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.