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News Updates: February 2005

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

Federated to acquire May for $11 billion
Written by Justin on February 28, 2005 at 5:36PM

  • Federated Department Stores, owner of Macy's, will be acquiring May Department Stores, owner of Filene's, Lord & Taylor, and for that matter David's Bridal, in a long anticipated deal worth $11 billion. Here's the scoop at the moment:
    • Federated is promising no division changes and store closures before 2006.
    • There are 94 malls nationally where the two both operate stores, including the Natick Mall.
    • Lord & Taylor, along with Chicago-based Marshall Field's, both May stores, are expected to be untouched by the merger.
    • Federated is considering converting some of competing stores into Macy's Home & Furniture stores, if this happens it could spell the end of the Macy's Furniture Gallery over at Shopper's World.
    • No word yet on whether Boston-based Filene's/Kaufmann's, the May division that operates Filene's and Pittsburgh, PA-area Kaufmann's, will live or will be relocated to Federated headquarters in Cincinnati (Gillette deja-vu?).
  • Framingham/Natick Retail will continue to search out the latest news on what the merger means for the Natick Mall, and to that extent, the Natick Mall expansion. If Nordstrom can't get in before 2007, will they go to another mall with a soon to be vacated Filene's?

May appeals Natick Mall Expansion, but will it matter?
Written by Justin on February 26, 2005 at 11:42PM

  • It's official: May Department Stores, the owner of both Filene's and Lord and Taylor, has appealed the Natick Mall Expansion. The company cited the same problems at Macy's: parking, pedestrian safety, ad and traffic. However, May's situation is rather different, as they own the Filene's building at the mall, and lease the Lord and Taylor building. As they own part of the mall, their rights are somewhat different, remarked a May attorney. This puts 3 of the mall's 4 anchors against the project, and although Sears clearly has no competition in the expansion, could they appeal soon as well?.The MWDN story is online http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=91596.
  • However, it appears that Federated could soon be acquiring May, as it has appeared for the past month. However, this weekend both parties are said to be deliberating a final purchase price that could finalize the expected merger. But where does this leave the mall? If the companies merge, Filene's is expected to take on the Macy's name, but seeing that Macy's is already at the mall, where does this leave Filene's and Lord and Taylor. It's possible that Macy's could move to the less attractive Filene's building as it is owned vs. leased; and Lord and Taylor may become Bloomingdales, although that chain might be left alone through the merger. Could the mall be left with two vacant anchors, both that could possibly hold Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom? In a somewhat related story, the Chicago Sun-Times is speculating that Marshall Field's, May's popular midwestern department store, could be transformed into an ultra-luxury department store that could compete with Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. Could this possible chain move into the Natick Mall should Filene's or Lord and Taylor close? The Sun-Times story is online at http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/cst-fin-fields26.html, and the Boston Globe has a story regarding the merger itself at http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/02/25/report_may_federated_talks_reach_critical_point/.

Framingham Lowe's Approved! / GGP visits Framingham Planning Board
Written by Justin on February 24, 2005 at 7:38PM

  • The proposed Framingham Lowe's store was approved at the Planning Board meeting of February 22, although the final permits were granted at 12:04AM on February 23, 2005. Other than some grammatical changes to the 11-page site plan for approval, and a debate from Carol Spack about whether the town's legal consultant should look at the agreement between Target and Lowe's regarding usage of the truck usage of the road behind Target. Other members, however, did not see this as necessary, as access of the road is a condition for the occupancy permit. Demolition of the Verizon building should begin soon, with an opening in 11 months. The MWDN reports on the store in two different articles, http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=91421 and a better story at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=91475.
  • Additionally, GGP/Natick Mall representatives visited the Framingham Planning Board to share the latest mall plans, and the board seemed overall satisfied. However, they did voice concerns on more pedestrian friendly features that were in the first version of the mall. However, little was spoken about the Planning Board's appeal of the mall project. The story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=91421.
Nordstrom and Neiman's to Depart?
Written by Justin on February 24, 2005 at 7:28PM
  • In a new MWDN article about last night's Natick Planning Board meeting, a mall representative stated that if the project did was not approved within the next 45 days, the project would not be opening in 2007. Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus were expecting the mall to open in 2007, and if the project is not on track for opening in 2007, the two stores are free to boot the project and go to another retail project that will be done quicker. But it's not looking good for the plans either, one person stated while the appealed plan was of A quality, the current plan is more of a B- or C+. If these two stores don't move in, then what will it be? Saks Fifth Avenue and a J.C. Penney? We'll see. The story, as usual, is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=91523.

Framingham Planning Board: Lowe's and Natick Mall Tomorrow
Written by Justin on February 21, 2005 at 1:30PM

  • The expected approval for the Framingham Lowe's store will be tomorrow night at 10:00PM on Goverment Access Television in Framingham (Channel 10 on Comcast, Channel 13 on RCN, and online at framinghamma.gov. Additionally, the Natick Mall will be making a special appearance to the Planning Board at 8:15PM. Could the Framingham Planning Board drop it's appeal of the project with the promised traffic improvements? We will see.
  • Oh yeah, and the La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery officially opened at Natick Promenade on February 18, completing Phase I of that project.

Lowe's of Framingham: How Much Longer?
Written by Justin on February 17, 2005 at 5:13PM

  • The Framingham Lowe's is really getting close to the approval, and although voting was mentioned several times during the meeting, so many changes were made during the Tuesday night hearing that the board decided to wait on voting before the hearing adjourned at 12:15AM. Almost all of the issues of the store were disputed, but it seems that it should be coming the fruition next Tuesday, and there seems to be no reason that it would not be.
  • Several items on the itinerary were disputed, one of them being whether pole-arms or mast-arms should be used for the Rte. 30/Beacon St. intersection near KFC. Style and cost of the fixture were disputed. Larry LaPere was disappointed that the store's landscaping would have to be in place before the store could be stocked, with the quote "We have to be done 60 days before we're done", but to no avail. Finally, some members were unclear about the legalities of the North/South Connector Rd and Lowe's usage of the access road behind Target, and wanted the town's lawyer to look at the agreement.  It is not clear whether this will be happening or not. Anyhow, two stories are online: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=90923 and the slightly earlier (by a day) story at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=90829.
  • Oh yeah, and a jeers to Government Access Television for showing the uberboring Comcast Cable Hearing for a few hours, joining the far more important Lowe's meeting in progress around 10:00PM.

Natick Mall asks for special warrant
Written by Justin on February 17, 2005 at 4:53PM

  • The Natick Mall is requesting a special warrant that would allow construction to proceed at an under-construction Natick Mall Expansion while legal battles are undergone. This would allow the mall to get opened earlier as there would be a good two years before occupancy permits are issued; time that would be used to negotiate mitigation and the like. The permit would be used only if the mall is not approved before April 12, the start of Natick's annual Town Meeting. The corresponding MetroWest Daily News story can be seen online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=90892

Natick Mall to house one more July 4th fireworks ceremony
Written by Justin on February 17, 2005 at 4:48PM

  • According to a recent MWDN story, the Natick Mall will be to home to one more fireworks ceremony, as nothing is really happening at the moment with the Wonder Bread site. But seeing that the fireworks are in early July, does that mean that essentially nothing will be happening at the site even in July? Nevertheless, the mall will be putting $20,000 toward the fireworks. The story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=90720

Natick Mall Expansion considers overhead bridge
Written by Justin on February 10, 2005 at 7:15PM

  • News at the Natick Mall expansion: the mall has officially decided that they want to construct an enclosed pedestrian bridge across Flutie Pass after many were concerned about cars needing to drive from one mall to the other, and also pedestrian safety. The walkway would go straight out of the new mall and end at a spot in between Macy's and Parking Garage B, and likely connecting to both of there. This all ties into the mall's case with Macy's as well: with a direct connection to the store, it would seem that Macy's can't really complain about safety, can they? Additionally, the article states that Nolan Brothers, who owns the adjacent self-storage facility, has dropped it's appeal of the project, and that the Framingham Planning Board will be dropping it's appeal once General Growth finalizes an agreement for road improvements for Framingham, and will also be visiting the Planning Board later this month to discuss the newest plans for the mall. With all other appeals satisfied, it would seem that the project is ready to get under construction soon! The corresponding MWDN story is onlines at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=90262, and in today's newspaper there were also floorplans of the project, which will soon be added to the site.

Old Connecticut Path Stop & Shop under renovations
Written by Justin on February 10, 2005 at 6:24PM

  • The Framingham Super Stop & Shop on Old Connecticut Path is currently undergoing renovations. According to a project representative at the Planning Board meeting on January 26, the store will be getting significant changes, including the move of the bottle return room from the right side of the store to the left side of the store. This move enables the store to move it's bakery to the other side of the store where the floral department is now. Temporarily, the bottle machines are housed on the side of the Citizens Bank (in the store). The renovation also includes moving some aisles around, and evident today, the soda aisle has been relocated and now soda and chips can be found in adjacent aisles. In the back of the store, the butcher shop area appears to be under renovation as a large part of it is boarded off. Also, at the front of the store, the large displays have been moved away from the right entrance area, the wall appears to be in the process of being painted over, as you can no longer see the funky 70's-style "Welcome to Stop & Shop". The store has only been under construction for a week or two, so I'll keep you posted.
  • Additionally, I believe the Citizens Bank at the plaza closes on February 15, however, the in-store location will remain open.

Framingham Lowe's Nears Approval/Area Retail Changes
Written by Justin on February 9, 2005 at 5:56PM

  • The Framingham Lowe's is moving closer to construction, and an approval is expected next week. At last night's meeting of the Framingham Planning Board, most discussion focused upon a list of items and finalizing many of them. In a story today in the MWDN, it is reported that a vote on the project is expected to occur after next meeting.
  • Some of the concerns of Planning Board members included Lowe's delivery times. The Planning Board wanted to instate a maximum of trucks to enter the property during peak hours due to expected backups on Rte. 30. Lowe's, however, did not want to be bound to these restrictions. Lowe's site development manager Larry LaPere stated that he was only fine with a restriction if the other Golden Triangle stores were bound to it as well, attorney Paul Galvini tried to back him up by turning down all remarks about traffic jams at the corner of Whitter St. and Rte. 30. Nevertheless, it appears that the project is really starting to come together.
  • There were also still a few concerns on the site plan itself. Andrea Carr-Evans was concerned that were Target to close, would Lowe's trucks still be allowed to use the road behind the store? The answer to that question was given, but as she wanted proof, a statement from Target's lawyers in Minneapolis, as the Framingham Mall property is owned and operated by Target (on the deed it is actually Dayton-Hudson Corporation). Finally, one of the members heartfully requested that the Lowe's team take some pictures of the interior and exterior of the Verizon building before it is officially demolished, to which Lowe's easily agreed. There was lots of other stuff too, but it's probably not worth mentioning. The MWDN story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=90187.
  • Looking at Route 9 lately, the Decathlon store in Natick is now entirely demolished, the project really coming along quickly. Across the street, the future Container Store is clearly under construction, according to their website it opens April 9, 2005, but they still have a lot of work to get done seeing that the building is currently in shambles; it should look much better after renovations, though. At 1398 Worcester Rd, construction is complete on the La-Z-Boy Furniture Gallery store, but I'm not sure whether it is open or not. Finally, the future Bob's Discount Furniture is hiring according to mybobs.com, their website, but it doesn't appear that they are doing any significant renovations. They must want to keep the overhead low, but even so, from the street it still looks like an abandoned Circuit City.

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