CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’ve been to Garden City Center in the last four years, you have likely noticed some pretty big changes. We caught up with the general manager to understand the strategy behind what’s happening.
General manager Joe Koechel calls his complex not an outdoor mall, nor a shopping center, but rather a “lifestyle center.”
“People are really flocking to more of a lifestyle center now,” said Koechel, “and there’s more being built and redeveloped now than there are inclosed shopping centers.”
When three large retailers went bankrupt, they left tremendous space behind. Koechel says all that vacant space let him begin a new vision. He wanted to expand the village atmosphere past the iconic gazebo and split the vacant space into new stores, and he did.
“It really started snowballing, and they see the success and they see the plans and the transformation and it excites the retailers, too.”
The grounds have supported five generations of shoppers, and Koechel knows today’s shoppers have changed; they’re looking to make one stop for all their needs. And the expansion isn’t over; the next phase will include more restaurant and retail space, with green-ways stretching across the parking lot. While there’s still vacant space, Koechel would rather wait for the right tenant than take the first one available.
“As we grow, so does the job growth here in Cranston. Not only the retail, but the construction.”
Koechel added it’s not just about attracting shoppers, it’s about creating an experience, a place where you want to spend time with your family.