Federal Realty Investment Trust — the folks who brought you Linden Square — wants to make some big changes to the shopping area, as their representatives have told the Board of Selectmen. Over the past year, they’ve drawn up plans detailing the way they want to significantly upgrade the retail area, particularly the south side (the California Pizza Kitchen side), 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.
To this end, Federal Realty will hold a Community Meeting at Town Hall in the Great Room, Wednesday, March 1, 7pm to give a full presentation of this proposed “Linden 2.0” plan. Think informal, here. There will be no voting or official “Community Speak” segment. It’s more of an informational meeting and presentation.
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. As always, parking is a big sticking point, and that’s an issue that Federal Realty says it will fully address, and that they have a traffic studies presentation that they are eager to share.
Furze concedes that parking, especially during peak and panic times, can be tight saying, “We will manage parking better with employees and lead people to little-know spots.” Sigh. I’ll miss the ready availability of my little-known spot.
Some other details that will be covered: Sweetgreen, a healthy, organic, supports local-farmers kind of place that espouses all the right core values and screams sustainability (and which will provide refreshments at the March 1 meeting), will be the “fast casual” 2,000 sq. ft. restaurant that will open on the North side in the fall in the space currently occupied by Bonsoir. Don’t say au revoir to Bonsoir for your fine European bedding needs, however. They’ve moved a few times in Wellesley over the years, so it seems likely that they will simply do so again.
Meanwhile, on the South side, Talbots is preparing for its grand re-opening in April in the former Ace Hardware space, and Federal Realty says that a to-be-determined 4,000 square foot, full-service restaurant of about 100 seats will go in over there.
In addition to the new shopping and dining mix, several beautification plans and improvements are set to take place which include a new and improved courtyard with better seating; a decorative lighting display extended across the street with a pedestrian experience that creates a better connection between the two sides of the shopping center; community art projects involving local artists and students; and community raised vegetable gardens, hopefully in a partnership with Charles River Center in Needham, which supports people with developmental disabilities through employment and day services; residential services; family support; and more.
All of this still has a ways to go. If Town Meeting this April okays the Linden Square plans when it votes on a warrant article, then Federal Realty will proceed with the process, which includes obtaining building permits and going before the design review board.