March 12, 2015

Developer announces new tenants for former Spag's site, more to come

Courtesy of Grossman Development Group
Burton's Grill and Starbucks are the latest tenants to agree to lease space at Lakeway Commons, a retail development proposed for the old Spag's site in Shrewsbury. They join Whole Foods, shown in a rendering here, which is slated to open next summer.

The future of the old Spag's site on Route 9 in Shrewsbury is continuing to take shape, with two new tenants bolstering the "high end" feel that the proposed Lakeway Commons plaza brings to the neighborhood, said Jay Thomas, chairman of the Lakeway Business District Association.

News last summer that a Whole Foods supermarket would open at the site, which used to house discount department store Spag's at 193 Turnpike Rd., was the ignition for the Lakeway Commons project, Thomas said.

"Whole Foods is the draw, absolutely, for this project," said Thomas, owner of Thomas Auto Parts directly across the street. "… And it draws the demographic they're looking for."

That is, affluent people who now have to travel several miles east to reach high-end grocers like Whole Foods (the closest one is in Framingham) and Wegmans in Northborough.

Burton's, Starbucks get in on Lakeway

Whole Foods will have a little help drawing those shoppers to Shrewsbury, with Andover-based Burton's Grill and Starbucks becoming the latest tenants to lease space at Lakeway Commons. That's according to the developer of the plaza, Southborough-based Grossman Development Group., who announced the new tenants last week after receiving necessary approvals at a Special Town Meeting for traffic flow improvements.

"We are delighted to add Starbucks and Burton's Grill to the Lakeway Commons retail roster," Grossman Development President Howard Grossman said in a statement. "Both bring a unique food and beverage offering that will enhance Lakeway Commons as a prime area destination."

According to the statement, Grossman will be announcing more new tenants in the coming weeks, but more details weren't available by deadline Thursday morning.

Starbucks will occupy 2,000 square feet in a free-standing building adjacent to Whole Foods, which will anchor the plaza in a 50,000 square-foot retail space, according to Grossman spokeswoman Melissa Pride-Fahs, while Burton's will occupy 6,500 square feet in a building opposite Whole Foods. Pride-Fahs said in an email that the developer hopes to open the plaza by the summer of 2016.

To make way for the new development, Grossman will raze all existing buildings on the 20-acre Spag's site. All told, Grossman hopes to build 80,000 to 100,000 square feet of retail space, along with 250 apartments and 20 townhouse units.

Nostalgia tempered by disrepair

For locals like Thomas, the nostalgia they feel for the once vibrant Spag's parcel has waned as buildings have fallen into disrepair. The heavy foot traffic that Spag's generated for Thomas Auto Parts and other neighboring businesses began to dry up in the late 1990s, he said, as large chains began to chip away at the business. Eventually, Building 19 moved in, but it closed when the discount chain went bankrupt in 2013. There is still a small amount of retail activity inside the building.

These days, vandals are stealing metal out of the air-conditioning units on the roof, Thomas said. He said the site is a "shell" of what it once was. Now, Thomas is looking to Lakeway Commons for revival.

"In the old days, we used to say 'We're across the street from Spag's.' Now we can say we're across the street from Whole Foods," Thomas said.


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