Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What's up at the Mall?

Neighbor Adam makes a great observation about the Mall at Chestnut Hill: in the recent renovations, they took out the staircase. (The children of NS&S lament the related loss of the "penny fountain.")

It's not a good sign that there's no way to self-propel oneself from one floor to the next (unless you go outside). Escalators. Elevators. But, no stairs.

Speaking of the MaCH, on a recent visit, I noticed a bunch of empty store fronts. I only hope that means a change of tenants and not a shortage of tenants. I'm not a big fan of the MaCH, but a healthy mall is better for the city.

But, I'm not sanguine. The economy's going downhill and new stores are opening at the Natick Collection. I'm not sure that a super-regional mall in Newton is going to survive, even if anchored by the apparently wildly successful Bloomingdales store.

What does that mean? Expect that Simon (the MaCH owners) to propose a Planned Multi-Use Development (like what New England Development is proposing right across the street). They wouldn't have to tear down the mall, they could build the housing around it.

It also makes me wonder about the viability of Chestnut Hill Square. Make no mistake, with the right kind of changes, Chestnut Hill Square is a lot better than most of the alternatives. But, will it make sense to build a new mall across from a struggling mall in a recession?

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