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News Updates: April 2005

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

Natick Mall sewer proposal approved
Written by Justin on April 24, 2005 at 11:26PM

  • The Natick Mall topped the front of the MWDN today with the approval of it's application to change sewer systems. Since it's opening in 1994, everything from the water in your Orange Julius to washing your hands in the mall's restrooms have utilized Framingham's sewer and water systems, but that's about to change. The main reason that it's hooked up to Framingham is due to the fact that the Natick system cannot handle such a large amount of resources. With the expansion of the mall, it was made mandatory that the mall switch over to Natick as Framingham likely could not handle the expanded mall. So, the GGP is paying to upgrade the Speen Street sewer system in order to hook up their developments. Framingham is not upset about the changes, however; the Framingham DPW director sounded happy that the mall was hooking up to Natick as the mall's system is more work than is the minimal profits it brings in. The mall should be switched over by the end of 2005, with the expansion joining in 2007. The MWDN's story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=96834.

Could a Marshall Field's be in the Natick Mall's future?
Written by Justin on April 17, 2005 at 1:31AM

  • I recently heard from a May employee that their Filene's store, in a high density mall that already has a Macy's and a Filene's Men's and Home Store, is rumored to be replaced by possibly a Bloomingdales or by a Marshall Field's. No one knows for sure, but the fact that Marshall Field's is in there was a surprise to me, and a good one at that. To those who don't know, Marshall Field's is May's store in the midwestern states, acquired from Target Corp. last year. It's a retailer with a huge legacy (actually 3, Target merged Dayton's, Hudson's and Marshall Field's into just Marshall Fields in 2001). Although it's suburban stores are equivalent to a Filene's with Frango mints, it's downtown stores are amazing. There's just no way to describe Marshall Field's State Street store in downtown Chicago.
  • There seems to be growing speculation, though, that the combined May/Federated will turn Marshall Field's into an upscale, nationwide chain amongst the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Additionally, suspicion is also growing that Federated will kill the ailing Lord & Taylor department store chain, a division that is set to bring down the new company. Also, it's pretty much a given that one store will close at the Natick Mall. Could Macy's stay as it is, Filene's become a Marshall Field's, and Lord & Taylor become, perhaps, a Saks Fifth Avenue? The Chicago Sun-Times tells more about Marshall Field's role in the new company at http://www.suntimes.com/output/business/cst-fin-fields18.html.

Other developments going on in MetroWest
Written by Justin on April 17, 2005 at 12:42AM

  • Absolutely nothing is going on in the Golden Triangle at the moment, so I thought that I could take a post to mention other ongoing projects in MetroWest. One of these is over at one of the "points" of the Golden Triangle; the former Mr. Billiards building. The owner of Mr. Billiards decided to retire once the owner of the building announced a big increase in the rent. There's a lot of construction equipment over there at the moment, converting the building into a Shields MRI center. The new facility is slated to open later this Spring.
  • Continuing west, the Herb Connolly dealerships are switching around some of their franchises. The building on Route 9 that currently houses Hyundai, Acura and Chevrolet has lost the Hyundai unit of business, which has moved to the former Natick Ford dealership on Rte.. 135 in Natick. Herb Connolly currently houses Mitsubishi there, and with Hyundai there, the dealerships become much more spaced out. One would wonder if a facelift at the Rte. 9 facility is on the way: It definately needs it.
  • Further west on Rte. 9, nothing is yet happening at the former Athenian Restaurant that is slated to become a Dunkin Donuts. Additionally, Marconi's on 9, in the building that has formerly housed Not Your Average Joe's, the Cosmopolitan Grill, and ton of other restaurants, has closed as well. Over at the Framingham Industrial Park, Genzyme seems to be in just about every building on New York Avenue. Perhaps they might take off the former Frugal Fannie's signage soon?
  • Heading west on Rte. 9 into Natick, a Hertz Car Rental is proposed at one of the former gas stations near the Oak St. jughandle, and it has met with a lot of neighborhood opposition. Enterprise certainly has the dominance around here for car rentals (for when cars need body work, etc.), and Hertz has no presence other than a small Local Edition near the Trader Joe's in Framingham. Other than that, nothing big seems to be happening else where in Natick.
  • And that's it. As always, if you've got any comments on the site, whether problems with the layout or whether you have memories of the past, drop me a line with the feedback link on the side of the page. Anyone using the RSS feed?

Natick Mall Expansion in the clear, construction to start soon
Written by Justin on April 8, 2005 at 8:09PM

  • As no one appealed the latest incarnation of the Natick Mall Expansion before the Tuesday deadline, General Growth Properties is now clear to begin construction on the 395,000 sq. ft. Natick Mall expansion with restaurants, retail, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. The expansion will be connected to the existing mall through a walkway to Macy's and Parking Garage B, and the expansion will also have it's own parking areas, Parking Deck D, located in front of Nordstrom, and underground Parking Deck E, located nearest to Macy's. GGP has not yet chosen a construction company for the new addition, but they are planning to get construction underway by July in order to proceed with a grand opening set for Fall 2007, before the holiday season rush. No word on how construction in July would affect the July 4th fireworks that GGP promised for another year, however. What is probably the last big construction project in area development is about to get started. The corresponding MWDN story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=95208.

Bob's Discount Furniture/The Container Store grand openings
Written by Justin on April 8, 2005 at 8:05PM

  • If you've seen any Bob's Discount Furniture ads today, they are all claiming the grand opening of the new Bob's store in the former Circuit City, which opened yesterday, April 7th. I haven't seen the building within the last week, but they must have certainly finished painting the building. It doesn't look that great, but I hear that the prices inside the store make up for the poor exteriors.
  • And another grand opening will occur this weekend. The Container Store, which has been under construction for quite some time in the former The Disney Store/Just For Feet next to the Natick Mall, will be opening tomorrow, April 9th. The company has been advertising the new location, and I'd expect it to be very busy for the grand opening weekend. To me, though, it appears to be IKEA-style storage components at extravagant prices. We'll see how it does.

Framingham settles Natick Mall appeal for $1.04 million
Written by Justin on April 2, 2005 at 8:23PM

  • General Growth Properties has settled with the Town of Framingham's appeal of the project for $1,040,000 dollars. $300,000 of the money is slated for signals and traffic concerns, along with $100,000 for LIFT bus service, $200,000 for Rail Trail construction, and $300,000 to purchase open space. The mall's lawyer states that the mall is satisfied with the payment, as they has originally viewed Natick as the place all improvements would have to be made (yet forgetting that Framingham nearly borders the property). If nobody appeals the mall before Tuesday, April 5th at 5:00PM EST, then the mall will be essentially approved for Phase I. Even if the mall does get appealed, the Natick Town Meeting is looking at an article that would allow the mall to be constructed while legalities are negotiated; Town Meeting occurs later this month. The MWDN reports at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=94708.

IKEA and 23-story apartment building proposed for Wonder Bread site
Written by Justin on April 1, 2005 at 8:38PM

  • The MWDN reported today that the Natick Mall owners are giving up on their hopes for a mall expansion, and have submitted plans for a 360,000 sq. ft. store. Slated to be one of IKEA's largest, it will be attached to a 23-story apartment complex, topped by an observation deck looking down on the Golden Triangle, along with a rotating Papa Gino's on the top. A spokesperson for General Growth stated, "The other anchors, and the Town of Natick just are holding up the luxury expansion. We think that the IKEA will be better looking anyway". The IKEA will be designed as a giant blue box as all other IKEA stores, but will also impliment colonial-style features to mix in with the very New England-like centers nearby. IKEA won out the lease for the site over Wal-Mart Supercenter, Bass Pro Shops, The Great Indoors, and a PETsMART distribution center. The project is expected to be introduced and approved at the next meeting of the Natick Planning Board, and will likely open by Fall 2006, with the apartments slated for completion in 2012. The story's online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=8675309
  • And of course, happy April Fools Day from Framingham/Natick Retail!

Natick Mall Expansion approved, appeals process nearing end
Written by Justin on April 1, 2005 at 8:38PM

Bob's Discount Furniture to open soon
Written by Justin on April 1, 2005 at 7:33PM

  • The official website for Bob's Discount Furniture, mybobs.com, is reporting that the new Natick store will be opening on April 7th. Most recently, I've seen that although the building is still in the shape of Circuit City, at least it has been painted white. The new store will, like all Bob's stores, have an in-store cafe offering complimentary refreshments. Bob has also been promoting the new store on advertisements shown on Boston-area TV stations.
And that's it! As always, be sure to send me your comments, corrections and memories through the feedback box. Thanks!

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