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Top 10 Retail Center Experiences: No. 7 Chestnut Hill Square

Daybreaker continues its countdown of the Top 10 Retail Center Experiences named in the July-August edition of Chain Store Age.

In the 1980s, New England Development president Stephen Plumeri had an idea that the affluent crowd in Chestnut Hill would flock to a retail palace anchored by Henri Bendel, lined with marble, and staffed with doormen. They didn’t. The Atrium got sold to Simon, which eventually sold it and introduced a more classic Simon execution called The Shops at Chestnut Hill.

“There’s an attitude that says focus on fashion and deliver all the brands that she needs, but that’s not the case anymore,” says current NED leasing VP Manny Steiner. “At Chestnut Hill Square, we started listening to what people wanted.”
Among the residents of Chestnut Hill are many of the physicians and medical executives who work at Boston’s world-class hospitals. It was decided, then, that the centerpiece of Chestnut Hill Square should be a 60,000-sq.-ft. medical office building.

From there grew a necessity-based center for the well-to-do in about 175,000 sq. ft. of retail GLA. NED installed a Wegman’s anchor and was soon followed by tenants like Francesca’s, Soulcycle, The Capital Grille, European Wax Center, Athleta, and Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery Associates.

“Does it have to be fashion? No. It can be financial services, the eyeglass retailer, wellness,” Steiner said. “We made some mistakes, but we learned: Don’t think about what you think they should have, listen to what they need and adjust.”

Stay tuned for daily profiles of the next three centers. Until then, catch up on what you missed:

No. 1 Easton Town Center
No. 2 Northpark Center
No. 3 Avalon
No. 4 Westfield Garden State Plaza
No. 5 Mall of America
No. 6 Destiny USA
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