Linden Square‘s property management company says Talbots is moving in, Ace Hardware will be leaving, and the hope is that at least a couple of restaurants will be coming, too.
[Note: While we originally reported, based on a Federal Realty statement at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting, that the property management firm is looking to fill GlowGolf’s space, GlowGolf says it is not leaving anytime soon and a Linden Square rep confirms that.]
One of those restaurants will likely be Sweetgreen, a salady chain that has locations in Chestnut Hill, among other places, and that would move into the former CERI Boutique space now occupied by fine linens store Bonsoir. The other restaurant hasn’t been determined, but if permission was granted by the town, would likely fill a 4,000 sq. ft. space and have fewer than 100 seats. The timing on all of this is unclear.
Federal Realty representatives told the Board of Selectmen this week (tune in at the 40-minute mark in the video below) that they are looking to significantly upgrade the retail area, in particular the south side (opposite Roche Bros.), which currently is not nearly as inviting as the north side. Or as BoS member Barbara Searle put it, the south side looks like a strip mall.
Federal Realty’s Bryan Furze said they are looking to design more connectivity between the two sides (“a more pedestrian atmosphere” — and he meant that in a good way), so that if a patron parks on one side, it won’t be a huge hassle to get to the other side of Linden Street.
They’re also looking to just plain spruce up the south side, including by possibly having local artists (including students) work on a mural along the ugly cement wall between the stores and the railroad tracks. Another possibility is fancy “storyboard” sidewalks based on various themes. Also envisioned: benches and more landscaping.
Upgrades will be coming to that side of the street whether or not more restaurants are allowed, because Talbots and other potential new tenants would demand it. (Talbots, by the way, is looking to downsize from its current two-story space in Wellesley Square, and Furze says the hope is that Talbots will move to Linden Square by Q1 or Q2 of 2017.)
Federal Realty says the changes are desired both because Wellesley has become more welcoming to restaurants since Linden Square started up, and because retail itself has changed so much in recent years to a focus on “entertainment and experience-driven environments,” and that means places that serve food.
A neighbor who spoke at the BoS meeting said she looks forward to having more eateries within walking distance, and said other neighbors she spoke with felt likewise.
As always, parking is a big sticking point, and that’s mainly what the BoS members asked about. Otherwise, the board expressed general support for a Linden Square revitalization. If the town and Linden Square can work things out, look for a Town Meeting item on this next time around.