More broken promises in Eagle Square


David Segal pretty much nails it with his RI's Future post about Shaw's plans to close its supermarket in Eagle Square:

Many Olneyville residents and activists are (rightfully) saying “I told you so” at the news that the Shaws at Eagle Square will be closing.

The Shaws was one of the major supposed benefits of the Eagle Square project, which got a huge tax incremental financing deal from the city — even while displacing countless residents and businesses and entailing the demolition of several historic mill buildings.

It gets back to that fundamental debate about what a “neighborhood” is, or needs to be. As the TIF moved through the Council, many argued that Olneyville was already well-served by a supermarket — PriceRite — and many smaller markets and bodegas. It appears that they were right.

More evidence that antiseptic gentrification and mega-chain retailers don’t make neighborhoods vibrant, or even functional — even as they raise property values. (And while taxes won’t be going up on Olnevyille’s many tax-stabilized developments, rank-and-file property owners and renters are about to get slammed.)

Gadfly Judith Reilly had earlier reported on how the Eagle Square Tax Increment Financing plan wasn't working out as planned.

As someone who was there when this whole controversy was going down, I share the lack of surprise described by Segal. As I wrote back in 2001, with a story that enraged then-Mayor Buddy Cianci:

There's certainly reason to be skeptical about Feldco. During meetings of the Providence Plan Commission last November and December, company officials did everything they could to demonize the mill buildings of Eagle Square as derelict structures and impediments to economic development. Preserving any of the buildings was not financially feasible, they said, because of floodplain and environmental issues. In fact, it was difficult not to imagine a better, more sustainable use for Eagle Square than a generic strip mall, and it was steady opposition by a coalition of artists, preservationists, and neighborhood residents that finally led Cianci to sit up, take notice, and demand changes.

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