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Mar 27, 2017

N2 Corridor Is Ready For Its Next Act

Northland, Normandy Have Big Plans For District


In Newton, the city of 13 villages, Northland Investment Corp. is drawing up plans to build a 14th virtually from scratch.

The Newton-based development firm spent over a decade assembling the 28-acre site on the edge of the Upper Falls neighborhood. With the recent departure of shoe manufacturer Clarks North America’s offices to a build-to-suit headquarters in Waltham, Northland’s large-scale redevelopment plans call for contemporary office space, stores and restaurants and nearly 1,000 multifamily units.

In Needham, Normandy Real Estate Partners is set to begin the next act in its redevelopment of a post-war industrial park. After landing the TripAdvisor headquarters as its marquee corporate presence

in 2013, the next phase will include a new hotel and renovated office buildings. Toll Brothers has begun construction of a 390-unit apartment complex, while appliance-maker SharkNinja is set to relocate June 1 from Newton to a renovated former General Dynamics R&D building within the 41-acre property recently renamed Founders Park.

“There’s been a constant renewal of uses out here,” said Jamie Nicholson, a senior vice president for Normandy. “We feel like we’re building the version 4.0, and that version is the most exciting.”

Both projects, economic development officials say, would help suburban communities compete with downtown addresses for office tenants by adding shops and housing within walking distance to workplaces. But public transit options remain limited, and developers are looking to expand and consolidate private shuttle services running from their properties to key MBTA stations.


Northland’s ‘Novel’ Blueprint For Upper Falls

Acquired by Northland in 2005, the Oak Street converted mill complex retains rustic details such as spindle columns and wood trusses, said Peter Standish, a senior vice president at Northland. Northland plans to market 175,000 square feet to small- and mid-sized office tenants looking for open format workspaces with brick-and-beam architecture, he said.

Up to 200,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space would be built in ground-floor spaces and freestanding buildings along a new street running through the heart of the site.

“The idea is to create a real Main Street with people living above the retail, and a central square as a venue for community activity,” Standish said. “We’re trying to create a mini-town. We came up with a design that we think is right for the site and a real novel change.”

The project requires zoning amendments subject to approval of Newton’s board of aldermen. A formal proposal is expected to be filed later this year.

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