August 4, 2005

Malls, Alfresco

GlobeWest has apparently discovered the latest trend in shopping centers: trying to mimic traditional town centers, noting "the roof is coming off the shopping mall.

In the mall's latest incarnation, trees line the walkways. The buildings are one or two stories high, and are designed to look quaint. Shoppers sit down for meals, their tables shaded by umbrellas. Some can even stroll across the grass to their nearby homes.

The story notes that such malls are planned for Wayland, with a "mix of stores, offices, homes, a public building and public space" as well as Westborough and Berlin, but amazingly neglects to mention that the major Natick Mall expansion is quite contrary to this trend, instead sticking to the formula popular from half a century ago.

In other mall news, the paper reports that the soon-to-be-closing Filene's anchor store at the mall could be subdivided, and possibly leased to "a hotel, a movie theater or a restaurant." A mall official said that Natick has "a shortage" of a good upscale restaurants such as McCormick and Schmick's or P.F. Chang's.

In fact, there's Maxwell's 148 in downtown Natick, which a great local upscale restaurant. I think the official meant on Rte. 9 in Natick. Or perhaps meant a shortage of high-end chain restaurants.

Actually, what Rte. 9 in Natick has a shortage of is somewhere you can enjoy a sense of place and civilized experience both before and after dining, not simply at the restaurant itself. You know, such as strolling in an appealing streetscape instead of the endless-strip-mall-on-steroids look of the Golden Triangle.

1 comment:

  1. I think the village center (roofless mall) concept is awesome- and in many places, it was a traditional mall but then
    redeveloped into a walkable area with outdoor seating and all that stuff people love. Social gathering spots, places
    to sit and eat, all within a short stroll to the car. However, not every traditional mall is doomed to become a
    village center. The cooler climates would probably be less likely to convert the old malls, but even in sunny Florida,
    we have some smaller cities that will probably never lose the old mall. The mall here in Gainesville has been evolving
    almost every year- and it has to in order to keep up with the competition. There are some village-style strip malls
    but nothing in size equivalent to the big mall. The have not only changed stores, they've removed the movie
    theater and expanded the food court. They've added kids play areas and even added onto the outside of the mall with
    a Linen's N Things, Ann Taylor Loft and a Romano's Macaroni Grill. The stores themselves move around and remodel
    themeselves. If they didn't, then people would get bored of it and overall sales would drop. It sounds like
    Natick Mall is renovating to keep up with the village centers. If they keep up the renovations, to "keep it fresh"
    so to say, I think they'll stay competitive to the newer trendy outdoor malls.
    And if you get a P.F. Chang''ll have a very nice addition to that mall! Yum! Although the only 2 P.F. Chang's
    I've seen are in a Miami outdoor mall and Winter Park Village (formerly Winter Park Mall) in Winter Park, FL.