proposing any development.  We've included several links to articles discovered by one of our supporters in a 1/2 hr. Google search on Legacy/Red Legacy.

1.  Legacy Development is a new name, as of May 2015, for RED Legacy.

http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=222763592

2.  RED Legacy stopped making payments on their debts to force a restructuring.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The Legend Outlets shopping area in Kansas City, Kansas remains open while a foreclosure lawsuit is settled. KKR Real Estate Fund Holdings offered $131.5 million for the shopping center at an auction Friday. That group includes RED Legacy of Kansas City and the New York investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. A backup bid of $131 million was submitted by CRG Acquisitions LLC. E3 Realty Advisors of Los Angeles was appointed receiver of the shopping center last year after U.S. Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit because RED Legacy, the original Legends developer, owed $179.4 million. Dan Lowe of RED Legacy said the group intentionally stopped payments to force the auction because the debt needed to be restructured.
http://cjonline.com/news/business/2013-01-28/legend-outlets-shopping-area-auctioned-foreclosure


3.  A founder and managing partner of RED Legacy, Dan Lowe, created a few LLCs that provided campaign contributions to a mayor who was accused of taking bribes and was under investigation by the FBI.

More than half of Dennis' campaign contributions came from LLCs created by Dan Lowe , the founder and managing partner at RED Legacy. The company, which has overseen several well-known projects in the Kansas City area, is currently in the final stages of negotiating a large retail redevelopment project with the City of Grandview called, "Truman's Marketplace."

In February, Dennis received a $10,000 contribution from Venture Six Development, LLC. And the following month, he received an additional $5,000 contribution from Venture West Development, LLC.

It was also discovered the developer RED gave the mayor’s daughter two $10,000 “scholarships,” which, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, were spent on personal expenses.
www.kshb.com/news/crime/former-grandview-mayor-sentenced-to-federal-prison-for-wire-fraud

4.  Anchoring the Truman's Marketplace project will be a big-box retailer, thought to be a Walmart, The plan calls for $34 million in public financing for the $75.6 million project. 

Read more here:

www.kansascity.com/news/local/community/816/article12523550.html#storylink=cpy

www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2015/02/26/red-legacy-truman-corners-redevelopment-change.html

 

It's time to spread the word.  Let your Town Council know, again, that a large national regional retail development, no matter where it is located, is not what we want in Tiverton.  You can send your e-mails to:

Matt Wojcik    Town administrator    administrator@tiverton.ri.gov
Nancy Mello   Town Clerk                  nmello@tiverton.ri.gov


Thank you all!

To everyone who signed a petition, walked door to door, painted signs, put a sign on their yard, sat at a table, dragged friends to meetings, gave a donation, etc. etc., and spoke up despite their nerves, THANK YOU. Until that final vote, we had no idea how this would go, but over 1,800 people (per our signed petitions) believed in what was right for this town and last night our efforts made a difference. Late last night, the Tiverton Town Council voted 5-2 to reject proposed amendments to the town's Comprehensive Plan that would have allowed the Carpionato Group to move forward with its plan to build a mega-development on woodlands in Tiverton. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of the residents, business owners, volunteers, donors, Planning Board and Town Council members, etc., for all of your hard work. This shows we can all work together to make a difference for our town, our home, our Tiverton.

Thank you,

Don't Mall Tiverton


We Still Need Your Help

 

It's been two weeks since the Town Council voted against changing the Comprehensive Plan.  A very important part of our efforts to stop the Carpionato Glen project from moving forward then and in the future has involved getting critical information into the record and ensuring we were on firm legal ground in the event we needed to pursue legal appeals.

The expert testimony from the certified planner we hired also helped counter misinformation being presented by the developer as to the impact of the mega-development on our town and our Comprehensive Plan.  As of now, we still do not know if we need to proceed with our Zoning Board of Review appeal in order to prevent the developer from trying to get approval for the Comp Plan and zoning changes from a future town council.

Initially, we were able to keep up with fees for these services with donations from friends, family, and other generous individuals.  However preparations for the town council meetings including printing, mailings, phone calls, and the need for formal presentations of important information necessitated a significant increase of time and effort from our attorney and planner.

Would you please help us clear the books by writing a check in any amount to:

Don't Mall Tiverton

161 Highland Rd.

Tiverton, RI 02878

 

Or click to donate now through "Go Fund Me"  Donate Now

 


Sakonnet Times:  Tiverton Glen - Editorial: My way or …
by Eastbayri Staff

Carpionato Corp.’s failed attempt to build an immense commercial and residential complex in Tiverton may best be remembered as an exercise in how not to win friends and influence people.

Any shot the developer may have had early on to convince a hesitant town that this project might be a good fit ultimately withered under a cloud of suspicion.

Despite Tiverton’s track record of opposition to such grandiose schemes, the developer actually seemed to gain early traction. The planning board labored for months, then years, opposition audiences, while vocal, were small, and there were murmurings that this might finally be the one. And despite knowing the grief they would get, the planners pushed an amended plan along to the town council — Carpionato would get changes in the town comprehensive plan that it needed; Tiverton would get concessions too and some semblance of control.

But it was as though Carpionato had not listened to a word. It’s “my way or the highway” for them, critics said, and the developer did little to dispel the reputation:

People believed they saw it in:

• The way the principals and their lawyers sat in silence through the many long hearings, neither debating nor offering compromise;

• The lack of vigorous sales pitch. Towns like to be courted, be offered things like free public spaces, money or promises of wonderful things to come. Instead, an image developed that Tiverton ought to consider itself lucky to have the likes of Carpionato there at all;

• The lack of specifics. What sort of tenants might be coming? Too soon to say. What will these buildings look like? That will come later. How can this place succeed when nearby malls resemble ghost towns? We know our business.

• The utter refusal to give an inch. Certain things were clearly important to Tiverton and these were spelled out in the planners’ recommendations. People — among them police, fire, schools — were adamant in their objection to a Main Road entrance, for instance, and they wanted some control over aesthetics, lighting, signs and historic places.

Carpionato rejected all of this outright in a last-minute set of amendments. It was as though all of the planners’ efforts, all of the resident testimony, was so much hot air.

That was the last straw. Any friends the developer may have counted on kept lips zipped as throngs gathered at the high school waving a sea of yellow ‘Vote No” signs.

Carpionato’s vice president said in a letter this week that “Any development … is a negotiation.” That came way too late to salvage this plan.

Eastbayri Staff | July 24, 2015 at 8:10 am | Categories: Editorials | URL: http://www.eastbayri.com/?p=102863


"$100M Tiverton Glen project dealt blow"

Providence Journal Article:  http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150721/NEWS/150729791/11669/NEWS


"Town Council rejects plan change that would have paved way to Tiverton Glen"

The Herald News (Fall River Ma):  http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20150721/NEWS/150729400/0/SEARCH

 


click on the above image to watch the video (or click here)


One more hearing at Tiverton Council Meeting 20 July 2015.  7:00 PM at the High School -- Please attend, we need your continued support..

Thank you to all of you who attended the Public Hearing on July 7th.  Your message was loud and clear.  The Town Council will continue the public hearing on July 20.  Voice your opinions about the 64-acre mall/mega-development proposal at this July 20 public hearing.  Following the public hearing the Town Council can then vote whether to change Tiverton’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning ordinances to suit the developer.  Your comments make a difference!  Keep up the pressure on the Town Council!

  • A NO vote keeps local control of our town and our quality of life.
  • A NO vote means we can keep our scenic historic character
  • A NO vote says no to this mega-mall development and says no to to potential similar developments elsewhere in town.

 Bring friends/neighbors and urge the Council to VOTE NO!  This may be your last chance to voice your opinion.  Even if you spoke at the Planning Board meetings, you must voice your opinion again to the Town Council.

Everyone who would like to speak must be heard! (sign up to speak before entering the auditorium)

There are 750 seats in the auditorium and we need it filled to let the Town Council know that it’s not just “the same 50 people” that are opposed to this mega-development.

In the meantime, please help us by taking any or all of the actions described below.


1.  Go to the Town Council Meeting--this is of vital importance. 

If your voice is not heard the Town Council will assume you're in favor of the mall.  "Decisions are made by people who show up"

2.  Contact the Town Council  by e­mail or with a letter.

Even though you may have spoken at a Planning Board meeting, the councilors need to hear you are opposed to the mega­development. Most of them did not attend the Planning Board meetings. Please click here for councilor's addresses

 Sample Letter (feel free to use your own words):

 I am opposed to changing the Comprehensive Plan and our zoning to allow construction of the Carpionato project because it will create too much traffic, destroy a historic district, and hurt our small businesses. We will lose our quality of life without any guaranteed tax benefits to the town.

<Signed>

3.  Pick up a petition and get your friends to sign.

Remember each time you ask someone to sign their name, you have the opportunity to pass along information about the negative impacts of this proposal. You are only asking for a signature, while Carpionato is asking the Town Council for control of our town’s future.  Click here for petition (return petitions to Don't Mall Tiverton, 161 Highland Rd, Tiverton, RI 02878 or email as an attachment to contact@dontmalltiverton.org

4.  Make a donation.

The legal appeal to the Zoning Board of Review involves attorney's fees. So far we have managed with generous donations from friends and family. Please help us out and mail a check in any amount to:

Don't Mall Tiverton

161 Highland Rd.

Tiverton, RI 02878

 

Or click to donate now through "Go Fund Me"  Donate Now


New!  Letters to the Editor:

Tiverton commits all to developer, gets nothing in return. Read more here.


New!  Newspaper Articles:

Recent articles appearing in local newspapers, Read them here


Tiverton selling 10 acres in Industrial Park to developer

An article in the Fall River Herald reports the approval by the Tiverton Town Council to sell 10 acres in the Industrial Park to James Long.  Long proposes building a facility with indoor soccer and volleyball courts and a small gym and restaurant.  Long has agreed to pay the town $120,000 and make certain infrastructure upgrades to the Industrial Park.  The sale is expected to close within 120 days.

Read more here


Tiverton Citizens Appeal Planning Board Decision to Approve Mall

A group of citizens, including some abutters to the proposed Carpionato mega-development, have appealed the decision by the Planning Board approving the Mall Master Plan.  The appeal will be heard by the Zoning Board of review July 1.


Tiverton Town Council Looks to Set Date for Mall Hearings

The Town Council, in their regularly scheduled meeting of May 25th, discussed possible dates for public hearings on the Carpionato Mall Proposal.  The dates suggested, July 7th and July 20th must be confirmed by the school board since the meeting will be held in the high school auditorium at the next regularly scheduled Town Council meeting June 8. 


Articles in the local press summarizing the Carpionato proposal and opposition to it:

Article in the Providence Journal  click here

Article in the Newport Mercury  click here


Planning Board held 16th April.

At the last Planning Board meeting, the board voted to recommend approval of the 63.4 acre Tiverton Glen Mixed Use Development proposal, but imposed a number of conditions. The most significant was the requirement that the development not have an entrance from Main Road. Signs along Main Road for the entrance would be eliminated.  Finalized wording will be presented at the next meeting for final vote.

For further details (including additional conditions imposed).click here


 

Casino Proposed for Tiverton

You have probably heard that Twin Rivers is buying Newport Grand and wants to move it to Tiverton. The property is on the Tiverton side of Route 24 opposite the Harbour Mall. At this point, there is not enough information to have an informed opinion.

For more information, click here to see article in EastBay papers.

 


Petition Drive Continues

We continue to focus on gathering petition signatures to present to the Town Council since it appears that the Planning Board is going to forward the Carpionato plan. We need volunteers to circulate petitions in your neighborhood or to staff an inside table at Tom's market where we have been getting a great response. If you can help, please contact us at: contact@dontmalltiverton.org


 

More Letters.

 

From Anne Dupere:  "If you think you see empty, boarded up buildings now along Main Road, just fast forward 5 or 10 years from now. One by one our neighborhood businesses will fade away in favor of more big box retail and the padding of corporate pockets.

 

"Traffic implications alone will add millions of cars annually crammed into “2 lanes” in both directions for miles on our main traffic arteries. Tiverton will consist of devalued homes surrounding a huge commercialized mall. Infrastructure repairs and required expansion of our police and fire departments will only begin to scratch the surface of impending taxation increases. Warwick, home of multiple malls has double the tax rate of Tiverton. Do you want this community to become a Warwick? Sit at any intersection in Warwick and ponder that thought for awhile." (to see more click here)

 

From Bruce Hathaway: "The proposed Tiverton Glen development presents a number of concerns for many, especially those who value Tiverton's small-town nature. More troubling is the process attempting to circumvent the town's defining Comprehensive Plan to permit this specific development.

"The facts are clear. Tiverton Glen is a 60-plus-acre development that indisputably runs counter to the Town's Comp Plan and current zoning laws. The Planning Board is charged with determining if a planned development conforms to the current zoning and Comp Plan.

"By this standard, the Planning Board should reject Tiverton Glen as being in violation of current zoning and counter to the Comp Plan. Some on the Planning Board seem intent on ignoring this to give “conditional approval” to this development. The conditions? That the Town Council create a huge loophole in the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate this type of development." (to see more click here)

 


Tiverton Conservation Commission Rejects Mall Proposal

In a letter to the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission voiced their opposition to the Carpionato Development.  By a unanimous vote, the commission concluded that the size and scope of the proposed development far exceeds any reasonable limits and will therefore cause irreparable harm to the scenic beauty, rural integrity and environment of the town.  The letter then goes on to detail specific objections to the proposed project.  Read the full letter here:

Letter to the Planning Board from the Conservation Commission

 


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Sign up for our mailings!

If you are interested in being on our mailing list, have questions about the Carpionato proposal. or would like to support our efforts, please contact us contact@dontmalltiverton.org

Important Town Email Addresses:  click here


Board delays vote on Tiverton Glen; hearings to continue

Sakonnet Times, March 5th.

A vote on the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan to allow a mixed-used development off Main Road in Tiverton was delayed in the February 24th meeting of the Planning Board.  Instead, the board will consider required changes to Zoning and the developer's Master Plan before voting.  Presumably, a vote for the Comprehensive Plan, recommended zoning changes and the Master Plan will be taken at the same time.

See the article here: www.eastbayri.com/news/board-delays-vote-on-tiverton-glen-hearings-to-continue/

Originally, it was expected that the vote on the Comprehensive Plan would take place at the February 24th meeting.  See article here:

www.eastbayri.com/news/crucial-tiverton-glen-hearing-possible-vote-next-tuesday/


Developer would re-write the rules to get its way
Letter to the Editor of the Sakonnet Times February 10, 2015

To the editor:

Imagine that you want to pull off something big, really big. Only problem is, your plan goes against the rules. So much so that it can never pass.

But you really want this to happen. So, what to do? Well, one option would be, change the rules.

That seems to be the plan of the Tiverton Planning Board, faced with a proposal by the Carpionato Group of Cranston that seeks to construct a mega-development on Souza Road that completely rewrites the spirit and letter of the established Tiverton Comprehensive Development Plan.

That original 1992 “Comp Plan,” last revised in 2009, was derived by long range consideration of the town’s current and future quality of life, fed by extensive citizen comment. The Plan states that Tiverton is open to “commercial development … at a scale that does not adversely impact its unique small town character, does not burden its roadways and does not contribute to sprawl.”

In contrast, the proposed “Tiverton Glen” [glen: a secluded woodland valley] would occupy 64 acres (48 football fields), of which 25 acres (19 football fields) would be asphalt parking. The mega-mall would include hotel, retail, office, and residential properties. It would dwarf in size anything currently seen on this side of the bay. It would make Tiverton the Cranston of Newport County. And it would make untold amounts of money for Carpionato.

So, why didn’t the Planning Board reject out-of-hand the proposal by Carpionato, perpetrators of the huge Chapel View complex in Cranston, as clearly out-of-step with the expressed interests of Tiverton citizens? After all, nothing in our Comp Plan embraces the magnitude of “Tiverton Glen.”

Read more here!


Proposed Mall Threatens Historic District

Tiverton Crossings/Glen Proposal includes  44 acres (area 110) plus 19.5 acres of Osborne-Bennett Historic District land (area 301).

                                     TOTAL =  63.5 acres of mega-development

The developers say they want to build a complex like Chapel View in Cranston, Chapel View is built on a 30-acre site. Why do they need 63.5 acres in Tiverton?

 


Public Hearing on Feb 24th Could 'Make or Break' Mall Plan" Reports the Daily News
 

In an article by Marcia Pobzeznik in the February 4th, 2015 edition of the Newport Daily News.  The articles covers the Planning Board meeting of Feb 20th with quotes form chairman Steve Hughes.

 

The board is considering changes to the town Comprehensive Plan, changes requested by the developer, the Carpionato Group with additional changes proposed by the board.  These changes are necessary for the proposal to move forward.  As the Comprehensive Plan now stands, a proposal of the scale and type contemplated by the Carpionato would never be permitted.

 

The Comprehensive Plan, developed over the years by several citizen based committees with approval by the Town Council, make it clear that the town does not want large scale development such as proposed by Carpionato.  Carpionato has requested the plan be changed to remove all impediments to his proposed development--thus gutting the town's Comprehensive Plan. 

 


 

Letters:

 

Read new letter from Ralph G Doliber here

 

Letter from the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission

 

Carpionato Proposed Mega-Development "would be a substantial loss to the Historic District."  Read about the potential destruction of the Osborne-Bennett Historic District on Main Road here.

 


Tiverton Glen process mired in comp plan change debate

Sakonnet Times, December 23, 2014.  By Tom Killin Dalglish

TIVERTON — Residents are going to have to wait at least another month for the planning board’s recommendation regarding the massive Tiverton Glen (formerly Tiverton Crossings) mixed use development project.

Around 50 citizens gathered in Tiverton High School last Thursday for yet another of the board’s meetings on the subject. A dozen or so speakers offered comments; none spoke in favor of the project but some were angry about the process.

Before the board began its discussion of the developer’s proposed language changes to the town comprehensive plan, Planning Board member Rosemary Eva raised a point of order, questioning a meeting that had taken place between town officials and Carpionato representatives.

Read More Here


More Letters Received

Jan. 3, 2015

To the editor:

Tiverton residents who have been following news coverage of the 64-acre development proposed by the Carpionato Group may be aware that the main entrance would be built next to and in front of the circa 1845 Osborn house listed on the National Register. What most residents don’t realize is that the proposal threatens not just one historic home but if built, would destroy the entire Osborn-Bennett Historic District, one of only three such districts in Tiverton.

Not content with the 44-acre parcel abutting the district, the developers want to add to it 19 of the 27 acres that comprise the historic district itself in order to supersize their project. Chapel View, Carpionato’s large-scale development in Cranston, is built on a 30-acre site. Does the developer’s zeal to make the Tiverton project twice as big really take precedence over the town’s right to protect its historic resources?

The historic resources found in districts listed on the National Register typically include more than just old houses. The Osborn-Bennett District, for example, is comprised of 10 contributing buildings, four of them houses, and three contributing sites. These sites include 19 acres of open fields, as well as wooded areas that feature well-preserved three to four foot-tall stone walls marking former agricultural fields and the property boundaries.

Just how important are these fields and woods to the district? The short answer is very. The rural agricultural landscape provides the context that unifies the other historic resources in the district, including the homes, outbuildings and ruins. Together they provide a rare remaining view of Tiverton’s origins as an18th-century agricultural village.

To be listed on the National Register, a property must “still look much the way it did in the past.” By replacing the historic landscape with national chain stores and asphalt parking lots, construction of the Carpionato project would deface the district to the point that it would no longer meet the criteria for inclusion on the Nation Register.

The choice couldn’t be clearer: Preserve one of only three historic districts in Tiverton or pave it over to erect another Sleepy’s, Rent-a Center, and Town Fair Tire. And beware: as the Osborn-Bennett District goes, so goes Four Corners.

Carol Herrmann


Planning Board Considers Changes to Comprehensive Plan

At the recent Planning Board hearing on December 18, 2014, the Planning Board considered changes to the Comprehensive Plan to accommodate the Carpionato mall proposal.  The Board apparently reached a 'consensus', although no vote was taken, to ask the Cecil Group to provide the necessary wording that would allow consideration of a proposal that is clearly in opposition to the plan as it is now written. 

During the meeting, concerns were raised by Planning Board member Rosemary Eva about a meeting held November 13th with the town's planning consultant, Ken Buckland of the Cecil Group, Town Administrator Matt Wojcik, and Carpionato Group's two lead executives and planning consultant on the project.  Louise Durfee, town resident and former Town Council President, questioned the meetings propriety; "It looks like they are greasing the skids for amending the Comp Plan. Why the Cecil Group was meeting with the developer at all raises the question of a 'Back-Room Deal,' that was wrong."

Further news about the hearing was reported by the Sakonnet Times in their December 24, 2014 edition.


The Revised Mall Plan

Schematic Diagram for Tiverton Crossings Glen Mall


Traffic woes.

The developer has submitted a revised traffic study that is 315 pages long, yet traffic issues continue to be a major problem.  Their new study now hides the average daily car trips, but daily numbers have been revised higher.  Projected traffic has increased by almost 20% at some intersections over the previous study. This means the developer proposes adding over 10,000,000 car trips per year to just one half mile of Main Road and Fish Road, where they intersect with Route 24, the main access point for all Tiverton and Little Compton residents to travel in and out of town.

The revised traffic plan also continues to ignore Holiday shopping (estimated to increase traffic by 300% at other malls), and fails to include school traffic (the developer measured traffic during the summer school vacation).

Read more about traffic problems here


Mall Impact

While mall developers talk of malls in glowing terms and tax benefits, the experience of towns with malls is often very different.  See this link http://ilsr.org/key-studies-walmart-and-bigbox-retail/ for examples.

In our state, Grow Smart Rhode Island provides statewide leadership for diverse public and private interests seeking sustainable and equitable economic growth, read more here:  http://www.growsmartri.org/


Latest Mall plan (as Carpionato shuffles the deck), click here.

A Mall by Any Other Name

The Carpionato group has renamed their project "Tiverton Glen."  A glen is defined as "a small, narrow, secluded valley." By comparison, the definition of  mall is a shopping mall. a large retail complex containing a variety of stores and often restaurants and other business establishments housed in a series of connected or adjacent buildings or in a single large building.

 Kelly Coates likes to “giggle” at the term mall to describe his proposal, but his development certainly fits the definition of a mall. Judge for yourself. 


Tiverton Traffic Disasters in the Making

Carpionato has revised their traffic plan to address some of the concerns voiced by the town.  Nevertheless, most issues still remain. This development will generate 24,880 car trips, per day, on average, per the developer’s own submitted plans.

Each and every one of these 24,880 car trips will travel over a very short distance of Tiverton roads, either from Route 24/Fish Road to Souza Road or from Route 24/Main Road to the development entryway, each of which is less than a quarter of a mile from Route 24. This would add almost 25,000 car trips per day over less than a half mile of Tiverton’s roads, the roads which are Tiverton’s (and Little Compton’s) main access points to Route 24.

This increased traffic would require 3 new traffic lights on Main Road between Route 24 and Souza Road (all within a quarter mile of each other) and 3 new traffic lights on Fish Road, between Route 24 and Souza road (again, all with a quarter mile of each other). All these lights are the direct result of the proposed development.

Then there is the holiday shopping traffic: most shopping areas and malls have an increase of at least 300% during the Christmas shopping season from mid-November until Christmas. What will the roads be like when we add over 75,000 car trips to existing daily traffic on these primary Tiverton roads?

For more details on the impact of Carpionato's proposal, click here.


Carpionato's Troubled Legal Past

Kelly Coates of the Carpionato Group wants us to think he's more than willing to work with the town.  He says he's open to suggestions and willing to make changes to satisfy town residents.  So far the changes made have been minor--and do not significantly alter the development or its impact on the town.

In town after town Carpionato has a history of disregarding local and state permitting and ordinances.  Once a project gets approved, this developer has no incentive to work with the town.  Click here to see some of Carpionato's legal problems resulting from violations and broken promises.


Carpionato's Typical Tenants

The new plan for the Tiverton Crossings "Glen" development proposed by the Carpionato group for Souza Rd. is similar to plans presented and rejected by the townspeople 10 years ago.  Anyone who has visited Chapel View or any other Carpionato development knows that they lease to national chain stores such as Petco, Town Fair Tires, Staples, Sleepy's Rent-a-Center and GameStop. The area surrounding Chapel View is more secondary retail sprawl. This is not what the people of Tiverton envisioned in the current Comprehensive Plan and yet it is exactly what the Planning Board is currently reviewing.


Don't Let This Happen to Tiverton

Remember, Carpionato plans to add 2,557 parking spaces.  That's 25 acres of asphalt!

 

 

Last modified: August 22, 2019