The Northtown Plaza on Sheridan Drive, Amherst has only two tenants left - and one of those is moving out in December. Its plight is a reflection of how shopping trends have changed through the years as more people opted for online buying.
However, Northtown Plaza will soon see a transformation as it is turned into an "open-air lifestyle center."
WS Development from Massachusetts, which has created lifestyle centers in other areas of the country, is leading the effort with assistance from the Town of Amherst.
Under the proposed plans for Northtown, the existing buildings (not including a currently occupied bank building) on the west-end of the property will be demolished to make way for six new buildings and a greenspace area.
The plan is to use a combination of shopping, dinning, entertainment and outdoor activities to make Northtown a destination that will attract people for several hours.
WS Development already opened the Whole Foods Market on the site of the former Bon-Ton Store approximately six weeks ago.
According to Senior VP of Leasing, Brian Sciera, the Northtown development will create an estimated 1,000 jobs. "People will come in the morning for a workout and a cup of coffee, then come back later in the day for a pair of jeans and groceries," said Sciera.
Final details are being worked out with Amherst on issues such as set-back, windows, parking spaces, and greenspace.
Several big-name retailers have signed-on for the project including L.L Bean, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, West Elm, and B.Good.
Construction of the new lifestyle center is hoped to be underway by 2019.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.