When the wrecking ball tore through the mills on Jefferson Street that had been there for over a century the word was the site was going to be the home of the new Lowe's. Personally I would rather have had the old mills and remember when that the cluster of mills in that area were a bustling bunch of outlets. But somehow we let the outlets wither on the vine and watched the Wrentham outlets bloom and grow. All things considered maybe a Lowe's could be a benefit to the city, but the property sat for far too long. Then I heard rumors it was going to be a Market Basket! Well I had already heard all this hype about New Bedford's new Market Basket and thought this might be a nice addition, if not the best use for the property. Finally, word comes out that the location will be the home of a new Super Wal-Mart and I am well underwhelmed.
A new Super Wal-Mart? Why? Oh don't get me wrong I have gone to the Super Wal-Mart in Raynham enough to see the benefit of having one. The current Wal-Mart seems to have tried to cram so much into their space that they no longer offer much of a selection of anything. But what waste of an opportunity to put a Wal-Mart there on a site that has so much more potential.
Over the last several months I have driven by and thought gee with the site right next to highway access, and it being waterfront property to boot this could be an interesting place for maybe commercial development , maybe some residential. Maybe this could be shopped as a potential site for companies that want to be near the ATMC. Oh I admit what I'm talking about is idealistic and maybe unreal but a Wal-Mart? We HAVE a Wal-Mart! Why not just have Wal-Mart expand into the mall? Nothing else is really in there!
A Super Wal-Mart isn't going to bring many long term jobs and they're certainly not going to be high paying jobs. Any jobs it brings has to be offset by the jobs you lose by closing the existing store and the negative effect that could have on the struggling mall.
It's just so disappointing. Now don't get me wrong if I owned the property I would embrace this deal with open arms. This isn't a situation of people not having any vision. It's a situation of Fall River not having done more to make itself more marketable so you could bring in better proposals. And it's not like a Super Wal-Mart is the worst thing that could have happened it's just not something that I see as a building block for a better Fall River.
I thought about it afterwards. If the site is going to be retail center what would be the ideal fit? What would be something that would a draw for the community? What would be something that would ideally draw from OUTSIDE the community? Well my best thinking was an IKEA. I have to think an IKEA would go over great in Fall River. The furniture has a somewhat upscale look and feel to it. It's affordable and it's perfect for hauling up to the 3rd floor. On top of that IKEA is a big draw and I have to think one in Fall River would draw from Providence and out toward the Cape.
But again, the problem isn't that we didn't think of IKEA (or anyone else) it's that they didn't think of us. This seems like some corny slogan but if you want people to be attracted to Fall River you have to do more to make Fall River attractive. So far we've done a horrible job of realizing that and making that a priority.