August 12, 2004

Artana Art Gallery Closes in Saxonville

The Artana Gallery in Framingham is no more -- something I feared would happen once the gallery opened a "second" location in Brookline. The Head First Gallery next door already closed, bringing an end to the little art-colony enclave north of the Mill at 3 Elm Street (the building with the nice bay windows.)

According to signs on the building, coming soon are a nail salon and a door & window store. I wish the new businesses well! ... but I also can't help feeling that this is a bit of a step backwards for the Saxonville business district as a destination retail center.

I like a manicure as much as the next gal (even if I only average about one every 5 years or so), but there are already two beauty salons around the corner in the Pinefield shopping center. And while I really like the new doors and windows on my home, too, I'm guessing there's a reason home-improvement-type stores are mostly on side corridors at the Natick Mall instead of the main one -- they're not prime attractions for repeat shoppers or browsers (unless you're a contractor, how many times in your life do you need to look at windows and doors?). 3 Elm had been a nice regional draw, a retail "anchor" if you will, such as when Artanna hosted receptions.

Saxonville has a unique and special sense of place, but it can't compete with Rte. 9 for easy access and parking. It should be leveraging its sense of place by offering something different that you can't get elsewhere -- like the stores in the Mill such as Lasting Presents, like the artists' studios when they do their open houses. A nail salon, a Subway ... making Saxonville center look like Anywhere, Rte. 9 would be a pity.

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