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New suburban malls have an urban feel; developer proposes the same for Dorchester

Proposed South Bay expansion in Dorchester

The owners of the existing South Bay big-box mall this week filed plans with the BRA for a 10-acre extension that would feature a hotel, a movie theater, restaurants and shops in the sort of urbanish outdoor ambiance city dwellers now have to drive to Dedham or Foxboro to experience.

In its project notification form, Edens says its South Bay Town Center will replace a concrete plant, the former 88 supermarket, a closed office building and a vacant warehouse with 475 apartments or condos - 61 of them marketed as affordable - a 12-screen cineplex, a 130-room hotel and room enough for the sort of boutiques and restaurants one doesn't associate with the current South Bay mall. It would sit next to the existing South Bay mall.

South Bay Town Center would come with 1,066 parking spaces. But unlike at Legacy Place in Dedham, which consists of stores clustered around a large parking lot, most of the spaces at South Bay Town Center would be "tucked away from view in structures." Sidewalks would connect the mall to Newmarket station on the Fairmount Line and Andrew station on the Red Line.

South Bay Town Center

In its filing, Edens explains its concept:

The Project entails the redevelopment of a series of under-utilized parcels into a vibrant, transit-oriented, mixed-use neighborhood that could catalyze future development in its surrounding context and provide walkable amenities for adjacent residential neighborhoods. ... The Proponent and the Project Team recognize the intimate relationship between successful retail and quality public space, enhanced by texture and scale oriented toward the pedestrian. The Project represents a departure from the existing suburban-style shopping center at the existing South Bay Center, with the implementation of a new, urban street grid, pedestrian orientation, mixed land uses, structured parking, and acute attention to the details of dynamic public space.

The Project Team aspires to introduce an exciting urban context influenced by the rich character and heritage of Dorchester- a destination that is new and vibrant, yet an extension of the fabric surrounding it; a place with authenticity and local essence, where residents and visitors alike comingle in a comfortable and energized atmosphere. The Proponent's efforts to thoughtfully merchandise through the selection and location of retail tenants, artisans, and dining concepts, to program both interior and exterior spaces, to artfully integrate materiality and landscaping, and to conceive events engaging the community, promise to create a lively public environment. The urban streetscape and public space create the heart of the Project, harboring activity, outdoor dining, and human interaction. Sidewalks are lined with transparent storefronts of designs unique to each retailer, thus ensuring visually compelling promenades. The social, cultural, and economic activity engendered by the project can provide an impetus for positive change to abutting, antiquated commercial and industrial properties, helping to provide a bright future for Dorchester and the City of Boston.

Complete project notification form (26M PDF).

Ed. note: Nothing against Edens or its architect, ADD, but one thing I've noticed over the past year is that when architectural renderings filed with the BRA have people in them, they tend to be like 99% or 100% white people - even for projects in Roxbury or, in this case, Dorchester. Given that people of color now make up the majority of Boston residents, that just seems kind of odd:

South Bay Town Center
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Comments

The people in the renderings are stock entourage. Blame the software company that supplies the architects for not giving them options.

Seems like this will be Boston's version of Assembly Square?

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The Project Team aspires to introduce an exciting urban context influenced by the rich character and heritage of Dorchester- a destination that is new and vibrant, yet an extension of the fabric surrounding it; a place with authenticity and local essence, where residents and visitors alike comingle in a comfortable and energized atmosphere.

What a crock of poo. I wonder how much these marketing weasels get paid for this kind of stuff.

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If you can do it better, step up, put it a lower bid, and get it done.

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Do better? Low bid? Get the job done? What in the world are you talking about?

My criticism, in case you didn't get it, is regarding the marketing BS, not the actual project. And that quote is a whole lot of marketing BS.

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How can you not marvel at how its just layered on, deeper and deeper?

...vibrant, transit-oriented, mixed-use neighborhood that could catalyze future development in its surrounding context and provide walkable amenities for adjacent residential neighborhoods.

If a developer can build buildings half as well as poo, they deserve a green light.

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...is over the top, but that's how a project like this gets made, by exciting people. But what is really wrong with that. Yes, it might eventually help gentrify the neighborhood - that's what it means and it's not hidden too deep. This is an area that I don't even think the residents would object to a little development and gentrification. How many plumbing supply stores and auto body shops does one neighborhood need anyway?

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They provide employment and provide necessary products and services. How many do we need? Plenty.

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You're right. A city doesn't need any auto-body shops or plumbing supply stores. We should be all boutiques and bistros.

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Out off all things in the area you mention "too much plumbing stores and auto body shops"? Those places are actually doing some good to the neighborhood how about trying to tackle liquor stores on every corner which keeps the alcoholics and the homeless population hovering around the area or let's talk about how many police details will be in the area to prevent the high crime Dorchester sees every year or even cleaning up the area of BMC where you see all the drug addicts hanging out at to make the area feel safe? Plumbing and auto body shops ARE YOU SERIOUS?

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Actually, people living in Boston go downtown for the movie theater and now Assembly ....and yes, Dedham or South Shore mall for shopping ....who drives to Foxboro! ...this would actually be great but I'm sick of the BRA

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Drive, or Orange Line?

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If you're near it, but if you're in Sommerville / Cambridge etc, then you're probably driving.

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not going.

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Haven't been there yet, but there is an Orange Line stop: Assembly Station:

http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/subway/lines/stations/?stopId=267...

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Outdoor seating and picnic tables shades by umbrellas and trees. At last -a comfortable place for the druggies, homeless, day laborers, and the squeegee guys to hang out. Nice.

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For better or for worse, private property owners have a lot more control over who sits on their benches than city governments do.

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Isn't it private property now? All of the above hang out at South Bay daily.

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Exactly why this redo is in order. Development is marching on and thank fully Dorchester is benefitting. Good luck to the developers.

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My apologies if the post was unclear, but this is in addition to the big-box mall, not a replacement for it.

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It should really be designed with guard towers, lots of razor wire and no amenities whatever, because that is the kind of shopping experience people crave.

It isn't like the owners and tenants will have security and grounds staff or anything. And we well know that putting such finery near any place where some of the people might not be white is a huge mistake.

Those people should be limited to rummaging through salvage lot goods in dank 50 year old warehouses under the watchful eye of clerks armed with Glocks only after they submit to a full body search as a condition for admittance.

One can't be too careful!!!

https://youtu.be/1xIQmFk1ok0

https://youtu.be/uLKXITefgYk.

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"It should really be designed with guard towers, lots of razor wire"

I get the sarcasm, but that description made me think of the old Lafayette Place mall in DTX back in the 80s. It was a blank, windowless fortress designed to keep out the Combat Zone, which was still a thing, albeit a dying one, at the time. It was dark, shadowy and circular inside. The whole thing was just a mess and it didn't last long. The carcass of it is still there.

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Isn't it now the Hyatt Regency ?

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Its Lafayette Corporate Center, the Hyatt Regency, and Markley now.

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I'd like to think your being sarcastic but considering the South Bay parking lot is like driving in a Mad Max movie maybe not?

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For a truly unique shopping experience, try our new "Stalag 17 Mall."

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I've never seen a "squeegee guy" in Boston. Where are you seeing them? This seems like something you got from a movie rather than from real life.

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Hadn't seen one until two weekends ago, but can confirm that we now have a squeegee guy. On Mass Ave as you wait to make the left to 93.

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There's one at Everett Square about 50% of the time that I drive through.

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There's always a squeegee guy at Melnea Cass. Your windows are getting washed, whether you like it or not.

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As the other commenters have said, Mass & Cass. Not every day, but most often if you are going southbound on Mass towards the highway ramps.

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there is a squeegee guy. He does ask if people want their windows cleaned before doing it, though.

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Getting rid of the demolition derby parking lot will be nice.

Also making it easier to get to the shopping center from Andrew Station and back will be good.

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Isn't there a free shuttle from Andrew to South Bay? It used to stop in front of Target.

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I have no clue what its schedule is though. It needs to be easier to use. Getting it now, if I'm not mistaken, is kind of a crapshoot.

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In more ways than one- the two times I took that shuttle (it's been a few years) the drivers were talking continuously on their hand held cellphones for the entire trip. And the shuttle interior was quite a bit below MBTA standard conditions.

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I think it's supposed to run every 20 minutes, but it tends to just show up whenever the hell it feels like it. And if you're lucky enough, it'll actually pick up passengers and go - if you're not so lucky (which is more often), it'll park on the bus lane for an unspecified break. It's basically a useless service.

The 10 and 16 buses also go to South Bay (though you have to make sure you get on the 10 to Copley Sq, not City Place, and that the 16 bus actually says "South Bay" - not the ones that say UMASS or simply Forest Hills) - they aren't always on schedule either, but they tend to be much more reliable than the shuttle, IMO.

The walk from Andrew isn't all that bad either (if that's a viable option).

But yes, the shuttle service should be much much much better than it is. It would be great if this new building project also made that a priority.

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They still run!

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Fast, good, cheap: pick one.

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the existing center stays mostly the same, this is all on newly acquired land to the SE.

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The main South Bay parking lot is staying - this is for the site south of it.

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Which is fine I guess, but seems kind of weird given the newer tradition of making these sorts of photos multicultural, usually on the extreme end (college brochure people).

Edit: I didn't even see Adam's note, looks like I'm not the only one but this one was obvious.

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South Bay is a very multicultural shopping space, as are the surrounding neighborhoods, and I sincerely doubt that it will be a much different group wandering into this new neotrad "collection".

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And sure enough, I was drawn to the drawing that accompanied their article of the proposed General Heath Square Apartments in JP/Mission Hill. Less people, yes, but seemingly more diverse.

It be a cynic, perhaps people of different races and ethnicities are expected to live places, but not shop places.

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They don't need a 10 acre expansion, they can do this much better by demolishing what's already there and incorporating that land into a more thoughtfully designed urban shopping destination. Make the Target like City Target at Fenway, and the same model can be used for the other big box stores. Housing above, parking under, and improve access to Andrew Station. What is there now so completely under utilizes the space it occupies. Also, it's a pit and I hate going there.

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I wonder if a multi-story target would be easier or more difficult to monitor for shrink than the pit that's there now.

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        Surely, they're not relying on the Silver Line or the once-an-hour Fairmount Line.

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South Bay is nowhere near the Silver Line. It is, however, right across 93 from Andrew on the Red Line, which the PNF says will be connected to it for pedestrians.

Also, commuter rail most definitely counts. Look at all the TOD going in out in CR land.

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Bus #s 8, 10, and 16 also go through.

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You can build an apartment building near a once-an-hour commuter rail line, and call it transit-oriented or whatever you want, but that won't make it a neighborhood that has convenient transit access.

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It has access to quite a few bus routes, a (zone 1a) commuter rail train that is 5-8 minutes to south station (at that), and a red line stop. And, eventually, the Fairmont line will become rapid transit anyways.

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"And, eventually, the Fairmont line will become rapid transit anyways"

Not if the Governor has anything to say about it

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South Bay is right next to both Andrew Station...

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The existing bridges aren't too bad, the main inconvenience is that you have to cross Southampton St to get to the plaza but that's a fundamental issue from how Andrew Square is laid out. A pedestrian bridge wouldn't accomplish much more.

Although looking at the plans posted above, they're putting this in where the Kam Man supermarket was, which is the far side from the train station. That's annoying.

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I looked through a fair piece of the plan, and other than the walkway to Newmarket, that's it.

That said, as one who walked from Andrew to Edward Everett Squares from time to time as a child, the walk over the Expressway is not onerous. And there are the buses, to boot.

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means the developer doesn't have to build parking and can spend mordant money on making this property more dense just like Calcutta.

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No.

Extreme exaggeration, much?

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I just talked to my friend Shirley and she said large-scale development was impossible in Boston without the Olympics.

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This count as "large scale"?

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Ten acres is large.

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Site plan:
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/Zt0NjBl.jpg)

Massing:
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/jkpEPa9.jpg)

Plans:
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/a308OFp.jpg)
IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/upxX737.jpg)

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I was excited to read about this project. That is until i saw the plans you posted.

To maximize the pedestrian potential of South Bay the new buildings should be placed closer to the Newmarket T stop. Instead they are planned for the opposite side of the site, and across the parking lot.

The south bay parking lot is one of the most God awful places in Boston. It is poorly planned, and the patrons don't observe basic driving rules. Adding more pedestrians to navigate walking across that parking lot to reach mass transits is a recipe for disaster

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A vital need at South Bay is being easy for drivers to come off I-93 and quickly and easily park to shop. Then leave easily too. The bomb threat at Ikea showed the traffic jams that occur getting out of a parking lot, but not a building. If buildings can be designed to be easy to exit, why not parking lots?

People hate getting stuck in traffic in parking lots and the hidden parking design seems to worsen that problem. Having a shopping mall be at the offramp for an interstate highway is wasted when the parking lot is made to be a bottleneck. Sure, design it to be safe, but also try to make it efficient. Must the two be mutually exclusive?

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and hail the mighty automobile.

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If I do have to drive to a shopping center, I'd really rather not get stuck in an unnecessary traffic jam due to poorly designed parking lots. I'd also rather not walk in such a place. Unfortunately this was my experience at Legacy Place in Dedham.

Of course, I'd rather not drive to a shopping center in the first place.

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How much can you carry in your arms or on a bike all the way home after an afternoon of shopping?

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With a bike: A sound system, soda stream, 60 bucks worth of groceries, charcoal, soil, Nintendo wii, and more... which i have done all the time and will continue to do. Also see: cargo bike.

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As in half pound of artisanal cheese, half pound of free-range cruelty free chicken, half loaf of 100 grain bread, crunchy granola bar and a bottle of kombucha?

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It is possible to load about 40 lbs on a typical rear rack in substantial panniers, more if you have a front rack. I recently made a run to the Asian Supermarket and came home with ten pounds of potatoes, five pounds of onions, four cans of coconut milk, noodles, dumplings, three pounds of sweet potatoes, a pound of ginger, broccoli, scallions, string beans, two six packs of soy milk, tofu, a quart each of chili sauce and soy sauce.

This totally filled my two smaller volume panniers (size of a Trader Joe's grocery bag) and cost me about $35 with the HiChew treats for bribing teens into hard yard work.

These same bags will also hold two growlers and a bottle of wine - each.

Bob trailer or a Burley baby trailer? Groceries for a family of four for a week or six adults at a rental house on Martha's Vineyard. Been there, done that.

For pedestrians, there are folding grocery carts.

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I've carried a palm tree home from Home Depot. I have a friend, a wheelchair user, that's carried 50 lb bags of concrete home. It's not hard to shop without a car.

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once brought a full-out sofa on a B line train in college.

I have no idea how they got away with it, but they had the most comfy seats on the train.

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Why do they plan to put a two lane street down the main shopping area? They do that at Assembly and its really annoying. Looking at the render: who wants to eat on a patio when a car is whizzing past you just a few feet away? There is no need for cars there. There is already a parking lot and loading is done on the other side of the building.

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Maybe because we're hungry

Looking at the render: who wants to eat on a patio when a car is whizzing past you just a few feet away?

I JUST had a good bye lunch with a coworker at Trade on their patio which is pretty much Atlantic Ave. Noisy yes, but the greenway and sculpture was great to look at.

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Cars occupy vastly more space than people, even when stationary. A standard parking space is 330 square feet, and lots require twice that amount to permit movement of cars between spaces. The area required by a car increases rapidly as it is put in motion, until it requires ten times as much. A car traveling at 60 MPH, with a 3 second follow distance in a standard 12' wide lane, requires 3,357 square feet (including average 2015 car length of 15.75').

In contrast, a person requires about four square feet, and that does not increase tenfold when the person is put in motion. A mass of moving people can occupy less than four square feet per person, though it won't be comfortable.

Parking lots can be easy to exit rapidly for multiple people; they cannot be easy to exit rapidly for multiple cars. Even without a toll gate or with multiple exits, or ideal internal flow design, the car exit rate from a lot is ultimately limited by the carrying capacity of the access road. It would be perfectly normal to expect car-based evacuation of a large parking lot onto an access road to take an hour. This means that any building evacuated because of an immediate threat should be evacuated on foot.

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"Dorchester- a destination that is new and vibrant, yet an extension of the fabric surrounding it; a place with authenticity and local essence."

- Does that mean it will have multiple liquor stores and Dunkin Donuts?

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Whoa, there's a lot to like in this proposal.

Reminds me of the Wellington Circle development. Only criticism there is that the interior streets are too narrow.

We'll see more and more of this type of development, if the economy stays as strong as it is. "Periphery" multi-use, dense, urban, transit-oriented projects. The economics of building "near" the "city" have made them work, financially.

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Are they making any effort to redesign the roadways to reduce the awful delays faced by the MBTA buses that pass through the property?

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I'd love it if they just demolished the whole of South Bay and started from scratch. I live in the SE/Roxbury and loath going there as it currently is.

I believe there are plans to put an apartment complex along the Newmarket CR stop. Good to see some new development in that area.

Though I'll be curious to see what this does to Newmarket as a whole as it becomes more residential.

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Or a private development? Will all the stores have the same landlord in this "town center?" (At least they didn't spell town with an "e.") Can undesirables on the sidewalk be told to leave because they are trespassing in this "urban context?" What percentage of the stores will be national chains?

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I agree. These stock images just don't cut it for a South Bay project. It projects an impression that the project is to bring people from outside the neighborhood to the mall. I shop there, and it is a mix of people, and they should try to make their vision of this project reflect that diversity. A white dominated piece of software should not set the tone of this project, not in today's Boston.

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Wait, this developer wants to build *even more parking* at South Bay? The existing lot barely even fills halfway on a Saturday afternoon!

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I was hoping for a Walmart store so I don't have to go all the way to Walpole or Quincy.

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