Thursday, January 24, 2008

Great Road Marketplace

Revised plans for the "Great Road Marketplace" (AKA Bedford Shopping Center) include a Greenway and a Restaurant with outdoor seating along The Great Road. This artist depiction is viewed from across Great Road. Please note the design is still preliminary. Click on the image for a larger more detailed view.

After getting some initial feedback from the Town and Bedford Residents, Salvatore Capital Partners made some changes to the plans for the Bedford Shopping Center now known as Great Road Marketplace (please note these plans are still preliminary and subject to change). At the initial meeting back in November, much of the feedback was on making the shopping center more friendly to pedestrians. Many people also liked the current design at the front of the shopping center (where you have Luigi's and Bank of America on one side and the Post Office and Lemon Tree Cafe on the other) in that they would frequently run in to people they know, almost making it the unofficial town center. The first set of plans had 5 rows of parking in this area.

The new version still has a lot of the parking up front, but now has a Walkway with Trees and Grass along the center that extends from The Great Road to near Marshalls and Whole Foods. Plans also include benches and bike racks. Salvatore Capital Partners referred to this as "The Greenway". Please see the image below.
This is the area that appear to have the most improvements. In it's place is a 'Greenway' that stretches from Great Road all the way down to Marshall. It is supposed to include benches, an open area and maybe even some food vendors like an Ice Cream cart in summer.

The real challenge is going to be designing the Greenway and sidewalks in a way that people will use them rather than just walking from the parking lot like they do at Wayside Commons in Burlington. I think this will be doable due to the fact that the Bedford shopping center see's a lot more "walk ins" with the nearby residential areas and bike paths.

Wayside Commons in Burlington is bordered by Route 128 and is mainly surrounded by large office buildings. Most shoppers walk through the parking lot which I think is partially due to the lack of connecting sidewalks.

The other major addition is combining the building where the post office mail sorting facility is with the building housing Luigi's and Bank of America. This enables the possibility of adding a restaurant with some outdoor seating facing the Great Road (click on the top image). If this is done right it will attract bicyclists from the surrounding Bike Paths.

One open issue I see is traffic flow. Salvatore Capital Partners has agreed to a traffic study and seems to be working to maximize the traffic flow in and around the site. I'm guessing you would have to upgrade the light to allow left turns in to the shopping center. With the additions there will be approximately 160,000 square feet of retail space. I am wondering how that compares to the Great Road Shopping Center.

Overall plan of the Great Road Marketplace. Please click on the image for a much larger view.

The design of the storefronts is still underway and has a bit more modern look than the previous design.

Depiction of the new store fronts. Please note this depiction does not show where the stores will be located.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Blake Block Approved By Planning Board

The Black Block was approved by the planning board earlier this month. This special permit "approves the construction of a mixed use project in a two-story building to include retail, restaurant, take out retail, office and residential uses and associated off-street parking, drainage systems, utilities, sidewalks, pedestrian areas and open space". The first floor will be for retail use and up to 1500 square feet of office space. The second floor will include at least 3 residential units. As previously discussed, the "Country Store" building will remain.
An updated "elevation" sketch of the Blake Block. Please note this is an elevation sketch and does not show the curves of the building. The large red building is curved on to Fletcher Road and the Yellow Building is fully on Fletcher Road.
Click here for a general artist depiction of the building.

As a condition of the approval, Bruce Blake is responsible for putting in New Sidewalks, Granite Curbing, Bike Racks, Street Trees, Benches and Trash Containers. He also will be rebuilding the Stone Wall along Springs Road. In my opinion, one of the key benefits to the project is that the sidewalk in front of Blake Block will be 20 feet wide. This will be a great place for to walk by and linger. For comparison most of the wider sidewalks in Lexington Center are 19 Feet. Please click here for sketches of the sidewalk and landscaping. There appears to be a small area of sidewalk reserved for a future Blake Block tenant. Perhaps for outdoor dining - something that Bedford is sorely lacking.

While a number of conditions were attached, the plan now goes to the Bedford Historical District Commission. There are still a few minor details to be worked out. Once approval is given by the Historical District Commission then Bruce Blake may proceed with demolition.

One future item is the construction of a Carriage House on Springs Road. The Carriage house (AKA car garage) would consist of 3 covered and 3 uncovered parking spaces for residents. Also the town may eventually build a sidewalk on Springs Road.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Asiana Bistro Getting Ready for Grand Opening

Bedford's 3rd Chinese Restaurant, Asiana Bistro located at 200 Great Road, is getting ready to open it's doors by the end of January. Major construction has been completed and the interior design is nearly done.

The new restaurant is located where Boston Market used to be. It specializes in Chinese and Japanese cuisine and is expected to open within a few weeks.

I spoke with Ricky Ho the owner. Ricky has been living in Bedford for 12 years (in fact he can now walk to work). He emigrated to the United States in 1976 from Hong Kong. He got started in the restaurant business in College when he got a job at Joyce Chen in Cambridge. He worked his way up and ended up as a manager of the Joyce Chen in Boston's Theater District. This is his first restaurant that he owns.

Asiana Bistro will specialize on Authentic Chinese from Hong Kong (where the Chefs are from) with a focus on Cantonese and Hong Kong styles. In addition to Chinese, the menu will also include Japanese as well as a sprinkling of other Asian cuisines such as Thai. While the menu will have a full selection, Ricky stressed that you will also be able to order "off the menu". He sees this as a plus for the "Older Generation" who still like to order their traditional favorites.

The restaurant which is expected to have around 10 employees, will be open for lunch and dinner every day. While there will be express lunch specials, there will not be a buffet. Of course take out will be available which Ricky thinks will be of interest to the many companies in Bedford. More importantly he expects to start offering delivery about 1 month after opening. I think this is a good idea as both Great Wall and Bamboo do not offer delivery. The restaurant will serve alcoholic drinks although there will not be a separate bar area.

Asiana Bistro has a total of 88 seats. Included within this number is a separate seating area of about 20-30 seats that can be used as a private room for business meetings or parties. Ricky mentioned there is also Catering available.

I asked Ricky, how he came up with the name Asiana Bistro. He mentioned a friend of his wife came up with Asiana, they talked about it and decided to add Bistro. He feels the name represents the varied selection of Asian cuisines that will be available.

The restaurant should be opening right around the end of January. I plan to have an update along with some photos of the interior shortly before it opens.