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Year in Review: 2004

A lot happened over the year of 2004, between Planning Board hearings, project approvals, and new store openings, along with the rebranding of the largest area bank. Here is a summary of what happened, on a month by month basis.

JANUARY: Loews Cinemas closed in Natick after being rumored to close for years, after plans for the Natick Promenade were approved by the Natick Planning Board.

FEBRUARY: No retail news.

MARCH: No retail news.

APRIL: On April 9, Gateway closed all of it's Gateway Country stores, including the Framingham Shoppers World location.

MAY: On May 25, Nordstrom announced that it would be one of the anchor tenants for the Natick Mall Expansion, becoming the first tenant to sign on.  Office Depot also acquired many of the Kids 'R' Us leases, including that of the Shoppers World location.

JUNE: Baker Properties, owners of the Natick Promenade, announced plans to acquire the LensCrafters building in front of the La-Z-Boy and expand the building.

JULY: On July 1, Neiman Marcus signed on as the second anchor of the Natick Mall Expansion. On July 6, Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse made it's first appearance at the Framingham Planning Board to demolish the Verizon Building on Rte. 30 and replace it with a Lowe's with a parking lot on the roof. On July 10, the Natick Mall Expansion was approved by the Natick Planning Board. However, by the end of the month, the town of Framingham announced that it would appeal the project due to excess traffic. Dick's Sporting Goods also announced plans to demolish the former Decathlon USA and Starbucks, and construct a two floored Dick's Sporting Goods and new Starbucks. Famous Footwear and The Children's Place also signed onto Sherwood Plaza for the former Zany Brainy space.

AUGUST: The Natick Mall gained two new proponants, Federated Department Stores, owners of Macy's, and Nolan Brothers, the owners of the adjacent self-storage building.

SEPTEMBER: Despite the appeals against the project, the Wonder Bread factory began to be demolished on September 28 after a GGP-sponsored party for former factory workers, making local newscasts. Filene's Basement also announced that they would be returning to Framingham after claiming that they were kicked out of the Framingham Mall in 1999.

OCTOBER: Circuit City opened it's new store at the Natick Promenade on October 14, with a dry opening about a week earlier. Dick's Sporting Goods' proposal for a new store also was approved by the Natick Planning Board. The Container Store also announced that they would be going into the property that currently houses Ben and Jerry's.

NOVEMBER: General Growth went back in front of the Natick Planning Board in order to get parts of the project approved in order to allow construction to occur while appeals were negotiated. Filene's Basement opened on November 17. On November 26, Famous Footwear opened at Sherwood Plaza.

DECEMBER: Office Depot opened on December 2. Lowe's plans were coming closer to reality, but due to problems with the Rte. 30 connector road, they missed getting the project in an executive session. On December 6, Fleet Bank signs changed to Bank of America, reflecting the merger that was approved in April. The Natick Mall put up a banner promoting new condominiums at the mall, which was taken down after a few weeks at the request of the Natick Planning Board. On December 30, it was made apparent that a Bob's Discount Furniture would open in the area sometime in the new year.

The region saw many changes in 2004, but the fruits of the Planning Board labor are likely to be seen in 2005, with the opening of a new Dick's Sporting Goods, and likely construction on the Natick Mall Expansion and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.

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