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brick

Bearish on RI

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This is a generally depressing time of year, so perhaps this is clouding my mood. However, I had occassion to check out the RI mall on Sunday and it has thrown me into a tailspin of epic proportion on my feelings regarding RI in general. As everyone knows, the only reason to go to the RI mall anymore is Wal-mart, and that's a generally crappy reason to go anywhere. The rest of the place is virtually empty. I felt like I was living "Dawn of the Dead." I headed over to the Warwick Mall and it was pretty dead too, and some vacancies are popping up.

I came back to Providence to just kind of hang around and noticed that there are more empty storefronts every day, it seems. The Arcade is almost empty, that area of Weybosset and Westminster is completely dead. Other than the Peerless/Alice area of Westminster, the area is pretty dead.

Grant's block will be long delayed and I am waiting for the W to announce their delay also. Sierra Suites seems gone which isn't bad from an aesthetic point of view but is a pretty bad sign about hte market in general. I will also be surprised if BCBS and TPC actually go ahead with [email protected] at this point. The housing market is stagnant and the population seems to be declining as people still flee to the suburbs and, more importantly, perhaps, out of state.

I am actively looking for a new job. There is virtually nothing in the Providence area that will pay anywhere near what I make working in Braintree, even after I account for quality of life issues with my sucky sommute. Providence jobs seem to be largely low paying clerical office work - the sweatshops of the 21st century. Other than the "hip" factor, I can't think of many compelling reasons for young professionals to move here and start families. The taxes are high, the pay is low, the schools are bad. With the contraction of the Boston area real estate market, the price of housing in the Providence area has come largely into line with Boston suburbs, if not Boston itself. And since all the jobs are in the immediate Boston area or north, there isn't any compelling economic argument to move here. I do think that the legislature, whether they want to admit it or not, have been relying on exploiting Boston refugees for every penny they are worth.

I know there is seasonal tourism and that this is the worst time of year for that which makes me overly gloomy. Still, I think tourism and real estate based economies are more suited to the Caribbean. RI should be taking advantage of the world-class talent of the New England area but is only creating opportunities for the lowest denomination of worker.

Is anyone really doing anything to change this?

Meh. Maybe I'll feel better in a week.

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dear brick:

Chin up, dude. pitchers and catchers, my friend. Pitchers and catchers.

yours,

jencolebobblehead

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I feel the same way a lot of times. I live in RI and work in MA and would love to find a comparable job here. They simply do not exist right now. But there have been some good developments in this area with GTECH, and Fidelity. When Fidelity moves a lot of there units down to Smithfield, that is also a good thing.

Others certainly share your doldrums. Time of year does not help either....

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The jobs climate is a bit chicken and egg (though it would help if the Assembly didn't bleed every dollar they could out of everyone). We were recently hiring for an executive position and the application pool was very shallow. Of course I'm used to working in New York, where we would put an ad on Monster and get over a thousand resumes within 12 hours (we had the luxury of arbitrarily rejecting resumes for random things, like we didn't like the paper it was on, or the font it was written in, I mean you can't actually read thousands of resumes). Our schools aren't helping us either, many companies are saying its becoming hard to find qualified entry level candidates who can read and write properly. It will take nearly a generation to fix that, even if the schools were prefect tomorrow, you still need to wait for the kids to grow up, which is why we need to work to retain our college students.

I wouldn't let RI Mall get you down though. I'm actually kind of happy when I see the state of the RI Mall, hopefully that will turn people off from building more like it. Wouldn't it be lovely to see the retail flowing back to Providence and the other town centers and see the RI Malls start being bulldozed for corn fields?

...Nothing But Flowers

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RI should be taking advantage of the world-class talent of the New England area but is only creating opportunities for the lowest denomination of worker.

Is anyone really doing anything to change this?

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Add me to the list of people who couldn't for the life of me find a job in RI and now work in MA. I don't know if that really means much though considering my job is generally a publicly funded job.

The saddest thing to me about the RI Mall is that it's actually thriving now, not the inside, but the outside. Walmart is packed as is Kohls on a daily basis. I almost think people have no need for any store under 30,000 square feet now.

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I came back to Providence to just kind of hang around and noticed that there are more empty storefronts every day, it seems. The Arcade is almost empty, that area of Weybosset and Westminster is completely dead. Other than the Peerless/Alice area of Westminster, the area is pretty dead.

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if i didn't have the job i have now, i wouldn't be working in RI. There are no jobs for me either, and when there are jobs, i don't even get interviews because i am some sort of local liability, i guess.

I understand the bummed out feelings about RI. I'm one of those peeps who actually work to try to try to make the city better as a career and there needs to be a major cultural shift in Providence, on every level from tenant on up to Administration before i'll feel good about things here, and i am sorry i'm a downer but i don't see it happening in my lifetime.

if it snows tomorrow though, i may change my mind about everything.

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Don't be so negative... 2007 should be a big year and give Providence another injection of life

Hilton (formerly Holiday Inn) Renovation: ** OPEN/COMPLETE **

ALCO phase 1 (first 5 buildings - office & retail space): first tenants now in

Roger William's Botanical Garden expansion: March 2, 2007

Providence Renaissance Hotel (Masonic Temple): April 24, 2007

AS220 Dreyfuss: May 2007

Roger William's Zoo; 'Plains of Africa' upgrade: June 2007

Foundry/Sharpe Building - final phase: June 2007

Westin II Hotel addition and residences: July 2007

Wickenden St. Comm CTR & Library: August 2007

Westin II Condo tower: September 2007

Wayland Square Armory Condos: September 2007

333 Atwells Condos: November 2007

Waterplace / Intercontinental: December 2007

IWAY: I-95N to I-195E opens (new bridge): December 2007

Miriam Hospital expansion: December 2007

Hilton parking garage: December 2007

T. F. Green Airport Terminal Renovations: December 2007

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Don't be so negative... 2007 should be a big year and give Providence another injection of life

Hilton (formerly Holiday Inn) Renovation: ** OPEN/COMPLETE **

ALCO phase 1 (first 5 buildings - office & retail space): first tenants now in

Roger William's Botanical Garden expansion: March 2, 2007

Providence Renaissance Hotel (Masonic Temple): April 24, 2007

AS220 Dreyfuss: May 2007

Roger William's Zoo; 'Plains of Africa' upgrade: June 2007

Foundry/Sharpe Building - final phase: June 2007

Westin II Hotel addition and residences: July 2007

Wickenden St. Comm CTR & Library: August 2007

Westin II Condo tower: September 2007

Wayland Square Armory Condos: September 2007

333 Atwells Condos: November 2007

Waterplace / Intercontinental: December 2007

IWAY: I-95N to I-195E opens (new bridge): December 2007

Miriam Hospital expansion: December 2007

Hilton parking garage: December 2007

T. F. Green Airport Terminal Renovations: December 2007

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matt, if I had a marketable idea that didn't require a bunch of capital I would start my own business tomorrow. Actually, I could probably find capital I just need the idea. :)

greg, regarding retail space, I spend a lot of time in Hope Village, and the high end salon/spa is gone (to Borington), the handbag place moved to Elmgrove and has been vacant since, and the bookstore just closed this week. There are vacancies on Thayer St. that have been aging for close to a year. This bothers me more than the downtown stuff, if only because I spend more time in these places. My problem here is that landlords still think they can charge exhorbitant rents on a s.f basis, and looking the numbers, they have to in order to support the burden of taxation. The problem is obviously circular.

Thanks everyone for any words of encouragement.

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As for the assertion that the "schools are bad," that's something I hear on UP from people who don't have much firsthand experience with schools in Providence whether public, parochial, or private. Some research will reveal that there are plenty of exceptions. Not to say there isn't a lot of room for improvement but it's no way near as bleak as you suggest. :)

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Little Rhody has its problems, BUT

I came here specifically for the job, which was very difficult to come by in Boston. And PVD is an ideal place to be entrepreneurial and open up a business (though it is getting less so with big increases in cost of living). So there are some distinct advantages we have down here, if the powers that be take care to nurture that climate, rather than stifle it...

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I can second Eltron. I came here for my specific job, which is an opportunity that for me only existed in Providence. I think if you are looking for low barriers to entry or an accelerated position, Providence (as a small state capital, minor center of industry, center of education, etc.) is an ideal place to be. I'm not sure we'd want to be Phoenix or Atlanta or Charlotte. And regarding downtown, I hate to always harp on this but do you remember what is was like 2 years ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago? There is a palpable, steady improvement. Sure, we all wish it went faster, but this is city building. If it's genuine, it ain't quick.

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Cotuit, on the issue of education, I'm not saying it's not THAT bad. I'm saying it's not ALL bad. There's a difference. What is bad is inexcusable and needs immediate attention. But not EVERY school is bad, which is what was asserted. Saying that ALL the schools suck not only does not reflect reality but it creates a sense of despair and hopelessness that makes it MORE difficult to motivate people to address the problems at hand.

As far as Hope High goes, there have been HUGE improvements over the past couple of years since the school was split into three units (Leadership, Technology, Arts). Discipline is now under control and kids are learning. Vartan Gregorian Elementary has won a national award for Title One schools. Districtwide, test scores have gone up.

This is not to say that the Providence Public School system is a-ok. It has serious, serious problems. Many schools struggle and the system is beset with the problems that apply to most urban districts with high rates of poverty not to mention a inequitable and unpredictable statewide funding formula. But the situation in Providence is not hopeless. It's critical and dire. If people begin to think it's hopeless then they give up on the idea that public education in the city can be improved.

As far as retail goes, I hear you Brick, but it seems to me that there has always been turn-over in small business on Hope Street. Yes, the handbag place closed and moved to Wayland Sq. But maybe Wayland Square is just a better fit for them not because Hope is on its way down but because it has a different vibe (maybe more VW Jetta or Toyota Prius than Mercedes). Ye Olde Bookshoppe had a really difficult business model, buying and selling used books at a profit particularly in the case of paperbacks. Plus, they had a really dumb name and a cheesy sign which don't conduce to attracting customers.

Still, Hope St has plenty of booming and appealing retail stuff like Seven Stars, Frog and Toad, Apsara, not to mention the Not Just Spices mini empire. Hope St Pizza does a lot of business, expanding to occupy three storefronts, and Blaze has added stability to a space that was previoulsy plagued with high turnover. So I just don't see this as a faded retail area like North Main Street or Downtown Pawtucket (yes, hopefully that will change in time.)

Cheer up. Spring is coming!

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And regarding downtown, I hate to always harp on this but do you remember what is was like 2 years ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago? There is a palpable, steady improvement. Sure, we all wish it went faster, but this is city building. If it's genuine, it ain't quick.

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I, too, moved here specifically for my job after specifically coming here to attend URI - which had/has a darn good engineering program.

I feel that Rhody has enormous potential, and by being so small I feel like maybe there are things I can do... WE can do to help it along; to help it meet our needs and expectations.

Speaking of... If you want to start talking about ways to make the city fulfill your hopes and dreams, join us at Jewel on the 27th.

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I, too, moved here specifically for my job after specifically coming here to attend URI - which had/has a darn good engineering program.

I feel that Rhody has enormous potential, and by being so small I feel like maybe there are things I can do... WE can do to help it along; to help it meet our needs and expectations.

Speaking of... If you want to start talking about ways to make the city fulfill your hopes and dreams, join us at Jewel on the 27th.

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And regarding downtown, I hate to always harp on this but do you remember what is was like 2 years ago? 5 years ago? 10 years ago?

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You guys meet too early. I don't get back to PVD until 6:15 at the earliest and if I'm good about going to the gym, closer to 7:30.

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5:30pm is the secret way to get people somewhere by 6pm. We'll just be getting underway by 6:15pm.

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But what time does the line dancing start? :shades:

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