East Greenwich Square (a.k.a. Dave’s Plaza) at 1000 Division St. is going to get a makeover starting this spring, to make it more visually appealing and pedestrian friendly, a representative of plaza owner Edens told the Town Council Monday night.
After a slow start – remember Edwards then RoJacks supermarkets? – the plaza, built in the late 1980s, has become increasingly popular in recent years, so much so the town had to ask the owners to modify the parking lot because of frequent accidents there.
Today, with large tenants Gold’s, Dave’s, Walgreens, and Panera, and smaller ones like The Savory Grape, Orange Leaf and the new Symposium Books, the plaza gets many thousands of customers a day.
One aim, according to Edens’ representative Keith Hague, is to refresh the exterior. They plan to use textures and colors to break up the facade. Clapboard will be used on the facade itself, with cedar wood on the underside of the pedestrian overhang. Still, Councilman Mark Gee questioned why the plaza couldn’t be fashioned to look like the plaza’s new BankNewport building or the CVS across the street.
“It looks like a shopping center,” Gee said.
Hague acknowledged the plaza’s design limitations but said the changes really would bring about a new look. In addition, there will be an expanded outdoor seating area for Panera and a new (as yet unnamed) tenant is planning to move into the China Buffet spot and there will be outdoor seating there as well.
The number of parking spaces will remain unchanged. When Councilman Mark Gee asked about the parking, noting that some drivers at the plaza seem oblivious to safety concerns, Hague said Edens had done a lot to address parking lot safety issues in recent years.
“We did go through a pretty extensive process with town staff to improve things,” he said. “It’s a large parking lot, a busy parking lot…. We added some islands over at the Walgreens entrance, eliminating cut-through movement which I think has been a huge benefit to traffic circulation. We added some striping and signage as well.”
The work is expected to take place in three phases, starting on the Panera side this spring and finishing up with Dave’s and Walgreens in the fall.