Friday, December 21, 2007

A Brief Update on the Bedford Shopping Center Redevelopment

I recently spoke with Greg Salvatore, Managing Member and Director of Salvatore Capital Partners, the current owner of the Bedford Shopping Center. On November 26th, Salvatore Capital Partners presented some preliminary plans to the planning board and town to solicit feedback. An updated plan will be presented to the Bedford planning board in January and will incorporate some of the feedback provided.
The current layout makes it difficult to walk between stores without crossing paths
with lots of cars . The redevelopment features upgrades in pedestrian access.

In speaking with Greg, the biggest issue with the current shopping center configuration is the difficult pedestrian access. The updated plan seeks improvement to both pedestrian access and vehicle traffic flow. On the pedestrian side, the goal is to make it easier to walk around from one side of the center to the other without the need to get back in your vehicle. Adding additional stores will reduce the number of trips as shoppers can get more of there shopping done in one location,

Once construction starts, Greg anticipates it will take 18-24 months to complete the project. The project is currently scheduled to be completed in phases to ensure the stores and restaurants stay open during the construction. For example the US Post Office mail carrier building is scheduled to come down first, then a new building will be built. Once the new building is finished then Cafe Luigi, Bank of America and Cambridge Savings bank would move in to the new building while their old building is demolished.

I asked Greg about some of the other projects his company has worked on. He mentioned the Stonehill 123 retail center at 1285 Belmont Street in Brockton. According to Greg, this was an older somewhat run down shopping center that had a bunch of older store. Salvatore Capital Partners redeveloped the site and added new tenants including Starbucks and Bertucci’s.

This is an example of one of the shopping plaza's that was redeveloped by Salvatore Capital Partners.

As far as new stores, Greg mentioned there has been interest from a number of national retailers as well as some restaurants. Greg thought the strong Anchor stores (i.e. Whole Foods and Marshalls) are very helpful in attracting new high quality tenants. I would expect to see more information about new stores after the final plans have been approved by the town.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

30 Restaurants in Bedford

Was trying to figure out where to go for Lunch the other day, when I got to thinking how many restaurants are there in Bedford? So I figured I would list them all out. To make the list, they have to serve and charge for a meal and be available to the public. This excludes company cafeterias and gas stations (can you actually buy those hot dogs displayed on the grill?). I have had Ice Cream for dinner a few times so I had to include Bedford Farms --)

I came up with a total of 30 listed below. With a population of around 12,000, this works out to about 1 restaurant per 400 people or 2.5 restaurants per 1000 residents. The national average is 2.41 restaurants per 1000 residents putting Bedford just above the average restaurants per capita in the United States.

I think I got them all. I am not sure if the Bedford Plaza Hotel has a restaurant anymore. Did I miss any? A special gift to the first person that can correctly name the 3 restaurants that I have not yet eaten at yet.

I also put together a special Google map showing the location of each restaurant. You can click on the map to zoom in/out, drag or even get street view pictures. Click on the blue bulbs to pull up information on each restaurant.

View Larger Map
Map of Bedford restaurants. Click on any blue bulb to view restaurant information. I recommend zooming in so you can see more detail.

List of Restaurants in Bedford

Asiana Bistro (opening in January)
Bedford Farms
Bedford House of Beef
Bistro 44
Cafe Luigi
Carriage House
Domino's Pizza
Dunkin Donuts
Express Pizza
Flatbread Pizza
Great Wall
Kens NY Deli
Knowfat Lifestyle Grille
Lemon Tree Cafe
McDonald’s (re-opening soon)
Melting Pot
Papa Ginos
Steve’s Pizza
Stop and Shop
Sun Valley Subs
Whole Foods

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bedford Shopping Center Looking to Expand

Bedford Shopping Center is now over 40 years old and in need of a renovation.

The Bedford Shopping Center at 160 Great Road was purchased a little over 2 years ago by Salvatore Capital Partners for around $15 million. It was originally built in the 1960's. There is currently just over 100,000 square feet of retail space of which about 80% is equally split between Marshalls and Whole Foods. The remainder is taken up by smaller businesses like The Post Office and Cafe Luigi's. Salvatore Capital Partners is planning to make updates to the existing buildings and add an additional 65,000 square feet of retail space.

The preliminary plans are to
  • Add a building adjacent to Whole Foods
  • Add several additional buildings adjacent to Marshalls.
  • Demolish the Post Office mail sorting building (the USPS would move next to Marshalls).
  • Rebuild the building containing Bank Of America and Luigi's closer to where the USPS mail sorting building is currently located
  • Add an additional small building near Great Road
  • Add a small amount of retail space to the front of Whole Foods for a Florist or similar type store
A sketch outlining the preliminary plans for the Bedford Shopping Center expansion/renovation. Please click on the image for a larger picture.

In addition, the current plans include replacing the facades of the current buildings to give it a more updated look and more of a feel of a town center type of area by differentiating the look of each store. There are also listed changes to improve pedestrian access and also to help traffic flow such as widening the center entrance.

The parking lot would also include some landscaping to break down the scale of the parking lot.

As far as what stores would go in the new space, there has been interest expressed by restaurants (with possible outdoor seating facing near Great Road) as well as Banks with a drive-thru.

While the plans are preliminary and no date has been set for construction to begin, the landlord is currently advertising 40,000 square feet being available Summer of 2008. At this stage of the game the owner has just begun getting feedback from the town departments and residents.

One of the interesting things about the two large shopping centers in Bedford is that most residents don't refer to them by their actually names (Bedford Shopping Center and Great Road Shopping Center) but rather by the anchor stores Marshalls/Whole Foods and Stop and Shop/TJ Maxx. This is something that Salvatore Capital Partners mentioned as well. I recommend coming up with a new name for Bedford Shopping Center. Actually I am proposing that Salvatore Capital Partners hold a contest for town residents to come up with the new name. This would get more Bedford residents involved in the planning process and in the long run help build support to move this project forward.

The current Marshalls does have the now dated late 1960's look.

There is currently plenty of parking available as long as you don't mind parking in Saskatchewan. The expansion will result in a shorter walk from the furthest parking spots.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ice Rink Opens in Bedford

After more than 30 years, Bedford once again has an ice rink. Last week the 200 by 85 feet NHL regulation size ice rink at The Edge Sports Center located on Hartwell Road opened. Among it's many users, the new rink will be used by Hockey Teams and for public skating.
The new sports center is located at 191 Hartwell Road

As I mentioned in a previous post, the new rink has seats for over 300 spectators. It also includes full locker rooms for both sexes.

The 18,000 square foot rink is regulation size and has all the amenities including a full scoreboard.

The opening of the ice rink completes the first phase of the Edge Sports Center. An 14,000 square foot indoor turf field is scheduled to open in early December and the fitness training center around the end of the year. The turf field will be used by Soccer, Lacrosse and other teams especially during the winter months.

The large lobby area has tables for food/snacks, nearby video games and WiFi access.

What I found most unusual about this project was how quickly it was approved and built. The total time from first proposal to the planning board to the opening was less than one year. Normally projects of this size in Bedford take several years as they go through revisions and face opposition. It appears this project had the support of many of the town departments and faced little resistance. I also thought that the fact that the developer had a firm deadline in getting the project approved in order to obtain financing helped solidify the decision making process.

The Ice Schedule is displayed on a large screen right after you walk in.

The main entrance to The Edge Sports Center of Bedford.

Friday, November 2, 2007

ACE Hardware Coming to Bedford

The new store will take up both of the available units in the Great Road Shopping Center. This is the space that was previously occupied by Santoros Hardware and CFO (Clothing Fashion Outlet?). It is located between Payless Shoes and Stop and Shop. Construction on the new hardware store has not yet begun but according to reports, the store should open this upcoming spring. The Owner of the store is Rick Sargent, who also owns Moison’s Ace in Groton.
Construction has not yet begun, but a sign announces a new ACE Hardware store planned for the Great Road Shopping Center. It will be located right next to Stop and Shop.

Currently the closest hardware stores are in Concord and Burlington. The Home Depot scheduled to be built in Billerica is still before the planning board but is looking like it will move forward.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bedford McDonalds Closes for Rebuild

The Bedford McDonalds (Store #1866) recently closed so construction can begin. The existing structure, which was completed in 1971, will be torn down shortly and a new building with dual drive-thrus will replace it. In addition to the new building, site improvements including additional sidewalks are planned to improve pedestrian access.The existing building is now closed and awaits demolition. It was completed in 1971. The new building will remain one story and features a brick and clapboard exterior with a flat roof.

An example of McDonalds new "Hang Out" Zone. The new design includes couches plus WiFi emulating Starbucks. Most New McDonalds also have a flexible "family zone" and a "fast zone" with Plasma TV's for dinners eating alone.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Update on The Blake Block

Artist depiction of the 'New Blake Block' from the Intersection of South and Great Roads.

If you thought the discussions on the development of the Blake Block have been going on years and years you're right. Bruce Blake and his wife along with another couple bought the ‘Sheldon Block’ property back in 1992. Later on they bought out the other couple. In the last year or so most of the existing tenants have vacated the existing building. Ken’s Deli and Ginger Restaurants are the only 2 tenants remaining.
A view of the existing building. Only two tenants remain.

Over the past few years the plans for the “Blake Block” have evolved. The current plan is for a two story L shaped building. This building will roughly cover the same area on Great Road (although about 10 feet further back from the road). The building will extend a little further down Fletcher Road. The first floor will contain 10,000 square feet of retail space. Bruce expects a total of 6 or 7 different store fronts. The two existing restaurants are expected to remain. The second floor will also be 10,000 square feet and will be Condo’s with maybe some office space. The Country Store building will remain. There were previous plans to build some duplexes on Spring Road but this was scraped in exchange for increasing the space on the second floor from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet. Street parking will be available with additional parking behind the building. With the increased set back, the existing sidewalk on Great Road will be 20 feet wide. In addition an easement was granted so the town could add a sidewalk on Springs Road.

As far as specific retailers, we will have to wait and see. Bruce mentioned there seemed to be a lot of interest in a Bakery.
The existing building looks rather worn out.
As far as Bruce is concerned, this project is very beneficial to the town. The design of the new building is a large improvement over the existing building, which has begun looking a bit ramshackle. He sees the key to the project as part of the SMART growth program, which includes mixed use zoning to include retail and housing and perhaps some office space.
Artist depiction of the 'New Blake Block' from the Intersection of Fletcher and Great Roads.

Back in 2003, a state funded grant was awarded in association with the Citizen’s Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) to make recommendations about the future of the Blake Block. An 11 person Blake Block Smart Growth Committee was formed to come up with recommendations on how to proceed. The committee then hired a professional design and architectural firm to put together a development plan, which was completed in 2004. Over the past few years the plan has made a few changes as a result of additional feedback from town department and current residents.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger image.

Once Construction starts, Bruce expects it will take about 9 month to complete the project. What do you think about this project? What retailers would you like to see? Click on the comments link below and let us know.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Edge Sports Center Set to Open October 15th

The Edge Sports Center located at 191 Hartwell Road is set to partially open on October 15th. The center includes a regulation size hockey rink, an indoor turf athletic field, an athlete training/fitness center as well as a Pro Shop and a concession stand. While the hockey rink will open first, the rest of the facility is expected to be open by mid to late November. Once fully operational, the facility will employ between 10-12 people and be open from 7am-11pm daily.According to Scott Fusco, the owner of the facility, this is the first new ice rink in the Northwest suburbs area in over 30 years. This is not the first ice rink in Bedford however. Some of you may remember the old Belle Isle rink on Loomis Street which shut down in the 70's. The new ice rink has room for 300 spectators. While a lot of the rink time is already reserved for Hockey, there will be public skating on Sunday afternoons and during lunchtime on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Next to the rink is the lobby, which will feature large screen TV's as well as wireless Internet. The facility also features a Health Club/Athlete Training Center for players with personal trainers and physical therapists available. The Health Club can also be used by parents so they can get in a workout while their kids practice or play games.

The concession stand will feature prepared foods such as Sandwiches, Pizza and Drinks. The Pro Shop will mostly feature basic hockey items like gloves, bags and laces.

I asked Scott why it was called the Edge. He mentioned that was the result of a naming contest and it has multiple meanings such as being on the Edge of Hanscom AFB, The Edge of the Skate Blade and Athletics who are always striving for 'The Edge'. Scott who has been in the consulting business for 18 years, has been working on the new sports center for just over a year.

One open question is will the facility be accessible via sidewalk from the Minuteman Bike Extension/Reformatory Branch. While Scott mentioned their would be a bike rack at the facility, he was unsure if there would be any sidewalks.
A site overview of the new Sports Center

Construction on the turf field is nearing completion and should be open by Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Citgo Gas Comes to Bedford

The old Texaco station is now a Citgo

The old Texaco station at 105 Great Road has started selling Gas again, this time branded as a Citgo. A few years back, the station switched from Texaco to a no-name brand but still sold gas. Then it stopped selling gas completely earlier this year. The current owners have run the station for about 10 years. During this time, they have always done auto repairs and service. According to employees, they are under new management. They switched to Citgo about 2 months ago and have started selling gas again. I spoke to the owner Rich, who mentioned his focus is to offer the lowest gas prices and excellent service. He has been very pleased with the switch to Citgo. He also hopes to add a Massachusetts Inspection Station (currently the only place to get your car inspected in Bedford is at Riggio Sunoco) in the near future.

With the addition of Citgo, we are now back up to four gas stations in Town. A few years back (before Gammy's and Mobil closed) - there were six. I recently noticed a for lease sign up at the old Mobil station. Does anyone have any suggestions for what business they would like to see in this space?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

TD Banknorth Moves to New Location

The Bedford branch of TD Banknorth recently moved to the first floor of 175 Great Road (across from the Bedford Shopping Center). 175 Great Road formerly housed Konica and TIAC before that. The new branch location includes a drive through and drive up ATM. The second floor is still available for lease. The Branch was previously located right in the center of town at 60 Great Road. According to employees, the new location is much busier as 'no one knew we were there in the old location'.

I count three new bank branches in the past 18 months. If this trend continues, Bedford will soon look like downtown Lexington. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Cartridge World Opens in Bedford

Cartridge WorldOn Monday, Cartridge World opened as the last tenant at Blue Ribbon Plaza. Cartridge World recycles cartridges, sells new cartridges and a wide range of printer accessories.
Bob Sun, a Lexington resident is the owner. According to Sun, the Bedford store is the 700th location in the United States and one of over 1500 worldwide. The chain is rapidly growing and has only operated stores in the United States since 2003. The chain originally started in Australia close to 20 years ago and then spread to Europe. The recycled ink and laser cartridges are priced 30-50% lower then at most retail stores. Sun who has a background in software, decided to open his own Cartridge World franchise just a few months ago.

According to Cartridge World, only about 30% of printer cartridges are currently recycled and it takes almost a gallon of oil to make a new laser cartridge. Cartridge World recycles the cartridges locally at each store. Sun walked me through the process. After a customer hands in a empty ink cartridge, it is visually inspected and electronically tested to make sure it is working correctly. Next Sun looks up the part number and uses it to refill the cartridge with the exact ink specified. It is then tested in a printer after which it gets repackaged for sale.

Cartridge World
Cartridge World features recycled cartridges for Printers, Copiers and Fax Machines

Sun also offers a fund raising program for schools and non-profits. He provides a free recycle bin to collect empty cartridges. When the bin fills up, the school or non-profit gives Cartridge World a call who then come pick them up and write a check in return for the empty cartridges. Sun has already provided his first bin, which went to the Bedford Fire Department.

With the opening of Cartridge World, Blue Ribbon Plaza is now fully occupied with 8 tenants, a little over a year after opening. It will be interesting to see if Cartridge World affects the Staples in the Great Road Shopping Center. In my opinion, that Staples is already less busy than most other Staples that I have seen.

Friday, August 17, 2007

McDonalds to be Torn Down and Rebuilt

Bedford’s McDonalds located at 346 Great Road is scheduled to be torn down this fall.

The McDonalds, which was built in 1971 is one of the oldest in the state. The new McDonalds will feature dual drive thru lanes. As far as the interior, I am expecting the new restaurant will follow McDonalds new three zone design philosophy. Each zone caters to a different audience. The first zone features comfy sofas and chairs with free Wi-Fi and looks similar to Starbucks. The second zone includes Wide Screen Plasma TV’s and is designed for people who eat alone. The third zone is made up mostly of booths and is most similar to the existing design. It is expected that McDonalds will be closed for about 3 months while the new building is being built.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

New Chinese Restaurant Opening Soon

A new Chinese Restaurant is going in to the old Boston Market space at 200 Great Road plaza. The new restaurant will have close to 100 seats and will be family oriented. It is owned by Man Chio Ho, a Beford resident. Remodeling has already started. This will be the second new Chinese restaurant in the past year. Bamboo opened last year next to Flatbread Pizza. It will be interesting to see these compete. My recommendation to Mr. Ho is to offer great lunch specials (lacking at The Great Wall), quick take out and delivery.