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Amazon is opening a brick-and-mortar store in the Providence Place mall

Amazon’s 4-star store announcement comes as the Providence Place mall faces a carousel of store closures and the end of several of its most lucrative leases.

A view of a new Amazon 4-star store.Doug Peters/Associated Press

PROVIDENCE — Amazon, the online retail giant that has allowed consumers to shop conveniently with fast delivery and upset the traditional retail economy, is opening a brick-and-mortar location in Providence.

The “Amazon 4-star” location will be located in Suite 3145 at the Providence Place mall, but it’s unclear when the store will open its doors. Job postings calling for applications for retail associates list a starting wage of $16.50 an hour with benefits.

Amazon’s 4-star stores typically carry items from some of the most purchased categories on the company’s website, including devices, kitchen tools, home decor, toys, games, and consumer electronics. The products in the store are curated based on having four-star customer reviews online, or higher. Other items will be considered “new and trending.”

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Amazon opened two 4-star stores in Massachusetts; one opened in 2019 at the Natick Mall and the other opened in 2020 in Millbury at the Shoppes in Blackstone Valley. The company opened its first 4-star store in New York City, and now operates 33 across the US, according to a company spokeswoman.

But the Providence location should come at no surprise.

The company previously announced plans last summer to open several large, physical retail locations in the US that will operate like department stores but at one-third of the size. For years, as Amazon took market power from major big-box retailers, other brands have filed for bankruptcy, such as Neiman Marcus and JC Penney in 2020 alone, which added them to a long list of Chapter 11 filings, including Toys R Us, Sears, and Circuit City.

And Providence Place, in particular, has had its own set of financial struggles.

Brookfield Properties, the mall’s owners, fell behind on the property’s mortgage and attempted to refinance its obligations on the property, according to ratings agency Fitch in May 2021. The mortgage was placed in special servicing (which, in commercial real estate, is a distinct type of loan designed to help resolve troubled commercial loans) in April “due to monetary default,” according to Fitch as it downgraded the mall’s credit rating. Brookfield’s loan was modified in August.

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In January 2019, Nordstrom closed its Providence Place store, which was the sole remaining original anchor that opened the mall in 1999. Pennsylvania-based department store Boscov’s took its place. In 2015, JC Penney informed Brookfield Properties that they planned on vacating. The store’s space was demolished and replaced with an expanded parking garage.

Prior to Amazon’s announcement, the future of the mall has largely been in question. Fine clothing store Brooks Brothers and Sur La Table, a kitchen goods retailer, recently closed their locations. And leases for some of the mall’s most lucrative tenants are also coming to a close, including Old Navy in April 2022, DSW in January 2024, Dave & Buster’s in December 2024, Zara in October 2025, and Providence Place Cinemas in January 2026, according to Fitch Ratings.

Including the Apple store, the average sales of the stores inside the mall equated to $437 per-square-foot this year compared to $603 per-square-foot in 2017.

But it’s unclear if Amazon’s 4-star store opening will attract more prospective tenants to move into the mall’s vacant storefronts.

The news comes after Amazon received a tax break from the Town of Johnston to build a 3.8-million-square-foot robotics sortable fulfillment center off Hartford Avenue. The company has pledged to create at least 1,500 jobs and will easily become the town’s largest taxpayer.

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After spending $290 million on the warehouse, Amazon will pay an average of $7.2 million each year in property taxes to the town in exchange for a “community partnership agreement” that requires the company to fund road improvements, purchase bus passes for employees, pay for a career pathway program at Johnston High School, commit more than $5.3 million to public safety programs, and donate $50,000 to youth sports programs and $100,000 to the senior center.

The tax stabilization agreement is a 20-year contract.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.