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News Updates: June 2005

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

Loads of info on the new Natick Mall
Written by Justin on June 20, 2005 at 12:05AM

  • The MWDN had an article today regarding the changing face of retail in the Golden Triangle. Nothing particular, but the story as a whole is a good read. It's online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=101792.
  • A Boston Globe article revealed more details about the new Neiman Marcus store. Supposedly the vice president of development for GGP, Jim Grant, who I believe is based in Chicago, had hinted to the Natick Planning Board that the Neiman Marcus store was going to look stunning, and specifically that Neiman Marcus puts detail into making each of it's stores look different. The Cliff's Notes (or should I say Sparknotes) of the project are as follows: The building's silver exterior is inspired by the folds of a dress, as Neiman Marcus' sales are 80% to women. Construction is now slated to begin on the entire project in August, possibly delayed due to the promised July 4th fireworks. And the mall's penthouses are going to be 14-stories tall. The entire story, and many details, are online at http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2005/06/18/upscale_ribbon_unfurls_for_natick_mall/.
  • And we actually have a date for the mall's opening! The 100,000 sq. ft. Neiman Marcus, along with presumably the rest of the mall, will open on September 7, 2007.

Can General Growth Manage Luxury Malls?
Written by Justin on June 18, 2005 at 7:13PM

  • That's the title of a new article comparing the Natick Mall Expansion to other General Growth "luxury-malls" located outside of Washington, D.C. and Chicago, IL. Check it out here.

MetroWest speaks out on new Neiman Marcus
Written by Justin on June 17, 2005 at 11:10PM

Neiman Marcus plans unveiled
Written by Justin on June 16, 2005 at 5:12PM

  • For once, the Natick Planning Board is actually unanimous on the plans for the new Neiman Marcus store. The board was wowed when the exterior concept for the store, and there was a nice color picture in today's MWDN. I'll get the photo up when my scanner gets set back up, but it appears very futuristic yet refined. It is essentially a tanish color with metallic panels covering it. The building will also illuminate at night, providing for a very cool-looking edifice on Speen St.
  • Interestingly, one board member mentioned how the project will become a precedent for future projects in Natick. Let's compare this to how Framingham's precedent of choice for future construction is the generic Stop & Shop on Old Connecticut Path. The new 100,000 sq. ft Neiman Marcus is being designed rather locally, by Elkis/Manfredi, a firm in Boston. The MWDN reports on the new Neiman Marcus plans, along with some related Natick Mall condo news, at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=101531.

3rd time's not a charm for McAuliffe branch
Written by Justin on June 16, 2005 at 10:46PM

  • The ongoing Framingham Town Meeting gave a third chance to the proposed Christa McAuliffe library. Despite support from state representative Debbie Blumer and Grace Corrigan, mother of Christa McAuliffe, the library is now pretty much in the can. The voting was 83-51, with 90 needed to pass. Despite cutting the size of the library, the library management was criticized as they were asked to cut the size of the project prior, but had not due to the belief that they would lose the state grant. At this last meeting, it was revealed that the library had never asked the state.
  • Although the library is not a retail issue, it is one that I've covered here on F/NR. I have some controversial views on the project, and if you're interested in seeing them, check out my recent post at the Beyond Retail blog. Additionally, the MWDN covered the story at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=101520.

MWDN article on Natick Mall condos
Written by Justin on June 12, 2005 at 4:47PM

  • Today's MetroWest Daily News featured an article on people who have already lined up for the condos slated to be built in the Natick Mall Expansion. The article also included commentary on the project from numerous perspectives. The first person to be on the waiting list, an Elisabeth DePristo, who recently relocated from California and considers herself a "a MetroWest shopper", a young couple who operate the Edible Arrangements in Sherwood Plaza, and an elderly couple who have no need for a large house. The article proves that not all residents want to relocate to the mall to shop; but that it is rather a housing complex close by to stores, restaurants and jobs.
  • It's interesting that 150 people have already signed up to live in the mall, despite the fact that the condos have not even been approved by the Natick Planning Board and that the mall has not even begun construction. Nevertheless, it appears that all of the future mall residents are excited that they will be some of the first to reside inside a shopping center. The MWDN story is online; the address is http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=101113.
  • And on the site, new photos abound; shots of the Dick's Sporting Goods' construction and the former Wonder Bread site.

Natick Mall update/Sarkis Sarkisian resigns!
Written by Justin on June 11, 2005 at 10:56PM

  • A recent MWDN noted the proposed rail trail improvement to be made by the Natick Mall. While the mall's engineers state that a lengthy tunnel under Speen St. would cost $4.4 million, and a shorter tunnel would cost $2.5 million, the chief rail-trail representative believes that a stream-cover style tunnel would cost a mere $100,000. It is likely that the mall is not favoring this idea as it would look very tacky and unappealing next to a multi-million dollar shopping and residential complex. Additionally, two styles of bridges would cost $2.3 million and $1.3 million, respectively. Yet, later on in the article, it is cited that an at-grade crossing would cost $180,000, almost double that of the cheap-and-ugly tunnel, so it is likely that the mall's pricing is at least a bit inflated. The story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=100947.
  • And, after 17 years of service to the town of Natick, Community Development director Sarkis Sarkisian announced his resignation, which became effective on June 3. The announcement, which came rather abruptly, was made as Sarkisian moves into a new job in the private sector. Though F/NR has never particularly agreed with his statements, we wish him the best in his new position. The MWDN reports on the announcement at http://metrowestdailynews.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=100245.

Lowe's construction delays revealed
Written by Justin on June 8, 2005 at 10:45PM

  • In the MetroWest Daily News yesterday, it was announced that the delays in the Lowe's construction were due to the NSTAR union strike. As it turns out, Lowe's was unable to request a demolition permit until the building had it's utilities shut off. While the building's gas line was shut off before the NSTAR strike, the building remained electrified until two days ago. A representative for Samuels & Associates, the owner of the 350 Cochituate Rd. parcel, appeared optimistic and noted that the building was ready to be demolished, pending some interior demolition. The story is online at http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=100728.
  • And as a side note on the Natick Mall, the large green fence has been put back up.
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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