November 20, 2004

Shopping Malls a la Main Street

That's the title of a Boston Globe article about the new Wayside Commons development planned for the old Raytheon site in Burlington, Mass.

The $30 million, 190,500-square-foot outdoor mall will have " village-style retail with outdoor eating, small shops, walkways, seating, and landscaping threaded throughout the 16-acre site," the Globe says -- an attempt to recreate the feel of a New England village main street, within a 10-minute walk of 10,000 office workers and a hotel.

The project "will introduce a greater mix of uses to the district and make it more pedestrian-friendly," Kristin Hoffman, a planner for the town of Burlington, told the Globe.

Imagine what could have been done if Shoppers World, or areas of Speen Street, had been developed that way in Framingham, and office workers HERE had a village-style center to stroll through at lunchtime, instead of piling into their cars to choke area roads.

Framingham's Patriot Partners is developing the Burlington project. But the town of Framingham has no similar type of project, preferring conventional, pedestrian-hostile, aesthetically unpleasant "big box" retailers like Home Depot and BJs, set way back from the road and surrounded by a sea of asphalt.

You know what? Not every area suburb feels the same.

"Though [Burlington] was set against 'big box' retail development, officials liked the idea of a high-end, open-air retail village, which they thought would not deteriorate in value and would expand the town's tax base, [developer Steven] Rice said," according to the Boston Business Journal.


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