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Chestnut Hill Shopping Center looks to add restaurants, new retail

Posted by Lisa Kocian  June 21, 2011 01:20 PM

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The developers of the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center, where Star Market and the AMC Theater are located, will present their plans in Newton tonight to renovate and expand part of the property.

More restaurants might be coming in, as well as potentially a new movie theater, according to Dick Marks, a partner with WS Development, who said he couldn’t yet reveal any details about specific tenants.

“There is tremendous restaurant interest in Chestnut Hill, and we are targeting some chef-driven restaurants,” said Marks.

He cited The Cottage, which just opened in recent weeks, as the type of restaurant they like to work with.

Marks described the existing AMC Theater as “a very tired theater space,” and said his company has “been talking to upscale movie houses about building a state-of-the-art movie theater.”

A new movie theater could go into the former Macy’s space, which is only a small part of the permit application that prompted tonight’s expected presentation before the Board of Aldermen’s Land Use Committee.

Developers are looking for “conceptual approval” of building and façade improvements for 55 Boylston Street (Route 9), where Macy’s was located until earlier this year. Much of the work planned there, which would open up the space to multiple tenants, does not need city approval.

The proposal calls for demolishing about 15,700 square feet of 33 Boylston Street and replacing it with just over 64,000 square feet, as the building goes from one story to three.

The spaces being torn down are where the Century Bank and City Sports are now located, according to Marks, and his company is in talks with both tenants to remain in the shopping center.

The new, taller building would be a home office for WS Development, which is now headquartered across the street and is the same company behind Legacy Place in Dedham. The company would occupy the new third floor. The new second floor could be home to either office or retail tenants, said Marks. And the first floor would be leased to the same type of tenants now in the shopping center.

Marks also highlighted plans to beautify the front of the center.

“It’s a project that in certain respects has its back to Boylston Street, and we’re going to turn it into a project that has it’s back on no one,” he said.

The special permit application also seeks to win a one-third reduction in required parking spaces, which would mean a waiver of 590 parking stalls, according to the memo written by Newton’s Department of Planning and Development to the Board of Aldermen.

Ted Hess-Mahan, chairman of the Aldermen’s Land Use Committee, said members won’t take a vote on the special permit tonight but will likely decide the matter in July.

“It’s a pretty exciting project,” he said. “This is really going to add to the vitality of the area.”

The Land Use Committee meeting starts tonight at 7 p.m., in the Aldermanic Chamber of Newton City Hall, 1000 Commonwealth Avenue.

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