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Year in Review: 2007

Well, everyone, this was the year that everything happened. Even if we don't know who else will become part of "The Promenade", what hotel will become part of the Collection, Gucci and P.F. Chang's aren't yet ready for our business, and there won't be anyone celebrating this New Year's Eve in Nouvelle's north tower penthouse, it was pretty eventful. The controversial "Natick" name was dropped, and this September, the rebranded Natick Collection opened its long awaited luxury expansion anchored by Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. But in more detail, here's how it all went down.

JANUARY: As the north tower of Nouvelle at Natick reaches its top height, the mall holds a topping-off ceremony. The kitchen floor at Bennigan's Grill & Tavern buckles, so the restaurant closes for repairs but never reopens. Waldenbooks closes at the mall. With tensions from the Town of Natick rising, General Growth re-brands what had become "Natick" back to the Natick Mall.

FEBRUARY: The mall changes its name once again, settling on the name "Natick Collection" for the new and existing portions of the mall. Betsey Johnson, Anthropologie, Hanna Andersson, Puma, and Burberry are named future tenants of the Collection.

MARCH: J.C. Penney opens March 9th in the former Macy's building, with Parking Garage F opening just south of the store on March 4th. Framingham's CompUSA begins to liquidate it's inventory. Somerville's Good Time Emporium has it's sights on Natick in the former Sam's Club space. Apple and Tiffany & Co. both announce plans to occupy spaces in the expansion.

APRIL: Middlesex Savings Bank begins work on a new branch on Rte. 9. Otis & Ahern hope to sell a few Nouvelle units, if they can get a banner facing the Mass Pike approved. Sel de la Terre finds a chef for their upcoming restaurant.

MAY: abercrombie (a.k.a. Abercrombie Kids) announces plans to open in the existing portion of the mall, while rumors arise that the New Albany, Ohio-based company has plans for a RUEHL No.925 store in the expansion. Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman also join the expansion's tenant list. Roadwork begins on Speen Street. A 40-year old woman and her daughters beat up a 16-year old girl at the Natick Collection near Dunkin Donuts.

JUNE: Boston Magazine holds a photoshoot at, of all places, the Natick Collection construction site. Moonstruck Chocolate, Tommy Bahama, Bose, Fire + Ice, Bare Escentuals, Tourneau, Jacob, and Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic make themselves known as tenants. Boloco opens next to Ben & Jerry's.

JULY: Calvin Klein picks the Natick Collection as home for one of it's new "White Label" stores, as Allen-Edmonds, Brighton Collectables, lululemon athletica, Solstice, Vera Bradley, Fruits & Passion, GUESS?, and Metropark also join the list. But nobody's really ready for the big opening, so Neiman Marcus and several other stores delay their opening. Work begins to rid Rte. 9 of the Tudor-stylings of the old Borders building, which was to become a Colonial-styled home to Sprint.

AUGUST: The mall gets ready for the big day, as the last 1994-era signage is replaced to make way for the new modern look. Lots of parking goes missing from the front of the mall to make way for the new Natick Collection "Promenade," and it's first tenant, the Cheesecake Factory.

SEPTEMBER: Three different galas take place for the anchor tenants and the mall on the eve of the grand opening of the Natick Collection expansion. At last, on September 7th, doors open to the expansion, Nordstrom, and many of the tenants. Neiman Marcus follows suit on September 15th. Between the two, over in the food court, Salad Creations says hello.

OCTOBER: Mall eateries aren't thrilled with the Natick Board of Selectmen. The Cheesecake Factory opens to colossal crowds on October 18th; in the former CompUSA building, "BODIES... The Exhibition" tries to open but is delayed due to permit issues. New York & Company announces plans to shutter iconic Boston chain Jasmine Sola, with local outposts in Wellesley and Chestnut Hill.

NOVEMBER: After stupidly leaving her purse on a bench at a Newbury Street bar, WBZ-TV (Ch. 4) meteorologist Mish Michaels' stolen credit cards were used at the Natick Collection, which was also where the thief was caught red-handed by police. General Growth cancels the Natick Collection's annual "Evening of Giving", but nobody cares. Big crowds fill MetroWest stores during the early morning hours of Black Friday, but the afternoon becomes fairly quiet and some retailers see no boost at all.

DECEMBER: Back Bay Restaurant Group-owned Papa Razzi makes plans to open in the former Bennigan's after extensive renovations. The weekend of December 22-23 ends up being one of the busiest so far at the expanded Collection. The owner of Alpha Omega flees to India and shutters the company's stores 5 days before Christmas, but the stores reopen under different management on December 23rd.

Happy New Year 2008 Everyone!

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