almost as a conclusion to the cliffhangers of 2004. The Natick Mall and
Lowe's were both approved, and construction has begun on both. Yet
questions still remain: what tenants will fill the Natick Mall
Expansion... and for that matter, what will the mall be called? How
will property owners around the country deal with the demise of May,
and will vendor relationships be damaged in the process? In the
Midwest, will the only May store with a fighting chance, Marshall
Field's, get May to reverse their decision in one case? Perhaps we'll
find out in 2006, but now, here's the Year in Review for 2005:
JANUARY: GGP announces that the
Natick Mall will split into two phases, intending to get around the
project's growing appeals. Motherhood Maternity and Mimi Maternity at
the Natick Mall close and reopen as a Destination Maternity superstore
further down on Rt. 9 in Natick.
FEBRUARY: Renovations begin at the
Old Connecticut Path Stop & Shop. La-Z-Boy opens at Natick
Promenade. Lowe's gains full approval from the Framingham Planning
Board to construct a store adjacent to Target. May Department Stores
appeals the Natick Mall expansion project on February 26, two days
before Federated Department Stores announcese that they will acquire
May for $11 billion dollars.
MARCH: Vacancies grow in the Natick
Mall as many 10-year leases come to a close. Phase I of the Natick Mall
Expansion is approved.
APRIL: Bob's Discount Furniture
opens in the old Circuit City building. Framingham settles its appeal
of the Natick Mall for $1.04 million dollars.
MAY: General Growth provides more
details on the Natick Mall's condos.
JUNE: The office building at 350
Cochituate Road begins to come down, after construction loses one month
as a result of the NSTAR strike. Natick community development director
Sarkis Sarkisian resigns. Neiman Marcus reveals the exterior of their
future store. GGP announces that mall expansion will open on September
JULY: Federated announces store
branding strategy: all May department stores will convert to the Macy's
brand; while an announcement is made at a later date regarding which
Downtown Crossing store will close, what will be done with Lord &
Taylor, and whether Chicago-based Marshall Fields will rebrand.
Locally, the Macy's store at the Natick Mall will close, while the
Filene's store at the mall becomes a Macy's.
AUGUST: Saks Incorporated-owned Club
Libby Lu announces that the store will open at the Natick Mall in March
SEPTEMBER: Federated drops its
appeal of the Natick Mall Expansion, while GGP breaks ground on the
mall on September 4th. Federated chooses to close the Downtown Crossing
Filene's, and also plans to cut the 1,100 jobs at the
Filene's-Kaufmann's headquarters. At the Chestnut Hill mall, Filene's
will close and will be remodeled into a Bloomingdales, as the
Bloomingdales at the other end of the mall is closed. Lastly, Federated
announces that the Marshall Fields chain out of Chicago will be cut,
although most research advises them to do otherwise.
OCTOBER: Dick's Sporting Goods
opens. White House/Black Market opens at the Natick Mall, along with
"The Maxx", a concept from TJX.
NOVEMBER: Phase II of the Natick
Mall Expansion is approved. Changes are made to the Natick Mall
Expansion's floorplans, under the consideration that Macy's will be
DECEMBER: Lowe's construction
continues; construction on the ramp to the second floor can be seen,
along with a nearly completed steel frame of the building. Natick
ponders how to use their millions from mall construction.
certainly an interesting year for MetroWest retail with plenty of
changes. We'll have to see how 2006 plays out to change the skylines
(and street level views) of Framingham and Natick.