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By Stanley Hurwitz
August 2005

Eight Blue-Ribbon Tenants
'Open for Business'
No Vacancy: Phase II of Reading's Crossing
at Walkers Brook is 100% Leased

READING, MASS. — By Labor Day, all eight new retail units — a total of 70,000 square feet comprising Phase II of The Crossing at Walkers Brook — will be open for business. And the tenant roster reads like a retailer’s ‘Who’s Who.’

The Crossing at Walkers Brook, a $90 million, 33.5-acre lifestyle shopping center just off Route 128 / 95 in Reading (Mass.), anchored by Home Depot and Jordan’s Furniture, was developed by Dickinson Development Corp. of Quincy (Mass.). “Not only are we 100% leased, but all are 100% blue-ribbon tenants,” said Dickinson President Mark Dickinson. “It took a lot of advance planning, a good tenant mix, an excellent team, a great public-private relationship, and hard work by our broker to reach this milestone.”

The eight tenants are (opened during July): Staples, Starbucks, Bear Rock Café bakery and coffee house, Linens ‘n Things, and a branch of Bank of America; (opening in August): The Paper Store and Verizon; and (opening by Labor Day): Romano’s Macaroni Grill Italian restaurant. This is Bear Rock Café’s second shop in Massachusetts. The Paper Store operates 20 Hallmark Gold Crown stores in Greater Boston. Romano’s is a division of Brinker International which operates over 1,500 restaurants under several names.

Mark Dickinson noted that most tenants signed letters of intent even before ground was broken, and credited Andy LaGrega’s leasing team at The Wilder Companies, a national retail real estate company specializing in merchandising of shopping centers. LaGrega, Wilder Cos. partner and Senior Vice President for Leasing, said, “The project is a tribute to Mark’s vision. Having two category killers — Home Depot and Jordan’s — as anchors creates a great mousetrap, an incentive that brings shoppers to a specialty center with the right mix. It’s an ideal location on Route 95 in an area with great density and demographics.”

Dickinson commended general contractor and project partner Bill O’Brien, President of Pinncon, Inc.: “They delivered the building on budget and ahead of schedule despite a difficult winter.”

Over a five-year period, before the first shovel touched the ground, the development team led by Dickinson and Vice President Ed Shaw, hammered out details of the complex project that sits atop a former town landfill. In the fall of 2004, Phase I — consisting of Home Depot and Jordan’s Furniture — opened to rave reviews. The two retail giants share a common footprint. Home Depot consists of 140,000 square feet and Jordan’s Furniture comprises 260,000 square feet including an IMAX theater. An adjacent Chili’s Restaurant opened in September, 2004, to complete Phase I.

Ed Shaw said, “Because the site is a former landfill, the topography forced engineers and architects to overcome significant geotechnical and environmental hurdles, and to employ a unique vertical-box design.” A public-private consortium including local and state agencies worked with the Dickinson team which closed and capped the landfill, saving the town about $4-$5 million. Dickinson paid $3 million for the site to the town of Reading, and worked closely with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. Adjacent road improvements were made possible by a $1.8 million Public Works Economic Development grant (PWED) from the state.

It is estimated that The Crossing at Walkers Brook will bring about $750,000 annually in new property taxes to the town plus millions in sales and income tax revenue to the Commonwealth. In addition to 1,000 construction jobs created during construction, about 1,000 full and part-time jobs will be created on the site.

Dickinson’s development team includes: project partner Pinnacle Partners; construction consultants and contractor Pinncon, Inc.; architects Carter-Burgess; and engineering firms Haley & Aldrich, VHB, Inc., and Dufresne-Henry. Morris & Morse Co, Inc., of Boston served as financial advisor to Dickinson. Leasing was handled by The Wilder Companies.

Founded in 1980, Dickinson Development Corporation is a commercial real estate development company that has developed over three million square feet of office, retail and industrial space and hotels in New England and Florida. The company is seeking similar development opportunities in southern New England. (For more information, contact Ed Shaw or Mark Dickinson: 617-770-1955 or visit www.dickinsondev.com).

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