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Somerville's 'Best Brand-New Neighborhood' In Eastern U.S.

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Bring it. The eastern reaches of Somerville along the Mystic River are about to be inundated with outlet stores, apartments and office space, transforming an area that once served as gritty muse to Clint "Get Off My Lawn" Eastwood (we know we're confusing films—Mystic River was set along there, not Gran Torino). The development trust behind Assembly Row plans to open as many as 50 outlet stores at the $1.5 billion complex, according to Casey Ross in today's Globe, which would eventually join hundreds of homes, a new Orange Line station, and a fabulously fresh 6-acre park around along the Mystic.

Basically, if everything goes according to plan, a mini-city will erupt where a Ford Motor factory once stood before it closed in 1958. (Ford manufactured the Gran Torino—see, we brought it full circle.)

The development likely means less driving or training for Hub shoppers (as Ross notes, the nearest outlet center to Boston proper is 45 minutes away by car in Wrentham). And it will, of course, serve as a boon to Somerville:

[The developer] and Somerville leaders said the project will differ from suburban-style shopping complexes, where consumers simply park, buy, and leave soon after. They said Assembly Row will function more like a district in a city, with people living and working above the stores. And the range of options — shopping, eating at a waterfront restaurant, attending an outdoor concert or a seasonal festival — will create activity throughout the day, they said.

“People will want to come to Assembly Square to experience its ambiance,’’ said Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who is a fervent supporter of the project.

“We’re building the best brand-new neighborhood on the Eastern Seaboard,’’ he said.

Still, this is major development in the Hub—it will take a while. Construction on the first buildings (a pair of apartment blocks) is expected to start in early 2012, though infrastructure work, like road-clearing, has already begun at the 45-acre site. Then more buildings, and the Orange Line station, and the park. And then—then!—an Ikea. Go, Boston. Go hard.

· A Project To Change The Retail Landscape [Globe]