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               ASSEMBLY SQUARE MALL: SOMMERVILLE, MA

Chris S.'s Commentary:

Janury 28, 2006 (user submitted)

What was once a bustling enclosed mall with Kmart and Jordan Marsh became a ghost town by the later 90's. This mall probably opened in the early 80's in this former Ford Manufacturing plant. Through the 80's and first half of 90's it seemed to be doing fairly well. In 1996, Jordan Marsh, along with all other Jordan Marsh's was converted to Macy*s. However, in 1997 Macy*s closed the store at Assembly Square. The smaller stores quickly retreated and finally a Building 19 salvage store opened in the former department store space. However, the mall was still dying. The McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts closed and the mall entrance and Kmart's mall entrance were sealed off. For the next few years the mall was closed with only the Building 19 and Kmart remaining, but with the mall entrances sealed. Surprisingly Kmart renovated their store during this time.

I don't understand why this mall failed. It is in a very desirable high traffic location, visible from route 93. The Home Depot next door is one of their highest sales locations and the new Gateway shopping center across the river is always packed. Ikea has and still continues to fight to build a store across the parking lot from the mall, however they have since built another Boston area store, but are still committed to Assembly Square. In 2004, plans surfaced to de-mall the site. Building 19 was forced to close their store. The mall was gutted out and would be turned into a strip mall of Big Box stores. In late 2005, Christmas Tree Shops opened in part of the former Macy's/Jordan Marsh store. A TJ Maxx / Homegoods also opened in areas that were formally mall. In the winter of 2006, new stores will fill up the rest of the vacancies. The rest of the former Macy's / Jordan Marsh will be leased to Staples. The rest of the former mall area will be leased to Sports Authority, Bed Bath and Beyond and an AC Moore Crafts store. The Kmart store will remain in place.

Asher Miller's Commentary:

October 18, 2003 (user submitted)

This one is a big deal; it's been a dying or dead mall for years now, and a major redevelopment issue in Somerville, a densly-populated city just north of Cambridge and Boston, MA. It was originally a Ford assembly plant which was redeveloped into a mall in (I think) the 1970s. It's a big, long, oblong space with a Big Kmart on one end, and a Building 19 salvage store on the other; everything else in between is unoccupied.

Ikea has purchased a large parcel of the land, and Home Depot wants to build a new, expanded store to replace one 1/2 a mile away, at one of their busiest locations in the country.

Complicating matters is that this whole parcel has frontage on the Mystic River, and a local group (the Mystic View Task Force) wants to see smart, dense, mixed-use development at Assembly Square. The developers, of course, want to see simple big-box retail.

If done right, this could be a huge cash cow for Somerville, bringing high-tech jobs, a strong tax base, and public transit to the city. If done wrong, it could be a huge white elephant, and will cause more problems than it solves, including drastically increased traffic in the area, increased services, etc., and little or no tax revenue to show for it.

Links:

Article about Mixed Use proposals on this mall










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