FRAMINGHAM, MA - After we ran an article on September 13, 2011, "Centercorp to make Nobscot anouncement October 1st", Framingham resident Beth Escobar, (who had been in contact with Centercorp Retail Properties, Inc. Property Manager Terri Desjardins), leaked the news that the company now intends to fix up the Nobscot Shopping Center property and hire a new leasing agent in hopes of getting new tenants to lease the now mostly vacant strip mall.
The news was then leaked to the Nobscot Neighbors group, and to the Metrowest Daily News, and since then ideas and suggestions have been swirling around on a Nobscot email list about what types of stores local residents would like to see in the plaza.
After reading several of the ideas -- which consisted mostly of thoughts about what chain or specialty grocery store may lease the vacant former Countryfare / Star market, (which is the largest retail space on the property), and hopes that CVS would enlarge their presence, I threw out an idea I had suggested earlier this summer at one of the "We tore up Water Street" meetings.
That meeting, which Allison Steinfeld, (Town of Framingham Economic Development Department), and Julian Suso, (Framingham Town Manager), attended was held at "Framed in Time" in Saxonville and attended mostly by small business owners from Nobscot and Saxonville who were looking for ways to bring back all the business they lost due to the detours and ongoing road and sewer construction on Water Street.
My suggestion for the empty grocery store in Nobscot was for something similar to "The Marketplace", (formerly at 50-60 Worcester Rd., Framingham).
For those who haven't been in Framingham that long, The Marketplace was a Quincy Market like indoor "bazaar" operation --- aisles of vendor booths, a food court, an arcade area, (which grew into Fun n' Games).
Actually, "Fun n' Games" owner Paul Cohen, (Metro-West Realty Trust, LLC), ended up with the entire building -- then expanded it --- it now houses Legal Seafood and several other businesses.
Several other entrepreneurs who started in The Marketplace also grew their business enough that they went on to rent, buy or build larger retail spaces in town.
Prior to being The Marketplace, the property was a defunct Honeywell data center --- there were massive mainframe computers in the building and large, odd-sized concrete pads they sat on. One thing the building had going for it was plenty of electric power and a massive A/C system, (as I expect the former Countryfare / Star has).
The location could operate as a "coop"... and I'm sure some of our Framingham Farmers Market people would want to sell their produce there -- as would any craft people, small vendor types, (e.g.- people who do flea markets or trade shows may want some space). Also, the Flower Shop now located in the little [old gas station] building in front of the former State Lumber on School Street would probably take some space --- after all, they're an alumni of "The Marketplace".
"The Marketplace at Nobscot" could serve as a food market, a bakery, a food court, as well as place to shop for gift items, household items, (maybe have a small video/arcade area for teens).... and most of all serve as a small business incubator.
Possible large tenants for "The Marketplace at Nobscot" might also include some of the already established retail stores in town who might want a "booth" for a satellite / annex location to promote their larger store and sell core products in Nobscot.
But that's just my mind wandering backwards and forwards.
If you have thoughts on what should go into the Nobscot Shopping Center, or would be interested in seeing something like "The Marketplace" described above locate in Nobscot, please use the comment section below.
Or, if you're interested in leasing the space in The Nobscot Shopping Center, (770 Water Street, Framingham, MA), contact: Centercorp Retail Properties, Inc., 600 Loring Ave, Salem, MA 01970, phone: 978-741-4740. The company's website can be found at: www.centercorpre.com