New 400,000 SqFt mall in Lynnfield (Quincy, Waltham: appointed, sales, condos)
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I like the idea, as it will be a shorter drive for me than North Shore or Burlington Mall, but it is kinda scary to see how much they are enlarging the on/off ramps on 95/128 to accommodate the traffic.
Anyone have any experience on how their communities changed when something like this was put into such a already dense area?
Personally, I don't care for it. It's simply a strip mall. It's a strip mall that will be shiny and new when it opens and it'll be outdated in about 5-10 years. More than that, we have hundreds of strip malls in Eastern MA that are 50% vacant (or 50% full... maybe I'm a pessimist?). Many big malls aren't doing so well. Natick Collection is struggling, Square One Mall is struggling, Patriot Place and Legacy Place have tons of vacancies. We don't need another suburban strip.
The link is typical developer material that's used to sell "magic beans" to the general public. Renderings are ALWAYS prettier than the finished product. ALWAYS. Look closely. You'll see colors that are brighter than anything in real life (clothes, cars, awnings, crosswalks, etc) and tons of leisurely activity. It's lipstick on a big, ugly pig. It's meant to make you go "ooh and ahh" and disregard the fact that it's a generic strip mall.
In addition, they promise open spaces for people to relax with a book or a coffee. Even in the shiny rendering, they're little more than median strips in the middle of a parking lot. Not exactly a wonderful place to relax. In Massachusetts where it's cold 6 months out of the year, your outdoor public spaces need to be perfectly executed in order to encourage use. Flowers and grass in the middle of a parking lot is not great public space.
Then there's the size. You've brought up comparisons to Burlington and North Shore malls. Well, those malls are 2 to 4 times the size of this proposed project (which is only 400,000 square feet as opposed to 1+ Million sq. feet at those malls in Eastern MA). It's not even a destination size strip mall. It's just average.
This is the worst part of it:
The buildings will feature varying colors, materials,
and design while traditional lampposts and period
benches will help create a village-like feel.
Are they serious with this? Why do we need to build a strip mall to create a "village-like feel?" Don't we live in New England? This region (especially Eastern MA) is the American epicenter for the "village." We have dozens of town and small city centers in Eastern MA that could use an influx of 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant businesses. They're the real thing! Not some prefab, hacked up attempt to make a strip mall parking lot feel like a nice place to chill with a book (it isn't and never will be). How about the developers get together with Quincy. They're trying to revamp their downtown area with $1 Billion in investments. Why not enter into a partnership with Quincy and work together? Then you have a REAL village at the intersection of I-93 and Route 3. In addition it'll be on the commuter rail AND the Red Line. Quincy's just one example. I'd rather see a 400,000 square foot retail investment in Waltham, Norwood, Beverly, Haverhill, Lynn, etc.
Adapting our existing town and city centers for retail uses again is the way to go. Look through these threads of people looking to move to MA. How many do you see asking, "Where can I live so I can drive to strip malls?!" Very few. Most people want to live in a community with a walkable town center (it seems every other thread is someone asking where they can live near a town center with shops, restaurants, etc). My beef with projects like the proposal here is that we have so many that are currently underdeveloped that we don't need to build new, faux village centers (that fail as village centers anyway).
^Natick Collection is having a difficult time, but it's not "dying." It probably came to fruition at the worst possible time for a luxury mall (at the beginning of a recession). I know they've lost many of their higher end stores. The condos there have been pretty much a complete failure (many going at auction for 1/4 the intended price). Why buy a $1.5 million 2 bedroom condo in the 'burbs when you can get more amenities for the same price in the city? If I drop that type of money in the suburbs, you better believe I'm going to have 5,000 square feet or more.
I don't know about the Chestnut Hill Mall. I've actually never been.
^Right, and that's just about my biggest beef with something like this. You know the expression, "don't ______ on me and tell me it's raining?" That's what developers do. The words "strip mall" will have been carefully omitted from meetings and press releases. Instead, the developers will use words like "colorful." "public space" "mixed-use" "pedestrian friendly" "plantings and greenery" "village feel", "traditional" and all sorts of other key words that people want to hear to coincide with outlandishly colorful and bright (perfect, even) renderings. They use these words to mask the fact that it's just another generic, boring, bland strip mall.
In short, the people involved with the project are claiming that this "lifestyle center" (the new "it word" for "strip mall") will change the area for the positive. The reality is that it's just another strip mall. If you're a fan of strip malls, you'll enjoy it. If you believe it's anything other than that, you'll be sorely disappointed.
It should be illegal to use the term "pedestrian friendly" with regards to a strip mall like these guys (they're not the only ones) do. A strip mall, by it's nature is a auto-centric development designed specifically to be accessed by cars. It's located at the junction of two major highways so that it can be easier accessed by cars. The center of the whole development is a giant parking lot (even if it does have pretty flowers and colored crosswalks). It is by no means, "pedestrian friendly."
lrfox, I know you are an active member of this forum, but the arguement you are making is just your opinion. Come to Lynnfield if you want and ask people their opinion about Meadow Walk/Market Street.
The town will benefit from the commercial tax revenues and it is a far better use of the property than an entirely residential community which would put additional demands on the town's already strained schools and infrastructure.
^I know it's just my opinion. From the standpoint of commercial tax revenue, there's no arguing that it's probably a very good thing from the community. Add to that, that residents will have some of their favorite box stores close by. It's easy to see why people would support the development based those two things.
My point is simply that in spite of the fancy renderings and crafty terminology from the developer, it's just your standard mid-size strip mall. If the residents of Lynnfield don't care and just want another strip mall, then they'll be thrilled with this. However, if those folks are buying into the sales pitch and think they're getting anything more than just a basic strip mall, they'll be disappointed. Every strip mall has a clever name and a developer who bills it as something more than just a strip mall (i.e. "Market Street" with a village center like feel). That's how they get support from the community (who thinks "we're getting something unique!"). I just wonder how many folks in Lynnfield believe that this is something more than a generic strip mall? I bet it's a lot.
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