The Herald News, Sunday, March 19, 2017 – Page A1

By Kevin P. O’Connor

Fall River – Joe Pacheco knows the small business climate in the city is picking up. His telephone told him. Tom St. Pierre’s phone relayed the same message. Frank Marchione is betting that message will be relayed to him. Those three, all business developers, placed their bets on the growth of small retail locally and are seeing their bets pay off. “It has been going very well for us,” Pacheco said. He built and is now filling the strip plaza on Broadway at Hope Street that opened with a laundromat a year ago. China Sails, offering Chinese cuisine to go, opened there just over a month ago.

“We have six of eight spaces rented out,” Pacheco said. “We are in negotiations with the other two.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

“There is a lot of interest out there right now for the right space,” said St. Pierre. He owns and manages the plaza that holds Heritage Liquors, 999 William S. Canning Blvd. That also opened slightly more than a year ago.

St. Pierre, who is a residential developer, built the plaza to host the liquor store, which he also owns. That store fills about a third of the available space. “I never was in a rush to lease out the remaining space,” he said. “I was considering expanding the liquor store. “But we’ve been getting calls regularly. My wife is meeting with potential tenants on Saturday.

“There definitely is interest there.” Pacheco said he saw interest in his storefronts pick up as soon as the state completed work on the Broadway extension and the entrance to Interstate 195. St. Pierre said he expects the steady traffic on William S. Canning Boulevard to get even better once Twin River builds a casino with its entrance a few hundred yards from his store.

“Traffic is everything,” he said. “You can see that with Joe Pacheco’s site.

He has the traffic that he should now that the work is done and that is a big help.”

Marchione is the new owner of the Executive Plaza at the corner of Davol Street and President Avenue. He is working on plans to renovate that plaza and hopes his work will take place at the same time as the state rebuilds Davol Street and Route 79.

Small plazas cater to small businesses that attract customers who live close by, no more than 10 or 20 minutes away.

Small shopping plazas have been hampered by a tight credit market for small business, Marchione said. But people need barber shops, nail salons, pizza parlors and doughnut shops.

“We have the advantage of parking at our site,” he said. “That is a big issue.”

With a new look to the plaza, and better traffic flow through the area, the plaza should thrive, he said.

“The market is fair now,” he said. “It should get better.”