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From the NYNEX/Verizon Building to Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse

Address: 350 Cochituate Road, Framingham, MA, 01701

Original Facility built: 1964

Construction Stage: July 2005 to October 2006

New Facility opening: December 11, 2006

Known stores in former: (all office complexes) New England Telephone & Telegraph Regional Headquarters, NYNEX Regional Headquarters, Bell Atlantic Regional Headquarters, Verizon Regional Headquarters, Verizon Training Facility

Current stores: Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse

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

News stories: Lowe's Store Slated for Framingham

This building was built in 1964 for New England Telephone & Telegraph, the local telephone provider in New England (similar to Pacific Bell, BellSouth, etc.). In 1984, New England Telephone & Telegraph merged with New York Telephone as part of the breakup of the Bell System, forming NYNEX. In 1996, NYNEX merged with Bell Atlantic, the local telephone provider in the Mid-Atlantic states. Finally, in 1998, Bell Atlantic announced a merger with GTE, which in 2000 began branding the combined components as Verizon. The 350 Cochituate Road building acted as the company's local headquarters, during all of these incarnations, for the surrounding MetroWest area. In its later days, the building acted as a training center for Verizon's employees. However, with the dot-com bust, and in order to cut costs, the company moved its employees to other nearby Verizon offices and shuttered the building.

By April 2004, Lowe's, a chain of home improvement stores very similar to Home Depot, realized that it needed a foothold in the Golden Triangle area as it proceeded on its building spree in the New England states. Samuels and Associates, a Boston-based company that leased shopping complexes, entered into a long-term lease with Lowe's at this time. The MetroWest Daily News reported that Lowe's initially planned to construct a smaller 100,000 sq. ft. store, as far back as the Target store. Due to the small size of the lot, however, Lowe's would be forced to put some of the parking on the roof of the store. At that point, Lowe's only used rooftop parking at one other store: a location in Metairie, LA.

One rumored plan at this time was that Lowe's was going to acquire the adjacent post office and construct a slightly larger store that would not require parking on the roof. The post office would close, and would be replaced by two post offices, one in North Framingham and one in South Framingham. This plan never came to fruition.

The Framingham Planning Board first met with Lowe's and Samuels and Associates representatives on July 7th, 2004, and over a series of 13 public hearings, the exterior of the building changed drastically. Many aspects of the facility were debated, ranging from exterior windows for the store to lighting for the on-site bus shelter. Approval was approached in late December, and again in February, and finally happened just after midnight on February 23, 2005, when the Planning Board unanimously approved 5 articles that completed the public hearing process and cleared for the building to be constructed.

Lowe's expected to begin demolition in the weeks following the approval in an effort to open the store in January 2006. However, that was far from what would occur. A large strike of NSTAR workers during the spring prevented the building's utilities from being shut off. Finally, demolition began in June 2005, and by August, about half of the building had been razed. The construction, completed by Holliston-based Themeli Builders, was barely any more successful than the demolition. Not only did the construction take longer than expected, but In September 2006, while filing for a temporary occupancy permit, members of the Framingham Planning Board criticized broken bricks at the corners of the building, a rough ramp to the upper deck parking, and the lack of the promised bus shelter and crosswalk signals. Even worse, Lowe's had broken the town's sign bylaw by installing an unapproved sign on the store's premises.

Despite these troubles, the store eventually got its occupancy permit on October 4; following several months of stocking, the store held a "soft opening" on December 11. The store is slated to have an official grand opening on January 11, exactly a year behind schedule.

My Pictures: December 11, 2006

Lowe's roof

The completed roof parking deck atop Lowe's. Go through the automatic doors ahead, and elevators down to the store. Unfortunately, no Vermaport here.

View from the roof.

The parking deck does give a great view of the Golden Triangle's skyline, even if its highlight is a five-story bank building for the time being.

My Pictures: June 18, 2006

More of the side

This is a view of the side of the store. The covered area of the garden center is located to the top left. The store's delivery bays can be seen on the right side of the photo.

The side of Lowe's

Here's the front of what will be the store. The location of the Lowe's logo can be seen in the front; to the right, construction on the store's garden center continues but appears to be near complete. The lighting for the store's ground level parking appears to be complete; outside of this photo, though, not much of the future parking lot is paved. Further at the leftmost point seen of the building from this vantage point, you can see the completed contractor's entrance, which allows commercial customers direct access to the lumber section of the store.

The Lowe's sign

With all of the signage ordinances in place on the Cochituate Rd. strip in Framingham, this small sign for the store can't be too much of a surprise. It's around the size of the Target sign. Considering that "Now Hiring" signs were posted around the base of this permanent sign, the store's opening can't be too far in the distance.

My Pictures: August 26, 2005

Construction has begun!

Looking at construction from Ring Road, looking west toward the Lowe's construction site. The right side of the building has entirely disappeared, while the left half of the building is no more than a frame. The overgrown grass inside the fence is entirely gone, while the grass outside the fence shows how high it once was. The lousy landscaping will be replaced by fancy shrubs and mulch by when the store opens.

View of future Lowe's from North-South Connector Road and Rte. 30 interchange

Another view of the construction from the right side of the construction site, facing Route 30.

My Pictures: May 8, 2004

The former occupant of 350 Cochituate Road

Media: Renderings of Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse

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