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Framingham/Natick Retail NewsCenter

Customers await new Shoppers

Title: Customers await new Shopper's

Author: Joseph Mont

Publication: 1995 Guide to the Metrowest

Date of Publication: 1995

Corresponding Retail Development: Shopper's World

Corresponding Town: Framingham

Web Site Link: None


It may be difficult to imagine for anyone who has popped from shop to shop along Route 9, but there was a time when the road was hardly a commercial center.

Victor Galvani, a former member of the Framingham Board of Selectmen, recalls what Route 9 was like in the late 1940s, before Shoppers World, the mall that anchored retail growth in the area, was built.

“It was all just an open field,” he recalled. “The whole thing was carved out of an open field.”

Galvani was among those who cut the ribbon for the opening of the first Shoppers World, considered by some historians to be America’s first modem mall.

Now he, like many others in the area, is waiting to see what form Shoppers World will take. The original structure, including the famed 4,500-square-foot “flying saucer dome that once sat atop cornerstone store Jordan Marsh, was removed and the existing structure was razed last year. In 1996, a new version of the shopping center will debut.

“I think of it as a renewal,” Galvani said. “Not necessarily a rebirth, but a renewal. I’m not too sure what the total picture is going to be for the new mall, but it will be something that will be good for the whole town.”

The new Shoppers World will be a “power center,” an open-air development filled with 30,000- to 60,000-square-foot stores known as “category killers,” because they provide an exhaustive selection or a particular merchandise category.

According to John McGourty, general manager for Homart, the Chicago-based company developing the new Shoppers World and that recently opened a similarly redesigned Natick Mall a few hundred yards away, the one-two punch of the new Natick Mall and Shoppers World (a combined $235 million project) will create a new super regional business center” capable of keeping pace with nationwide trends and consumer demands.

Plans for the new shopping center also call for the construction of an “amenity parcel,” planning jargon for an open-air recreation area to be built between Shoppers World and the Natick Mall.

The parcel will include walking greens, a tot lot and an amphitheater, which will feature concerts throughout the summer.

To address the increased traffic the new shopping center is expected to attract, Homart, the state and the town of Framingham have embarked on a $3.5 million project to upgrade roads and computer-coordinate traffic signals on Route 9 and Route 30.

The new Shoppers World has also attracted several other businesses to the area, notable among them are a Jordan Marsh furniture store, a prototype for others planned throughout the country. The new “power center” also prompted the General Cinema Corp. to tear down its old cineplex on Route 9 and build a new, art deco, 14-screen cinema on Flutie Pass, the road that runs between the two shopping complexes.

According to Elaine Urban, General Cinema’s regional marketing director, a unique feature of the new cinema, which features large screens and state-of-the-art sound systems, is that it will dedicate at least one screen each week to foreign and art films.

“We felt there was a need because there was such a great number of people who follow this genre,” she said. “We also hope to tap into the moviegoing public that doesn’t want to have to go to Boston or Cambridge to see these films.”

In the coming months, General Cinema officials also plan to open the area’s first virtual reality arcade in the new cinema.

Jordan Marsh Dome

Shopper's World Sign

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