WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Planet Fitness will be the newest tenant at the once-vacant Rhode Island Mall, according to the property’s developer.
The gym franchise is expected to open its doors in late 2017, according to P. David Bramble, managing partner at MCB Real Estate, which bought the mall in mid-2015.
The former shopping center opened as the Midland Mall in 1967, when it was the first two-story mall in the state. But after years of decline it lost its final interior stores in 2011, and the empty shell sat vacant until Burlington Coat Factory opened last summer.
MCB acquired the mall from Winstanley Enterprises and Surrey Equities, which had hoped to turn it into factory outlets. MCB converted the two-level, open-atrium mall into several big box stores.
Bramble said with the addition of Planet Fitness the mall is now at 85% occupancy, but can still accommodate one or two other tenants. He wouldn’t say specifically which potential tenants may be coming in the future, but said some are already expressing interest in filling the space.
“My guess is that we’ll have all the leases done by the end of the year,” he said. “And we’ll be fully open and fully occupied by the middle to the end of next year.”
In addition to Planet Fitness, a new Dick’s Sporting Goods will also soon be opening inside the mall.
The mall’s current tenants include Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Sears, though the latter has been closing stores across the country.
“Do we think Sears will survive long term? I don’t think anybody really believes that,” Bramble said. “But we do believe in the quality of the real estate.”
Bramble said if Sears does close in Warwick down the line, he’s confident there will be another tenant waiting in the wings.