Friday, August 21, 2015

Bank of America Branch in Bedford Moving to Temporary Trailer in Bedford Marketplace

The building housing Bank of America branch 14391 at 152 Great Road in the Bedford Marketplace is set to be demolished at the end of the month. The building also houses b.good which has already closed, and Cafe Luigi which is expected to close on August 29th.

While the Bank of America Branch is set to open in the new building under construction along Great Road, it's expected to be a month or two before it will be ready. So in the meanwhile, Bank of America has trucked in a 925 square foot custom trailer to act as a temporary branch until the new location is opened. The temporary branch also contains a ATM and an overnight deposit drop box. Bank of America moves this trailer across the country as needed.

From an old sign on the trailer door, it appears this temporary branch was last used at an shopping center at 255 North Washington Street in Rockville Maryland, while a new branch was being built next door at 275 North Washington Street.
The temporary Bank of America branch is being housed in between the Marshall's and Whole Foods front entrances.

Electrical power still needs to be hooked up to a temporary transformer. The trailer is expected to be ready to before the existing branch closes on August 28th.
It's interesting that Bank of America is going to great lengths to open a temporary branch for the relatively short amount of time between when the old branch closes and the new one opens. This might be due to the fact there are four competing banks (Brookline, Cambridge Saving, Middlesex Savings and TD) within a few hundred feet of the existing branch so Bank of America does not want to take the risk of having customers defect.

The new Bank of America Branch is expect to be housed in the new white building under construction behind and to the left of the existing b.good. The new branch location will also house a drive-thru.
While the current building is expected to demolished in September, Bank of America and b.good should reopen before the end of the year in the same building while Cafe Luigi is expected to reopen next spring in a different location in Bedford Marketplace. It's not clear if the existing Bank of America branch number (14391) will change.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bella Maria’s Cucina Italian Restaurant Opens on Blake Block

Bella Maria’s Cucina located at 80 Great Road, opened on July 20th in the space formerly occupied by Wicked Good Frozen Yogurt.

I recently spoke with James Garabedian, one of the owners. James opened Ken's in November 2013 along with co-owners Marie and John Cronin. Marie and John also owned Wicked Good Frozen Yogurt in the adjacent space (which had opened a few month earlier). Last November, Wicked Good Frozen Yogurt shut down. The partners did some thinking and saw a need for a Italian Restaurant in town and came up with the idea to use the space from the Frozen Yogurt store to open a higher end Italian Restaurant. The restaurant is named after Marie.

The restaurant offers a mix of booths, regular tables, high tops and bar stools
Bella Maria’s Cucina which is only open for dinner, has 36 seats. The menu focuses on pasta, fresh sea food, steaks and Italian wines. The restaurant shares a kitchen with Ken's but the menu is unique. The restaurant currently has a beer and wine license but is expecting to get full liquor license shortly.

Bella Maria’s Cucina has a more modern appearance then Ken's. They both share a kitchen and liquor license.
James stated he really enjoys the Bedford community and Ken's has been heavily involved in supporting local causes including the schools and they plan to continue what they are doing with the addition of Bella Maria’s Cucina. He also mentioned that while the restaurant has only been open a short time, the response has been very positive.

While several restaurants in the area such as Cafe Escadrille in Burlington offer multiple dining experiences such as a bar/cafe menu and a more formal dining room menu, Ken's/Bella Maria’s Cucina seems to be one of the first ones to do it under two different names/brands in the region. The one kitchen/two restaurant business model is becoming more popular and I expect we will see additional examples in the next year or so.

With outdoor seating appearing this spring and now the addition of Bella Maria’s Cucina next door you can say that Ken's has expanded twice.

1. While the restaurant seems to directly compete with Cafe Luigi's it appears to be targeted a little more upscale.
2. The outdoor seating for Ken's that was added in May seems to be working out very well for Ken's and has added some needed vitality to Bedford Center.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Tailwind Adds NYC Seaplane Shuttle Service between Bedford and East 23rd Street in Manhattan

The Cessna 208 Caravan 675 is equipped to land on water or land and has space for 9 passengers

Last month, Tailwind launched a non-stop seaplane service between Hanscom Field in Bedford to New York City via the Skyport seaplane terminal on the East River at 23rd Street. Tailwind operates under an FAA Part 135 “On Demand” Air Carrier Certificate enabling it to conduct on-demand air charter and air taxi operations for hire. Rather than use the regular civil passenger terminal at Hanscom, Tailwind operates out of Rectrix which is a new Fixed Based Operator (FBO) which opened in Bedford in 2014. The three FBO's in Bedford primarily service corporate jets along with General Aviation.

Rectrix provides a much more relaxing environment to wait for your flight than your typical passenger terminal.

The seaplane service is designed for people who need to travel from the Bedford Area to NYC just for the day. The idea being that it saves a lot of time by avoiding having to travel from Bedford to Logan Airport and then from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan and back. Tailwind flies on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday leaving Bedford at 7:30 am and arriving in Manhattan at 8:45 am. The return flight leaves the Manhattan East River at 4:45 pm and arrives in Bedford at 6 pm. According to Tailwind, you need to arrive 20 minutes before the scheduled departure and there is no TSA screening at the Seaport in Manhattan. To get to Manhattan by 9 am via Logan, you would have to leave the Bedford area around 5:30 am to catch a 7 am flight and then leave Manhattan by 2:30 pm to catch a 4 pm flight to get back by 6 pm. I would estimate you would save over 4 hours and avoid paying for taxis to and from the airports. Rectrix also offers free parking for Tailwind customers.

The airplane hanger space at Rectrix comprises 60K square feet and is currently 100% occupied. In addition to the Hanger space, the building has over 20K square feet of additional space which is split among the FBO lobby, office space for Rectrix Corporate Headquarters and office space it leases out to it's corporate clients.

The Rectrix FBO lobby includes plenty of space for clients and pilots to relax between flights. The FBO also has conference and meeting rooms, a lounge for pilots and a weather and flight-planning center.

This Tailwind airplane was built in 1999 and is powered by a 675 Horsepower  Pratt & Whitney Turbo-prop. The flight to Manhattan takes about an hour and 15 minutes.
There are now three Fixed Based Operators in Bedford which includes the recent addition of Rectrix, Jet Aviation, which just kicked off a major expansion of it's facilities and Signature Flight Support

Rectrix is adding a restaurant which will be open for Breakfast and Lunch and should also be open to the public.
1. It will be interesting to see if business travelers take advantage of the Tailwind Service. Over the past decades there have been several attempts to schedule flights between Bedford and the NYC area. Tailwind seems to be taking a unique approach by flying directly in to Manhattan.

2. It seems to be a smart idea to add a restaurant at Hanscom Field. This provides a nice amenity for the airport and may also attract workers from the nearby office parks off Virginia road in Concord as there are presently no other restaurants nearby.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ocean State Job Lot is Coming to Bedford

Ocean State Job Lot will be opening a new store at the old Staples location at 297 Great Road in the Great Road Shopping Center. This is expected to be their 120th store. Stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stop & Shop and Hannaford Parent Companies Annouce Merger

The Dutch company Royal Ahold NV which is the parent company of Stop & Shop, recently announced a merger agreement with the Belgian based Delhaize Group which is the Parent Company of Hannaford. There are currently just under 400 Stop & Shops with over 180 Hannaford supermarkets. The merger, which is subject to government approval, is expected to be completed in 2016.

How will this merger the impact the Bedford Stop and Shop in the Great Road Shopping Center? In cases where both companies each have stores very close to each other, they frequently will divest some of these location in order to help ensure Federal Trade Commission approval of the merger. This was the case about 20 years ago in Bedford. When Stop & Shop bought Purity Supreme, they closed the Bedford Purity Supreme (now a Whole Foods) which was less than one mile down the road from the Bedford Stop & Shop. The nearest Hannaford stores to Bedford are in Waltham and Lowell so this should not be an issue for the Bedford store.

What could be more interesting is if the new company will keep both the Hannafords and Stop and Shop brands. Unlike other industry mergers where the brands are quickly combined for additional cost savings, supermarkets have tended to keep the individual brand names. For example when Shaw's bought Star Market in 1999 they kept both brands. While the conventional wisdom still supports keeping both names, this may make less sense nowadays. Ten years ago consumer did almost all their grocery shopping at one store while now a good portion split their shopping between multiple supermarkets. The net result is more emphasis on price and service than long term brand loyalty.

The Bedford Stop & Shop is facing a lot more competition with the recent opening of the Wegman's in Burlington as well as smaller stores that sell some groceries such as Ocean State Job Mart which is expected to open just a few door down at the old Staples location. In addition, Walmart now has over 650 Walmart Neighborhood Markets. These stores are much smaller than the typical Walmart (around 40,000 square feet) and primarily focus on groceries. While there are not yet any Walmart Neighborhood Markets in Massachusetts, I would expect to see some soon as Walmart is forecast to open around 200 additional Walmart Neighborhood Markets before the end of 2016.

What do you think? Would you like the Bedford Stop and Shop to keep it's name or would you have it rebrand at Hannaford?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Brief Update on the Bedford Marketplace Renovations

Construction continues at Bedford Marketplace. Above is the new building going up that faces Great Road. The left front of the building is expected to house a Bank with a drive thru in the rear. Once this building has been completed and tenants have moved in, the old building that housed Cafe Luigi's, Bank of America and other tenants will be demolished.

New trees have been added to the shopping center. The Green Bags around the base of the trees are known as Treegators. They are filled with about 15 gallons of water which is slowly released over a period of about a week. The bags are then refilled.

A new front entranceway has been proposed for Whole Foods.  The new addition which would stand in front of the existing storefront, has a maximum height of 45 feet.

The new 17,000 square foot building to the left of Marshall's. The section to the left of the telephone pole will be Red Heat Tavern which is expected to open this fall. The right section which is just under 12,000 square feet, appears to still be under negotiation with a prospective tenant (unconfirmed reports have indicated this may be a pet store). While the new buildings are all one story, they are much higher than the existing buildings.

As part of the renovation to help improve traffic flow, a left turn lane was just added (view is heading east on Great Road). The traffic signal still needs to be updated along with the no left turn sign on the traffic pole.

Above is a general overview of how the shopping center will look once renovations have been completed. The center building that currently houses Lincoln Liquors will be rebuilt closer to Great Road with the Liquor store being moved to the back of the building. In addition, a Learning Express Toys store has been proposed for the front of the building and is currently up for review by the zoning board of appeals.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Colasante Hair Studio Moves to the Depot District

Colasante Hair Studio recently moved from the Bedford Marketplace to the Bedford Depot Building at 80 Loomis Street. The shop which opened in November 2013, replaced the Center Hair Stylist barbershop. 

The Studio also sells a wide assortment of retail hair products.
The space, which was just renovated was formerly occupied by JRM Antiques.

As previously reported, the Studio's expertise is in hair coloring. The stylists makes frequent use of hair color products with protein and extra virgin olive oil to condition the hair and keep the color shiny.

The Bedford Depot Building which was formerly used as a railroad station, underwent an exterior renovation in 2014 that included new doors and windows along with a handicap-accessible restroom.

The Bedford Depot building is now fully leased out.

It's good to see retail back in the Depot Building. Along with the renovations (which have improved the look and feel of the Depot District), there have also been improvements with signage but some additional improvements may still be needed to draw retail traffic.

The Depot District will soon be getting additional retail space with the completion of The Crossing at Bedford (54 Loomis Street) this summer which includes 2800 square feet and the expansion of the Bikeway Source building adds another 1250 square feet.

How the Depot Building looked in 2008 before a series of renovations.