November 28, 2004

First “Lifestyle Center” Opens In Massachusetts

Derby Street Shoppes, recently open in Hingham, is Massachusetts' first so-called "lifestyle center," according to the Boston Globe: a retail development featuring "open-air areas with pedestrian-friendly streetscapes. ... While many of the stores are also found in malls, their ambience is intended to be more akin to a downtown. The centers typically have wide sidewalks and elaborate landscaping, in a layout meant to encourage window shopping, outdoor dining, and strolling."

''It is designed to give the customer a sense of place that is more than just a place to shop," Tom DeSimone, a partner in W/S Development Associates LLC of Chestnut Hill, which developed the center, told the Globe. "It creates something of a downtown feel."

It's a pity they had to give this cutting-edge shopping area such a gag-inducing cutesy name. That aside, though, Derby Street Shoppes is a great concept (although I haven't seen it in person yet), and a superior alternative to yet another conventional shopping mall.

A Framingham developer has planned another one for Burlington (see earlier posting) ... but no word on any such development here in Framingham. Instead, we've got the actively ambiance-hostile Shoppers World, which was designed to have a hideously unattractive parking lot as its central feature, not an appealing streetscape. Sigh.

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