yet another interesting year of MetroWest retail. Construction of the
mall's expansion quickly took shape, with the residential towers close
to reaching their full heights by the end of the year, and the
long-awaited Lowe's store opening at the year's close. But all was not
good: the year took Filene's and numerous other May-owned brand names
with it, in addition to several other retail casualities in the Golden
JANUARY: Parking Garage B is razed to
allow for the expansion to connect to the existing mall; construction
of replacement Parking Deck F is announced. Filene's begins liquidation
on January 29.
FEBRUARY: The existing Natick Mall is
evacuated on February 18th as a construction crew mistakenly hits a gas
line. Nordstrom announces that it will open stores in the coming years
at the Burlington Mall, South Shore Plaza, and the Northshore Mall,
though the Natick location will continue to be the first in the state.
The former Exxon gas station on Cochituate Road is re-opened as a Gulf.
MARCH: The proposed condominum towers
at the Natick Mall are approved, while renovations to the existing mall
begin. The mall's general manager, David Falkner, is sent to Pinnacle
Hills Promenade in Arkansas, and is replaced by Frank Lazorchak.
PetSmart announces that it will open at Shopper's World in the former
OfficeMax. The Natick Mall's Lord & Taylor survives another round
of store closings. Filene's closes at the end of the month.
APRIL: Radio Shack announces that
locations throughout MetroWest will close; the Natick Mall store
survives the closings. Independent Mobile opens at Shopper's World
replacing Cambridge SoundWorks, while Paiva opens at the Natick Mall.
Framingham/Natick Retail gets a plug in the MWDN's "Surf's Up" column.
Macy's existing location closes on April 30.
MAY: Sam's Club abruptly closes on
May 1 with no warning to the store's 96 employees. Macy's reopens in
the Filene's building on May 2, while rumors begin to take shape that
J.C. Penney will open in the former Macy's building. Fresh City opens
in the former space of Woodworker's Warehouse on Route 9. General
Growth hands over the pad of the Nordstrom store to Nordstrom's
contractor, IBEX Construction.
JUNE: Rumors have The Cheesecake
Factory heading to the Natick Mall. With parking becoming a mess at the
mall, General Growth begins proposing plans for how to best deal with
the limited parking during the holiday season six months away. After a
three month delay, Club Libby Lu finally opens at the Natick Mall.
Heated conversation between Framingham and GGP over the construction of
a sewage pipe result in an out-of-court settlement. Recreation World at
Sherwood Plaza becomes Brunswick Home & Billiard, Elan Salon moves
into the Cloverleaf Mall, and Long's Jewelers moves into the Natick
JULY: Gourmet India opens in the
Natick Mall food court. The Natick Mall announces that it will drop the
"mall" word from it's name as it rebrands to "Natick"; residential
components of the project become known as "Nouvelle at Natick". Eastern
Arts opens at the Natick Mall; after two weeks of business, police and
mall management shutter the store for selling illegal weapons. Thefts
at the Sunglass Hut stores at the mall total $8,000.
AUGUST: J.C. Penney nears a lease
signing with the mall for the former Macy's space. Two temporary
Halloween retailers open: "Boston Costume" in the Oriental Warehouse
building near the 9/27 Plaza and "Halloween Outlet" in the former
Border's building. The party ends at Sherwood Plaza East as Party City
closes; meanswhile, renovation to the Minado, Brunswick, and Town Fair
Tire facades begins.
SEPTEMBER: LIFT 9 busses begin service
along the Route 9 corridor. Lowe's tries to get a temporary occupancy
permit for its Cochituate Rd. store, but shoddy construction leads the
planning board to hold off on approval. Federated pulls the plug on
Filene's; in Chicago, massive protests mark the re-branding of Marshall
Field's to Macy's.
OCTOBER: The Natick Mall holds a
"topping-off" ceremony for the retail components of the project. The
MWDN reports that Legal's Test Kitchen will be one of the tenants in
the mall expansion. Federated CEO Terry Lundgren announces that the
former Bloomingdale's women's store in Chestnut Hill will become a
Macy's, while the Natick Macy's will receive renovations. Lowe's
recieves its temporary occupancy permit on October 13th as expected.
Rochester Big & Tall announces that it will open in the second
floor retail area of 1400 Worcester Street.
NOVEMBER: Rumors arise that both
Burberry and P.F. Chang's China Bistro will be part of the expansion.
Massive rains spark an electrical incident which causes $40,000 of
damage in the expansion's under-construction parking garage. The new
women's Bloomingdale's store opens at The Mall at Chestnut Hill. The
Natick Mall releases plans for holiday season parking: a new exit from
Parking Garage C and employee parking in Parking Deck F are hoped to
fix the issue of traffic for the next month. Framingham threatens to
hold off Lowe's occupancy permit once again. Framingham/Natick Retail
is there as the Natick Mall holds a grand-reopening ceremony to mark
the completion of interior renovations; during the event, models name
Louis Vuitton, BCBG, Stil, a relocated Coach store, Lacoste, Oakley,
The North Face, J. Crew, Zara, Johnston & Murphy, Martin + Osa,
Teavana, Metropolitan Bar & Grill, Sel de la Terre, and Finale
Dessert as tenants. The ceremony also marks the official dropping of
the word "Mall".
DECEMBER: After many months of
having only one way around the mall, Natick Mall Road quietly reopens
in a one-way direction going underneath the expansion and past the
future J.C. Penney. Lowe's holds a soft opening nearly a year behind
schedule on December 11. Mall officials propose one final addition to
the project: a 65,000 sq. ft. "streetscape" expansion at the front of
the mall that would include Crate & Barrel and The Cheesecake
Factory. Natick's website is relaunched at natickmall.com.
anything, the theme for 2006 was easily one thing: new and old.
in the triangle, there was a lot of new. The largest retail project in
Framingham, Lowe's, finally opened its doors after nearly two years of
planning. The mall expansion, which was a concrete-supported pit at the
beginning of the year, has evolved into an enormous two-level corridor
with a Nordstrom that looks as if it could open and a Neiman Marcus
that's quickly mirroring the renderings; together with two massive
residential towers that are becoming the pinnicle of the area's
skyline, this was the project of the year, and will certainly be the
project to watch in 2007. At the end of 2005, it was hard to visualize
what the largest construction project in New England would bring to
MetroWest: today, with leases signed with elite international retailers
and eateries, and construction that is quickly reaching its peak, the
grand opening set for nine months from now has become just that much
easier to visualize.
year came with loss as well. The area's biggest retail icon, Filene's,
disappeared as the merger between Federated and May, which closed last
year, finally became visible to the common person, taking with it over
300 jobs at Natick alone. The interior of the Natick Mall, with high
ceilings, tile floors embedded with various shapes, and a design that
screamed for the high stock prices and positivity of the 1990s, saw its
demise to make way for the elite tastes of the third millenium. Sam's
Club, Border's, Party City, numerous Radio Shack locations, the
Recreation World brand, and other staples of retail in MetroWest will
undoubtedly be forgotten by most in the years to come, although they
will be permanently enshrined here.
Year and Best Wishes for 2007!