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From the Framingham Mall to Target

Address: 400 Cochituate Road, Framingham, MA, 01701

Original Facility built: 1978

Construction Stage: 2000-2001

New Facility opening: (Target) October 14, 2001

Known stores in former: Lechmere, Learning Express, Papa Gino's, Brigham's Ice Cream, Boston Cookie, Maakas Pizza, Brett's Luggage, Eye World, Fredericks of Hollywood, Fanny Farmer, AT&T Wireless (2 Locations), Filene's Basement, Bop City Comics, Tobacco Store, Art Gallery, Bookstore, Vitamin Store, Wild Tops. Great Books, Kara's Hallmark Shop

Current stores: Target, Panara Bread, Payless Shoe Source, EB Games, HomeGoods

Mall (Store) website: http://www.target.com

News stories: Old Framingham Mall's rebirth is right on targetDimeo Construction & Target: Building Throughout the Northeast

The Framingham Mall was a prosperous mall during the 80's and early 90's. The mall was built on the site of a large lot of crabgrass on Rte. 30 (Cochituate Rd.), just north of Shoppers World. According to permits in the Framingham property database, the mall opened in either 1978 or 1979 with Filene's Basement and Lechmere as the original anchors. Some of the tenants included Learning Express (next to Lechmere, later a vitamin store) Boston Cookie, Payless, Fanny Farmer candy, Brett's Luggage, Fredericks of Hollywood, Maakas Pizza, a Tobacco Store, a Papa Gino's, Eye World, and an art gallery. Another tenant was Wild Tops, which sold t-shirts with iron-on decals. Over time, the Papa Gino's would be replaced by Brigham's Ice Cream. There was also a BayBank branch attached to the mall, but accessible only from the interior. The Filene's Basement was accessible only from the interior of the mall, although it was only a quick walk from the mall's east entrance.

The entire mall began a slow demise with the redevelopment of the Natick Mall and Shopper's World during the mid-1990s. A few tenants left, but the change was nothing truly significant. In 1994, Montgomery Ward acquired Lechmere. In an effort to preserve the company's namesake chain, all of Ward's specialty chains, including Lechmere, HomeImage by Lechmere, and Electric Avenue & More; were shuttered by late 1997. With the closure of Lechmere, vacancies quickly began to pile up in that portion of the mall.

With vacancies rising, the mall's ownership gave the mall a small renovation in 1998. The highlight of the minor renovation was the removal of a seating area in the middle of the mall that was at least a foot or two lower than the rest of the mall. This area of the mall was leveled to be the same level as the rest of the mall, and new, vibrant tile flooring was installed in the mall. Another feature of the renovation was the addition of signage on the outside of the mall listing what retailers were inside. Yet it seemed as if it was too late; Lechmere was still vacant, and the vacancies were getting out of control. Filene's Basement wasn't exempt of financial struggles either, and in 1999, the Framingham store was included in the chain's second batch of closings. Other than a liquidator, Warehouse Super Sales, which temporarily set up shop in the Lechmere space, the mall was left anchorless. Eye World closed in 1999, leaving Payless Shoe Source (which benefited from proximity to Filene's Basement's interior entrance) and a Panera Bread, which opened in 1999 in the former Brigham's Ice Cream Space with an external entrance.

Through it all, mall management claimed that new tenants were on the way. In 1998, it appeared that an EXPO Design Center had been lined up for the Lechmere space, but this was not to be. In 1999, Dayton-Hudson Corporation (now Target Corporation) acquired the Framingham Mall for an extremely low price.

Following the acquisition, Dayton-Hudson began to work on fixing the plaza. The company went to the Framingham Planning Board with plans to demolish the existing Lechmere anchor and about half of the mall to construct a 143,000 sq. ft. Target Greatland anchor store. The 25,000 sq. ft. vacant Filene's Basement would be leased to a secondary anchor, and the Panera Bread and Payless Shoe Source would be "de-malled" and given new exterior exits that would match the facade of Target. In the space that originally connected the mall entrance to the entrance to Filene's Basement, a new retail space would be created. The mall space not utilized by the new stores would become a two-floored storage area for Target.

The changes began in summer 2000, when Filene's Basement was gutted and a new facade was put up for HomeGoods, which filled the space when it opened on August 13, 2000. A new exterior entrance was created, and the old Filene's Basement mall entrance was closed. Over the next year, many changes would occur at the former Framingham Mall. Eventually, the said changes occurred, and following a soft opening, the Framingham Target officially opened on Saturday, October 14, 2001. The small retail space created by the renovation was not occupied until early 2004, when EB Games (Electronics Boutique) opened at the plaza, bringing the center to 100% occupancy.

My Pictures: Taken May 8, 2004

Target

The Mall's flagship store, the 140,000 sq. ft. Target Greatland. It looks different than other Targets because the reddish scheme would look poor amongst other area retail developments. It's unclear as to why the exterior lettering does not read Target Greatland.

Panera, Payless, EB

The center area of the plaza, consisting of a Panera Bread, the mall's longtime Payless Shoe Source, and EB Games.

HomeGoods

The right side of the mall, consisting of the HomeGoods store, an ex-Filene's Basement. In fact, on the TJX corporate website's HomeGoods page, a woman is seen walking out of this particular store, as well as TJX's other area stores. This is most likely because they are the closest stores to the corporate headquarters (which are located on Cochituate Road as well).

Media: Aerial picture of Framingham Mall (actually part of picture on Framingham.com), Lechmere Photos, floorplans below.

old floor
new floor

Related Links: Pictures of a Lechmere in NH for interior reference, Town of Framingham property photos


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