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NORTHBOROUGH, MA-Northborough officials have given the green light to a one-million-sf, mixed-use project that will create an open-air shopping plaza with a Main Street-style town center at the junction of Route 9 and 20. Tom Wilder, a principal with the Wilder Cos. of Boston, which is developing the project with Brendon Properties of Southborough, tells GlobeSt.com that the Loop-Northborough will be the largest project of its type in the region. The project calls for 575,000 sf of retail, restaurant and entertainment space along with 350 residential units and offices set on a 157 acres.

“It’s a great market with solid demographics and high household incomes but it truly lacks a gathering place that combines the restaurants, the retail and the outdoor strolling environment that the Loop does,” Wilder says. The project won the unanimous approval of the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals Wednesday night.

Construction on the shopping center, which Wilder estimates will cost between $100 million and $150 million, will begin early next year with completion slated for early 2008. Wilder says the retail mix will include a number of national retailers similar to those at other Loop projects in Orlando and Methuen, MA, like Kohls, Old Navy and Ann Taylor Loft.

“We’ll be filling the void with retailers who haven’t been in the market but we’re also attracting retailers who are in the market but want to be part of the critical mass we’re creating,” he says. An announcement on exactly who those retailers will be won’t be made for another three to six months, however.

The project will combine a streetscape-style shopping mall with outdoor cafes, walking paths, a pond and a children’s play area all set in a village atmosphere. A residential community comprised of 350 units will be built by AvalonBay Communities Inc. of Alexandria, VA and an office component and perhaps a movie theater may be added in the future, he says.

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