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News Updates: January 2005

All updates from the month of January 2005 are listed below.

Maternity Stores Combine Under One Roof
Written by Justin on January 29, 2005 at 7:32PM

In a small piece of news, Philadelphia, PA-based maternity retailer Mothers Work Inc. is closing it's Motherhood Maternity and Mimi Maternity stores at the Natick Mall, along with similar stores at the Atrium Mall and Mall at Chestnut Hill in Newton and combining them into somewhat of a maternity superstore in the former Hitchcock Fine Home Furnishings building near the corner of Oak St and Rte. 9 in Natick. The new store will provide all of ther services of the old stores, along with a "maternity spa". The MWDN's co-owned Milford Daily News Tribune actually wrote a story about this, it's online at http://www.dailynewstribune.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=49093.

MWDN Lowe's Story Online
Written by Justin on January 27, 2005 at 10:40PM

Apparently the MetroWest Daily News put a story online yesterday about the progress in the Lowe's that I did not link to the previous update. The story is located at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=88596. For what seems to be the first time, they're actually more optimistic than "yours truly" on an possible approval.

Updates for January 26, 2005
Written by Justin on January 26, 2005 at 3:19PM

New rendering of proposed Lowe's.

New rendering of proposed Lowe's (sorry about quality, it's a TV capture)

Updates on Lowe's and other news...

  • The Framingham Planning Board met last night to discuss the proposed 350 Cochituate Road Lowe's once again, and it seemed that progress was really happening. For what seems like the first time, there was surprising little controversy over the site plan. Lowe's got the right-of-way at last that was needed to construct a four-way stop on the North/South Connector (which connects Target with BJ's and Stop and Shop). If this was not gotten, Lowe's would be stuck with the current Verizon building entrance, combined with a wacky 180 degree turn. Luckily that will not be happening. The reflective mirrors wanted by Lowe's will not be happening either, instead it will be transparent glass, slightly tinted, along with nice window treatments, that will be looking into store managers offices and equipment rooms. The board did have some concerns with the tan color on the rendering, but the Lowe's team rebutted stating that the board really couldn't find a tan that they liked. The board finally decided to use the tan on the Framingham Police Headquarters to match to the building.
  • There were concerns from the Planning Board, however, of the rental trucks offered by Home Depot and Lowe's. Lowe's will have two rental trucks on site, however, due to the request of reduction in parking spaces, the spaces occupied by the trucks will not qualify toward the total amount. The board was also concerned that the trucks, if parked near the road, would qualify as advertising; but the Lowe's people disspelled that by saying that if the trucks were near the building, they would take up valuable parking spots, and if they are near the road, then they are hard to access. Therefore, there will be two denoted spaces located somewhere in the middle of the lot. Sue Bernstein of the board, an advocate of the LIFT bus service (see Beyond Retail), was also happy that there would be a bus shelter modeled after a new one in Downtown Framingham. Bernstein requested that the shelter by lighted, to which the Lowe's team agreed to.
  • Finally, mitigation was discussed. It's hard to see what projects will be most influential, but there will be many modifications to the surrounding areas ranging from tree plantings to traffic lights. This remains to be the last real part of the discussion that needs to take place before the project can be voted on and approved, seeing that most of the other concerns have by now been addressed.
Now, the other news...
  • The La-Z-Boy store on Route 9 should be opening soon. On a drive by yesterday, the store appeared to be complete, with the signage on the store and the sign on the plaza signpost now installed. The store is expected to open sometime next month.
  • The Decathlon USA store at Sherwood Plaza, with the adjoining Starbucks, is now entirely demolished, leading the way for the new Dick's Sporting Goods and Starbucks Coffee to open sometime this upcoming summer.
  • At the aformentioned Planning Board meeting, the Whole Foods Market at 575 Worcester Road at the corner of Pleasant St and Route 9 was discussed, as the store wants to add an outside terrace for their cafe. After another meeting, the project will likely be approved seeing as it's very minimal. The Board did not let the store's representative to forget about an accident a few years back where a woman was killed when she was struck by a car outside the store, so they want to be sure that the terrace will provide the utmost safety for customers.
  • Additionally, Kohl's at last got it's final occupancy permit, although the store actually opened in late 2002.
  • Finally, expect changes in the near future at the 235 Old Connecticut Path Stop and Shop. Plans were approved last night at the Planning Board meeting that will move the bakery to the right side of the store where the floral department is currently located. Then, the bottle return room, with it's exterior entrance, will be moved to the left side of the store where the bakery was. The project had to be brought to the board due solely to the exterior entrance of the deposit room. Is the change a waste of money? It's probably to bring the store into the present Stop and Shop prototype, as the store has seen little improvement since it opened in 1995 with the now easily-recognizable New England style that originated on Cape Cod in 1993.
And that's what's happening. One last thing, December news and prior is now in the news archive. If you have any memories, comments, or questions, send them to the feedback box!

Updates for January 14, 2005
Written by Justin on January 14, 2005 at 5:41PM

Some Natick Mall Expansion news...

  • Last night, the Natick Planning Board looked at the latest revisions to the Natick Mall Expansion. Now, the mall wants to construct 385,000 sq. ft of retail space, including the Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus for Phase I. In Phase II, the housing towers would be built, along with a connection to the existing mall. This would allow the mall to get around many of the restrictions posed against it by the appeals. However, the Planning Board was unsatisfied, seeing that shoppers would likely hit both malls at once, and the pathways from the original mall to the expansion, being outside, would not be safe from drivers at all. Additionally, Sue Bernstein from the Framingham Planning Board showed up to request that GGP present to the Framingham Planning Board as well, which they agreed to.

Updates for January 13, 2005
Written by Justin on January 13, 2005 at 11:49PM

Lowe's update, but first...

  • Probably the biggest local development story of the week is not retail, but it's somewhat related.The proposed new Christa McAuliffe branch library slated for Saxonville, Framingham was shot down by a special Town Meeting on January 12, with the town acquiring the proposed site, but a measure to construct a 6.7 million dollar library to replace the existing branch failed by three votes. More in Beyond Retail.
  • Now to Lowe's. It looks like the Framingham Planning Board has chosen a design for the new Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse. It will be "option 7", which appears to adopt beige and white colors, with a secondary emphasis on blue. Unfortunately there is no present drawing of this online, but I'm working on getting something added. It's a very nice design that will serve the store well, the only problem is the Planning Board's desire for real windows into the equipment rooms and office on the facade, even if they are covered with curtains. The MDWN reports it all at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=87422.
  • Finally, General Growth appears that it will be making a presentation to the Framingham Planning Board about the proposed Mall Expansion in Natick in a hope that a compromise will be made regarding traffic mitigation for Framingham. No word yet on when the hearing will be held.
Got any information or questions on local projects? Send it all to the feedback box!

Updates for January 10, 2005
Written by Justin on January 10, 2005 at 10:39PM

Some small local updates...

  • Over in Natick, local Rail Trail advocates received word from the Massachusetts Office of Environmental Affairs that construction on the Natick Mall Expansion cannot proceed without some negotiations between the Rail Trail folks and GGP. The Rail Trail people want a tunnel to be built under Route 9 to allow bikers and hikers to safely cross Route 9. Meanwhile, GGP is hoping for the cheap way out, with a good looking at-grade crossing. I tend to believe, however, if a tunnel is built, it will simply be vandalized, abandoned, and become a home for homeless. A useful and decent looking at-grade crossing, with a stop light activated by pushing a button, is probably a better option, not to mention less costly. The story's online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=87268.
  • According to an advertisement in the MWDN, La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries is hiring and is planning on opening it's new Natick store sometime in November.
  • The ancient policies of Shoppers World are coming into play once again. Back in 2003, Joe's American Bar & Grill's plan to change the ugly green awnings to a red, white and blue decor, only to be shot down by the Framingham Planning Board. Recently, Office Depot's team that went to get permission for two new exterior signs was also shot down, but this time because there were SIGNS IN THE STORE'S WINDOWS ADVERTISING A SALE! Apparently, DDRC is very slow at alerting tenants of the local customs. Honestly, does this board have anything better to do? The story's online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=87141.
  • The Framingham Planning Board is set to deliberate the Lowe's project tomorrow at 9:15PM, with an executive session following at 10:15PM. Natick's Planning Board is meeting on Wednesday at 7PM, unfortunately Natick's town website does not usually post agendas.
I'm hoping to update again tomorrow with whatever happens in the Lowe's meeting, along with a new Beyond Retail about the proposed new Christa McAuliffe Library. Stay tuned, and send in your comments and the like to the feedback form. Thanks!

Updates for January 3, 2005
Written by Justin on January 3, 2005 at 5:07PM

Update on Bob's Discount Furniture...

  • After an e-mail correspondence with Bob's Discount Furniture, I learned that the store will be located at 1450 Worcester Road in Natick, the home of the former Circuit City. No word on any possible facade changes, although something will definately need to be done unless they want it to look like a reused Circuit City, due to the large "circuit" in which the entrance is housed. Bob likes to open his furniture stores on national holidays, so perhaps we'll see a President's Day opening. More information will probably be available at the company website, http://www.mybobs.com. I'll try to get a webpage up about this building and the abutting Venture West Plaza soon.
Questions or Comments? E-mail me using the feedback link!

Introducing Beyond Retail
Written by Justin on January 2, 2005 at 10:15PM

With the new year, there are going to be some changes to Framingham/Natick Retail. Many of the pages are being redone, and content is quickly being added. But the crown jewel of the new year is certainly Beyond Retail. On this blog, I'll be giving my opinions about the state of retail and government, and how they each depend upon one another. Questions like "Should Lowe's have to pay for LIFT bus service?" and "Is the 86 million dollar proposed override in Framingham worth it?". A place where I will be able to share my opinions on the state of everything in MetroWest, and you will be invited to share your opinion.

However, I will continue to keep the Framingham/Natick Retail site in the same shape, and there will continue to be regular updates on this page as well. If you're ready to take the plunge into Beyond Retail, click here.

Updates for January 2, 2005
Written by Justin on January 2, 2005 at 1:00AM

Happy New Year! and retail news as well...

  • MetroWest will be getting a new furniture retailer. According to a story in the The Day, a New London, CT, newspaper, Manchester, CT-based Bob's Discount Furniture will be building a new warehouse in Norwich, CT. However, the article also notes that a store is "under  construction". This is the first mention of the store anywhere, so where will it be located? The first place that comes to mind is the former Circuit City on Rte. 9 in Natick. However, perhaps it will be in part of the Ben and Jerry's complex, or even the former Hitchcock Fine Furnishings on the Wellesley line. I don't believe they are going to the Planning Board anytime soon. The story is online at http://www.theday.com/eng/web/news/re.aspx?re=D873CF24-ECA6-4DEE-A02C-91CB7037558B.
  • Check out the Framingham/Natick Retail Year in Review 2004, now online!
Send any updates to the feedback link, and hopefully more news soon!

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