Sept 15, Wayside Commons

When I was working in Burlington, at my previous job, there was a big construction project going on across the street. First they were demolishing a big industrial building over there, with cranes and power shovels and wrecking balls. Then there was a period of blasting. When you heard the five minute warning whistle you could walk over to the other end of our building and watch at the windows closest to the site. A few times you would see the big steel mats rise in the air when the blast went off. They were starting to pour concrete about the time I left that job.
Eventually I found out that there was going to be a classy shopping complex going up over there. I’ve been wanting to see how it came out. Arlene recently saw an ad from West Elm that said, “Now open in Wayside Commons, Burlington.” That’s the place!

We drive past that exit (exit 33 from I-95/route 128) on our way to Maine. We got a slightly earlier than usual start last Friday and drove in to take a look.

Men with flashlights were waving cars into the parking lot. It was packed. We had stumbled onto the grand opening of the L. L. Bean store. We looked in it, almost bought a pair of wheels for a canoe but the checkout lines were longer than we wanted to deal with, and went up the escalator and out the other side of the store to the upper level parking lot. I guess (though I wasn’t thinking of it at the time) that some of that blasting had carved out the right rear of the first floor of Bean’s!

I have to say, that’s probably the most attractive shopping mall parking area I’ve ever seen. It’s not all parking lot; they saved a lot of space for wide walkways (raised, with curbs to keep the cars away from the stores), gardens, park benches, and trees. It’s small enough that you can walk from one end of the mall to the other, as contrasted with a shopping area in Braintree where there’s a Babies ‘R’ Us, a Big Buy, and a Linens ‘n’ Things (and a couple of others of that ilk) in a row, so far apart that if you want to shop at more than one store you want to drive from one to the next.

We walked down to West Elm, looked around inside it and found out that they and Bean’s had been open for about three weeks (though it was a grand opening, it wasn’t the first day for Bean’s), and felt that we were tourists in a new shopping center. If this kind of design is the wave of the future, I’m for it.

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