Construction has begun on Newton's newest retail project Needham Street Village Shops. A 19,200 square-foot retail development, the Village Shops is marketed as an "important step toward updating the traffic-clogged road into a more pedestrian-friendly shopping district." According to its website, it will be ready for occupancy in the summer of 2014.
The project, located near the intersection with Winchester Street on the former location of International Bicycle Centers and Skipjack's Restaurant, is hoping to attract a different mix of retail shops than those currently on the street.
Newton, "City of the Thirteen Villages", is renowned to have bustling commercial activities in these distinctive neighborhood areas. And with two significant commercial corridors (Route 9/Boylston Street which is home to The Street, Chestnut Hill Mall, and Chestnut Hill Square, and Needham Street), Newton is an important location for these retail projects to emerge, with its easy access to public transportation and close proximity to populous highways, as well its vibrant population and mixed-use centers.
"We are very excited about this development," said Mayor Setti Warren. "It goes toward our vision of the N2 Corridor as a place to do business, shop, and visit. This type of development will increase walkability along Needham Street."
This "N2 Corridor" Mayor Warren refers to is an effort launched last fall to transform two suburban office parks that straddle the Newton/Needham I-95 line into a high-tech hub. According to their website, "We're part of a public-private initiative designed to promote the area as a destination for technology companies, start-ups and other innovators."
The developer of the Needham Street Village Shops is Lexington-baed Bierbrier Development Inc., which is a "premier developer and owner of shopping centers across Eastern Massachusetts", including Arlington Village Shops in Arlington, Walgreens Plaza in Haverhill, Wellington Circle Plaza in Medford and Montello Plaza in Brockton.
Bierbrier Development Inc has worked with the city to plan the project. Before this, new retail space along Needham Street has relied primarily on renovating commercial or industrial buildings. But with this newest retail development, there are hopes to change the clientele and add to the community.
"It celebrates the implementation of the vision that the city of Newton has for the 21st century conversion of Needham Street to a retail boulevard enhancing the 'live, work, play' theme so relevant to the community," wrote company president Len Bierbrier in a press release.
Design plans are modeled after the Arlington Village Shops on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, and will include the look and feel of a Main Street-style village shopping center. It will include 79 parking spaces (64 onsite and 15 adjacent employee spaces) as well as retail space available for rent.
"We have a dynamic team that has helped us put together what we believe is a new style of project to address today's retail needs," said Russ DeMartino, VP of Development at Bierbrier. "Needham Street Village Shops allows us to bring together the design of a main-street retail corridor with the parking essential to suburban shopping, all with a location that mimics a downtown mixed-use center."