One of just two new major shopping centers in the U.S. this year is now open on Route 1 in Dedham.
It’s a recession-era rarity liable to make drivers on Providence Highway do a double-take: the opening of a major shopping center. Legacy Place is just one of two major retail centers opening in the U.S. this year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. The number of new major retail center openings declined from 10 in 2007 to seven in 2008.
The 675,000-square-foot Dedham property is 93-percent leased, an impressive achievement given the retail sector’s woes. Anchor stores include Whole Foods Market, L.L. Bean, Borders and National Amusements’ Cinema de Lux.
“We weren’t going for something that was extremely upscale,” said David Fleming, marketing director of owner WS Development of Newton. “In this economy, we were looking for tenants that sold quality merchandise, but were approachable and a reasonable price point.”
WS Development secured most of the leases before the recession crippled many retailers’ store expansions. Only a handful of tenants, such as Benihana’s new RA Sushi Bar concept, backed out.
Legacy Place is opening on a gradual basis through next spring. Ten stores are now open, and about 45 percent of the tenants will be in business by the end of August, Fleming said.
A new Whole Foods Market store opens Sept. 2. The 60,000-square-foot store will be the Austin, Texas-based organic grocer’s largest in New England, and it will include a 225-seat cafe.
WS Development reached out to some local companies to fill key storefronts. Burger bar B. Good, which has four locations in the Boston area, will open its fifth store at Legacy Place.
Betty Riaz, owner of the Stil boutiques in Boston and Newton, will bring a yoga-influenced concept to Dedham.
San Francisco-based Williams-Sonoma, another new lessee, committed to Dedham after closing its store at Braintree’s South Shore Plaza in February.
Legacy Place will contain about 10 restaurants, the first of which, Asian bistro P.F. Chang’s, opened last week. Many of the eateries will have outdoor seating.
Boston nightclub bigwig Patrick Lyons has signed a lease and is considering an Irish-themed pub for the location.
Construction continued at the site this week even as shoppers explored the first stores. Open-air lifestyle centers cost more to build than traditional strip malls because they use more expensive building materials and extensive landscaping. More than 4,000 trees, shrubs and plants dot the 38-acre parcel.
Cambridge architectural firm Prellwitz Chilinski Associates designed storefronts with varying heights and different materials from brick to cast stone, to give the center the look of a neighborhood that grew over time. In fact, construction has taken just a year-and-a-half.
The center has parking for 2,800 vehicles, including 1,940 that are contained in a three-story garage above a row of storefronts.
WS Development built Legacy Place in a partnership with theater chain National Amusements, whose headquarters had been located on the site, which is near Route 128. National Amusements moved its headquarters operation to Norwood last year.
A 15-screen Cinema de Lux, National Amusements’ high-end theater concept that includes stadium seating and restaurants, will open Aug. 28 at Legacy Place.
Steve Adams may be reached at email@example.com.