Wasted Space: Ignoring R.I.'s Sea and Mountains of Concrete

By FRANK CARINI/ecoRI News staff

Rhode Island has plenty of vacant retail and office space, some of it has been empty for years. In fact, the United States has nearly 400 million square feet of vacant shopping centers. Walmart alone has about 400 abandoned stores nationwide — some 30 million square feet of vacant retail space surrounded by thousands of acres of asphalt.

Here is a look at some of Rhode Island’s wasted space (if you to submit a photo of such a place, send an e-mail to frank@ecori.org and include the address and property’s common name, at the least):

(Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

(Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

Apex Building

Address: 100 Main St., Pawtucket.
Built: 1969.
Lot: 10 acres.
Square feet: 100,000
Uses: Department store, Division of Motor Vehicles branch, restaurant
Status: Mostly vacant since 2001.

(Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

(Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

Cranston Street Armory

Address: 310 Cranston St., Providence.
Built: 1907.
Lot: The property the armory sits upon, 9-acre Dexter Training Ground, is part of city’s park system.
Square feet: 165,000.
Uses: Building was occupied by the Rhode Island National Guard from its opening until 1997. Since then, parts of the building have been used as film studios, and some of its offices were occupied by the Rhode Island state fire marshal.
Status: Largely vacant since 1997.

 (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

 (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

Superman Building

Address: 111 Westminster St., Providence.
Built: 1925-1928.
Lot: at 428 feet and 26 floors, it’s the city’s tallest building.
Square feet: 441,000.
Uses: Banking center.
Status: Vacant since March 2013.

(Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

(Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

Lowe's Big Box

Address: 1582 Davisville Road, North Kingstown.
Built: 2008.
Lot: Building is surrounded by pavement on all sides.
Square feet: 117,000.
Uses: Former home-improvement store.
Status: Vacant since late 2011.

(Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

(Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

Lowe's Big Box

Address: 2010 Diamond Hill Road, Woonsocket.
Built: 2001.
Lot: The newest part of Diamond Hill Plaza, which was built in 1971.
Square feet: 165,000.
Uses: Former home-improvement store.
Status: Vacant since 2013. A company that sells new and used biotechnology and pharmaceutical equipment is reportedly going to open at the location.

(Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

(Joanna Detz/ecoRI News)

Walmart Big Box

Address: 1919 Diamond Hill Road, Woonsocket.
Built: 1984.
Lot: Known as the Walnut Hill Plaza.
Square feet: 120,000.
Uses: Former retail store.
Status: Vacant since mid-September 2011.