Group prepared to buy Main Street buildings

Group prepared to buy Main Street buildings

Leslie Moore, owner of the Still on Main mini mall at 250 Main St., is part of an ownership group looking to buy the former Narragansett Bay Insurance Company property across the street. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)

PAWTUCKET – The city’s downtown area is fast becoming a hub for Black-owned businesses, and Leslie Moore, now set to be the area’s largest property owner, is leading the way.

Moore confirmed this week that she and a group of investors are nearing the finish line on the purchase of 217 Main St. and 25 Maple St., the former home of Narragansett Bay Insurance Company, and the purchase would give her an ownership stake in six downtown businesses, up from four currently.

The developer and entrepreneur opened the Still on Main mini-mall across from 217 Main St. last year. There are now some 40 tenants doing business in her Pawtucket buildings.

Along with Moore, two other major investors in the pending purchase of the former NBIC property include the Dream Collaborative, an architecture firm in Boston, and the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Leadership in Providence. There are also three other investors set to be part of a new LLC, she said.

Moore said she’s really excited to be partnering with a company that’s been a part of many neat projects in Boston. She’s planning to meet with city representatives this week to discuss how officials can make decisions around supporting what’s happening in the area.

Moore said it’s especially exciting right now, with so much attention on challenges related to discrimination and racial disparities, to see Black people be such a big part of new investments in the downtown. The effort is encouraging people of color, many of them perhaps seen as the least likely to own properties, to start their own businesses and tell “a different sort of story,” she said.

The former NBIC property covers more than 45,000 square feet of space on multiple floors, said Moore, and there are a number of “cool concepts” for street-level retail spaces.

“There are some really neat retail storefront sort of spaces,” she said, and filling them would change the look and feel of a Main Street that can sometimes offer a depressing scene.

The bulk of the property would likely be for office space, she said, with the hope of attracting graphic design and tech companies.

The main focus of the entire ownership team is activating the downtown area, Moore said, with some initiatives able to be achieved within one to three years and then opportunities for larger development after that.

Architects are putting a lot of planning and research into how to design the area to make it an attraction, including outdoor seating, activities, and beautifying the exterior of buildings.

Moore said the goal for downtown spaces has been to make them centers of authentic cultural expression, celebrating the cultures of the city and the movement toward Black ownership.

With a new soccer stadium and associated development planned for the nearby riverfront, Moore said her emphasis with those she partners with is to make sure that Main Street is every bit the attraction that the stadium will be, and that the riverfront project does not distract from what’s happening in downtown. The way that happens is to create more places for people to patronize and more exciting offerings, she said, all part of making Main Street the attraction that the stadium will be.

A Central Falls resident, Moore said she’d love to see both Central Falls and Pawtucket embrace this expanding cultural hub.

At Still on Main, said Moore, entrepreneurs have come back as Rhode Island has reopened, with signs of life returning. In addition to new outdoor seating, two new indoor spaces are also set to open. More kitchens will contribute to what is “more of a food court feel,” she said, and the facility’s new status as a commissary will allow more people to test food products to sell in the space.

A big believer in God’s providence, Moore said she and her group will secure the properties across the street for well below the numbers previously being sought. After losing out on an auction of the building, the person who outbid her didn’t take the next step, allowing her group to step in at a more affordable price that will allow them to put more resources into the building.

Developer Michael Leshinsky, who is doing a separate condo project in the downtown, had previously expressed interest in purchasing the Main Street property.

Moore said one of the most exciting aspects of this new downtown expansion is the partnership with the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Leadership, which, paired with the Social Enterprise Greenhouse and its coworking space, will help promote place-based entrepreneurship and help new business owners expand and flourish on Main Street. Though many are starting small, she said, they don’t have to stay that way.

Comments

It is refreshing to hear of this good news in these challenging times. Good luck Ms. Moore, and keep up the good work! Good things are happening in downtown Pawtucket and Woonsocket.