Arcade, streetfront eatery among planned attractions at The Grant

Arcade, streetfront eatery among planned attractions at The Grant

Leslie Moore, owner of The Grant on Main Street, is planning a vibrant mix of tenants. The Grant will offer visitors chances to eat, be entertained, and shop.

PAWTUCKET – Leslie Moore, who purchased The Grant at 250 Main St. last year, understood that creating something new there might require taking some steps backward.

Moore remains enthusiastic about the prospects for this old-time indoor mini mall-like building, which she says will soon have attractions where visitors can shop, eat, and be entertained. The goal, she said, is to have “food, things to do, and things to buy” all in one place.

These are the reasons people go outside their home and to a downtown, she said, and the new version of The Grant will give them what they want.

One of the first steps Moore took upon purchasing the property was to inform tenants in the 18,000-square-foot building that there would be a new approach at The Grant. Those tenants who did decide to stay would need to create a component to attract visitors. As she shared with them her hopes for the facility, those that operated independently and weren’t going to establish that public aspect were told that they were “not a long-term good fit,” she said.

Moore and her team are in talks with a number of tenants. She plans two of the most significant attractions here to be an arcade and a restaurant/coffee shop. The eatery would be located in the right front window space previously occupied by a cafe, bringing needed life to Main Street, she said. Other places to eat are also likely inside the building.

The new owner said she’s planning a grand reopening of The Grant for sometime in May, and is in ongoing talks with a number of potential tenants. Spaces are being renovated in advance to make them more attractive to tenants, she said. Workers are preparing now for the anticipated addition of an arcade, she said.

The Grant, in this new incarnation, is intended to be a place where young people and families enjoy coming and spending time, she emphasized.

The developer recently completed a new multi-story playroom where children can go play for $5, and workers are also putting the finishing touches on The Backyard, a space that will be available as a rental venue for now, according to Moore.

“We have some folks who are interested in starting a juice bar there,” she said.

Moore also envisions some event spaces and other shared spaces for entertainers who can’t necessarily afford a larger venue.

Moore said it’s been “bittersweet” to see some businesses move on to larger spaces since she purchased the building last year, but those vacancies are opening up space to reshape what this building can be. The building offers 17 flexible spaces in an old 1934 department store. Former owners Jason Hogue and Michael Lozano completed numerous upgrades before selling it to Moore for $750,000 last summer.

Two of the businesses to leave were BeatBox Studio, which moved to a larger space on Newport Avenue, and the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health, which moved to Providence.

The plan here, said Moore, is to “build more intentionally,” with shared spaces adding to the life of the building. There is now more room to nurture the space and “grow it into something else,” she said. This is a building with plenty of “beauty and potential,” she told The Valley Breeze.

The new version of The Grant has various shares that are being reserved for specific uses, and those uses will be maintained to ensure the integrity and cohesiveness of the whole operation. One of those will be a “handyman share,” or a one-stop shop for anyone to get their home or business projects completed. Someone could get everything from keys made to a cabinet project installed, she said, with a group of workers all working together.

It will also be important to maintain a venue share to accommodate up-and-coming acts “to try out a concept,” Moore said. She could see business concepts from comedy to music sharing this area.

While there is plenty of intentional planning here, said Moore, there will be no fear of trying new things and even sometimes failing, as The Grant is designed as a business incubator space. Though there will be some turnover as businesses need to expand, she said she expects some mainstays to keep it as an attraction for the public, supporting the overall goal of making it a destination space.

The Grant is located right next door to the city’s parking garage, which is under renovation, and its planned resurgence is considered a key to redeveloping Main Street.

There are seven tenants still at The Grant, including a photography studio, weaving space, tattoo parlor, and the newly arrived Kelly’s Creatives art studio.

Moore says she has no regrets about her purchase of the property last year, saying she’s excited about seeing this initiative grow in part through the “power of community.” She remains excited about the potential along Main Street.

Moore’s company, Core Collaboratives, supports local entrepreneurs and helps them take steps toward making their ventures and growth a reality. She also owns three other buildings in the downtown with similar goals for business development including one just up the road at 41 Summer St., near the former Mangos, one near that one at 33 Summer St., and the Pawtucket Pawn building across the street from The Grant, at 255 Main St.

The Grant, at 250 Main St., is scheduled to have a grand reopening in May as a mixed-use attraction and business incubator space. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)
Worker Jeremiah Harris helped complete The Backyard space at The Grant, 250 Main St. The space may become a juice bar.
The interior of The Grant at 250 Main St. (Breeze photo by Ethan Shorey)