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By Stanley Hurwitz
December 2003

Phase I To Bring 400,000 s/f Retail, 1,000 Jobs to Reading Area
The Crossing at Walkers Brook: Phase I on Target for Fall 2004 Opening

DECEMBER 2003 — Muddy mounds of topsoil are being compressed with giant rollers. Mammoth steel girders are eased 80 feet into the sky and welded in place. While it may not look it today, in less than a year this moonscape will be home to some of the region’s best-known retail names.

Dickinson Development Corp. of Quincy, developers of The Crossing at Walkers Brook on Route 128 / 95 in Reading (Mass.), announced this week that several key milestones have been achieved — or will be — by December 31, and Phase I of the $80 million development on 33.5 acres is on track for a Fall 2004 opening. “The region’s demographics, easy highway access, and proximity to Boston promise to make this an exciting ‘lifestyle’ retail destination,” says Dickinson Development President Mark Dickinson.

Phase I calls for a 140,000 square-foot Home Depot, a 260,000 square-foot Jordan’s Furniture store, which includes a 450-seat IMAX Theater, and a 217-seat Chili’s Restaurant. The 70,000 square-foot Phase II, slated for completion by the end of 2004, will accommodate several more retailers and restaurants.

Dickinson Vice President Ed Shaw notes the following milestones:

  • 1,400 foundation piles have been driven to support the Home Depot and Jordan’s
  • The steel frame is well on its way to meeting the December 31 target date
  • Near-completion of innovative retaining walls to allow two-level development
  • Completion of landfill cap including pavement in Home Deport parking lot
  • Completion of significant adjacent road improvements made possible by a $1.8 million Public Works grant from the state to mitigate traffic impacts

Shaw says that construction of the outer ‘envelope’ made of pre-cast concrete and glass will proceed throughout winter.

“Because The Crossing at Walkers Brook sits on a former landfill,” Shaw says, “the project offers several challenges to our development team, including significant geotechnical and environmental hurdles.” A public-private arrangement saw local, state and federal agencies working closely with the Dickinson team. As part of its agreement with the town, Dickinson closed and capped the landfill, thus saving the town about $3 million.

Dickinson also paid $3 million for the site to the town of Reading. Mark Dickinson adds, “Our team has been working closely with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Reading officials for three years in order to gain necessary approvals related to landfill capping and the preservation of Walkers Brook, which will add to the rustic beauty we hope to bring back to the site which had served as the town’s landfill until 25 years ago.” The brook runs on three sides of the site.

Dickinson’s project team includes: project partner Pinnacle Partners; construction consultants Pinnconn, Inc.; Phase I contractor Suffolk Construction; architects Carter-Burgess; and engineering firms Haley & Aldrich, VHB, Inc., and Dufresne-Henry.

In all, the project will create about 400 construction jobs and some 1,000 new jobs once the tenants are open for business. It will bring an estimated $750,000 annually to the town of Reading in new property taxes, plus untold millions in sales and income tax revenue to the Commonwealth.

Founded in 1980, Dickinson Development Corp. 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. (For more information, contact Ed Shaw or Mark Dickinson: 617-770-1955). Leasing is being handled by The Wilder Companies of Boston.

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