Chelmsford Town Center Grand Opening
Smaller, more modern, a Chelmsford plaza revived
By Alana Melanson, email@example.com
CHELMSFORD — About five years ago, Chelmsford reeled with uncertainty as major retailers vacated the town center.
“We had known Stop & Shop was building out on Chelmsford Street,” Town Manager Paul Cohen said. “I think we assumed the place would get filled, but then when Marshalls left, we were alarmed — what was going to happen in Chelmsford Center?”
Tuesday, the town celebrated the transformation of the Boston Road plaza into Chelmsford Town Center, a vibrant lifestyle center bustling with restaurants and retail.
Developer Adam Winstanley, principal of Concord-based Winstanley Enterprises, said he realized the site’s potential as a destination the moment he saw it.
“That started a fairly long journey for our company to transform this asset into something really special,” he said.
Winstanley Enterprises purchased the 8.5-acre site for about $7 million in 2012 and began construction the following January.
The property had its challenges, Winstanley said. With online shopping transforming the retail industry, he said he knew he had to make it stand out.
Winstanley and his team chose to turn what was once a 65,000-square-foot building, reduce it to 41,000 square feet and make it more attractive, he said. They mixed materials, such as copper metal for the roof and fabric awnings, to put together a nontraditional look that would make a statement in the downtown, and culled a unique mix of tenants and entrepreneurs to fill each storefront, he said.
Choice Fitness, Loch Ness Play Center, Dunkin’ Donuts and Nobo Modern Japanese Restaurant and Bar were among the first retailers to open in the new plaza
Andiamo Restaurant + Bar, an Italian eatery, opened earlier this year, and A’gaci Nails and Spa opened about a month ago. Pita, a Greek fast-casual restaurant, celebrated its grand opening with the plaza Tuesday.
Fantastic Sams, a family-centered hair salon, was the most recent to sign on and will soon begin its build-out. Owner Dan Matthews of Woburn said he expects to open in December.
Winstanley said he is working with prospective tenants to fill the sole remaining 1,300-square-foot space in the center.
The company invested about $9 million in capital improvements, Winstanley said. Tenant retailers have invested another $5 million to $6 million, with Andiamo’s investments comprising about $1.8 million, he said.
“You were patient in the filling of the spaces. You also brought a high-quality development, and you brought destination locations,” Cohen said to Winstanley. “No community could want anything more than what you’ve done for us here.”
Thanks and congratulations were aplenty during the ceremony, which included Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Pat Wojtas, state Sen. Michael Barrett and state Reps. Cory Atkins, Jim Arciero, Tom Golden and Dave Nangle.
Chelmsford is creating a walkable and bikeable community that is crucial for an aging population and changing times, Barrett said. The trend of traveling long distances by car to shop and eat is fading in favor of a return to centrally located and easily accessible places, he said.
“This is part of the revival of Chelmsford center. This development leads the way,” Barrett said.
Attendees and representatives from all of the business tenants contributed a time capsule that included media coverage of the plaza to date. The capsule will be opened in 20 years.