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New Trader Joe’s may open on Wickenden in two years

Project awaiting formal announcement by I-195 Commission, official lease is unconfirmed

The national grocery store chain Trader Joe’s may be working to open a new store in Providence on the corner of Wickenden Street and South Water Street, according to Jewelry District Association President Sharon Steele.

The chain is “in the process of trying to bring a store to the area,” said Kenya Friend-Daniel, national director of public relations at Trader Joe’s. But, she added, “I can’t even confirm an address or a timeline at this time.”

A grocery store must be built on the parcel of land on Wickenden, according to the location’s request for proposal. The official lessee will remain unconfirmed until the lease with the I-195 District Redevelopment Commission has been finalized, Steele said.

“Nothing has been formally announced by the I-195 Commission that, in fact, Trader Joe’s is the grocery store that is being vetted for that location,” said Steele, “but clearly everyone and his brother-in-law has gotten word that that’s the case.”

The grocery store’s identity will not be announced “until all the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed,” Steele said.

Assuming official announcement of the lessee in March, Steele added that “they could be in the ground … mid-year, and it’s about an 18-month build-out,” meaning that the new store would not open for approximately two years. “We will have a much better handle on (the timeline) as soon as the I-195 Commission officially announces that Trader Joe’s is, in fact, the lessee for this parcel,” Steele said.

Trader Joe’s is “looking to bring a store to (Providence). We think it’s a great location, (and) we like to bring stores to areas where we’re wanted,” said Friend-Daniel. “For us to even be looking in an area, we have to have at least a feeling or an expectation that people would want one there.” Friend-Daniel has “no idea” how the rumors started that the lessee would in fact be Trader Joe’s.

“This is a pretty big deal,” Steele said, because “we are sorely in need of a grocery store and have expressed that ad nauseam for the last 10 or 12 years.” She explained that many people who live in the Jewelry District, Fox Point and Downtown currently trek all the way to Warwick to get groceries, and that “it would be fabulous to be able to literally walk over the (pedestrian) bridge … to do your shopping and walk home.”

Steele said that “Trader Joe’s in Warwick … has a huge following,” and that nearby residents “would be thrilled to be able to have something that is in such close proximity.”

Some University students are excited about the prospect of a grocery store conveniently located near campus, especially a Trader Joe’s. “Trader Joe’s is, you know, the place,” Rebecca Siegel ’23 said. As the co-president of Brown’s Cooking Club, “being able to get ingredients that easily and having (Trader Joe’s) on Wickenden ... would actually be really useful. For the club, and also just to cook in general.”


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