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Wegmansmania 2! Anchoring Mega-Development Off Route 128

When the first Wegmans in Massachusetts opened its doors in mid-October in Northborough it was, we can say without hyperbole, the most important thing to happen to this area since the 2004 World Series. The media coverage would have made the Kardashian sisters blanch and the public reaction, as we noted at the time, ranged from ecstatic to ecstatic tinged with rapture.

Well, kids, there could be another one—this time closer to the Hub than Northborough. And this 140,000-square-foot Wegmans—outdoor fire pit included—would help anchor a $500 million development that would include 300 higher-end apartments and 2 million square feet of office space spread over 285 acres.

The development, per Casey Ross at The Globe, is supposed to transform an old, 50-building office park just beyond Route 128, at the intersection of the Middlesex Turnpike and Third Avenue in Burlington. And, unlike, say, the mega-development planned for Somerville on the banks of the Mystic, with its Ikea and Home Depot and the like, this one would err on the side of chi-chi local:

“We want the focus to be on getting the best operators, so we’re talking to independent and chef-driven restaurants, as opposed to chains,’’ said Todd Fremont-Smith, senior vice president of development [for developer Nordblom]. “We believe that’s what the market wants: something more experience-based than just a shopping center with a large food court.’’ It's not such a crazy idea.

Retail specialists said Nordblom’s strategy plays off of the rising demand for homespun eateries in unique settings instead of the ubiquitous national brands that serve the same food, in the same setting, in dozens of restaurants across the country. Right now, mum's the word on the particular restaurants (though the developer has obtained 10 liquor licenses to spread around) but they and the Wegmans are scheduled to open next fall. Prepare.

· Developer Envisions Dining Mecca at Old Office Park [Globe]
· Wegmansmania [Curbed Boston]
· Somerville's 'Best Brand-New Neighborhood' in Eastern U.S. [Curbed Boston]