In the wake of celebrating its 50th anniversary last year, Burlington Mall is completing the first phase of a multimillion redevelopment aimed at reinvigorating the venerable complex with new restaurants, stores, and outdoor amenities.
The phase one effort involves creating the Village at Burlington Mall, a single-story building housing more than a dozen casual restaurants — most with outdoor seating — and shops, on the site of the former Sears Auto Center, according to Sheila Hennessy, the mall’s director of marketing and business development.
Construction of the new 35,000-square-foot building is complete, and future tenants are now preparing their spaces. The mall recently announced that the Village will debut with the opening of the European-style coffee house, Caffè Nero, in early fall. (An existing Caffè Nero inside the mall will remain).
uBreakiFix, an electronic repair shop, will open at the Village sometime after Caffè Nero, and other tenants will join them in the fall and winter.
Located on the Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington Mall has about 160 specialty shops and restaurants encompassing 1.3 million square feet. Simon Property Group owns the shopping center, anchored by Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Primark, and Crate & Barrel.
The Sears department store, one of the mall’s original tenants when it opened in 1968, and its adjoining auto center closed last year as part of a nationwide series of closures by the chain.
The redevelopment’s second phase, also well underway, involves converting the lower level of the former Sears building to specialty stores and restaurants, constructing new entrances to that building, and creating a park on both sides of the building with bocce courts and other amenities. Outdoor patios also are being built for the future new restaurants. Primark will remain on the building’s upper story.
“Burlington Mall has really been the iconic shopping center and dining destination in Massachusetts and throughout New England,” Hennessy said. “This project will really enhance our shopping experience.”
Town Meeting last September authorized the town to seek special legislation to provide Burlington nine new liquor licenses for restaurants added in the second phase of the mall redevelopment. The bill is before a legislative committee, according to state Representative Kenneth Gordon of Bedford, who with state Senator Cindy Fredman of Arlington filed the bill for the town.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Simon and the Burlington Mall as the foundation of our commercial district,” Town Administrator Paul F. Sagarino, Jr. said by e-mail. “They have been a great partner to the Town over the years and we are thankful for their willingness to continually invest in their property to maintain its position as the premier mall in New England.
“We do have some concern about reaching the saturation point for restaurants and we are hopeful that this investment won’t have a negative impact on existing businesses in this area,” Sagarino added.
Hennessy said Simon began redeveloping its malls several years ago, including in other closed Sears stores, to transform them into “mixed-use destinations for shopping, restaurants, entertainment, fitness, and other personal services.” She said the closure of the Burlington Sears made this a ripe time to undertake that effort.
“This is a very exciting time not only for Simon but for the Burlington community and beyond to bring a project with a lot of new stores and restaurants for them to enjoy,” she said.
John Laidler can be reached at email@example.com.