One of the great pleasures of living in a city is that you can walk to shops and restaurants. I am a two-five minute walk from a grocery store, hardware store, drug store, cobbler, the Post Office, and a half-dozen restaurants. Not to mention a lot of other stuff: gift stores, florists, CVS, liquor store, 7/11, bakeries....
And I'm about a ten minute walk from Filene's Basement, Borders, Macy's, Lord and Taylor and a whole bunch other stores.
So I get why people want to live near stores.
And, of course, with city life you get a whole lot of extras: theaters, parks, urban street life, dynamism, and - if you're lucky enough to live in Boston - Fenway Park. (There are few urban experiences that compare to the walk home from Fenway after a Red Sox win.)
As I said, I get why people want to live near stores.
But I really don't get why someone wants to live near a suburban shopping mall.
Apparently, however, there are folks who are heeding the call, and are scooping up luxury condos that are tacked on to the Natick Mall. (This was reported in a recent Boston Globe article by Sarah Schweitzer.)
The condos, on the site of a defunct Wonder Bread factory [NO COMMENT], are part of a development called Nouvelle Natick. Living there, you're right on top of Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom's, and the Cheesecake Factory. Gives new meaning to living over the store, doesn't it?
The suburbs, according to Nouvelle at Natick's marketers, are places where traffic, parking woes, and other city hassles are practically nonexistent. And some buyers see in the mall development all the glitter that city living offers.
"I have lived in the Back Bay, and it was very collegiate, very busy and noisy. It just wasn't San Francisco," said Donna Niles, a director of creative services for a fragrance company in her 30s who once lived on the West Coast and is now is mulling the purchase of a Nouvelle at Natick unit. "I think living at the mall would have a little more of that feeling."
Earth to Donna: I really don't think living in a mall is going to feel like San Francisco. LA, maybe. But San Fran?
She also expects to find like-minded people.
"I am sick of Faneuil Hall and the bars there. I am buying Manolo Blahniks," she said, referring to a brand of shoes that costs hundreds of dollars. "I don't like beer being tossed on them. That's not my idea of fun anymore. And that's the part of Boston that's missing. It's nice for the college students and the twentysomethings. But for the thirtysomethings and fortysomethings it starts to get, like, where do you go? You want to hang out with a different caliber of people."
And Boston to Donna: There are adults in Boston. Thirty-somethings. Forty-somethings. Even - gasp - fifty- and sixty-somethings. Who are a different caliber of people than the folks tossing back brews and leering at waitresses at The Rack. Although, in truth, if you're looking for fellow Manolo wearers, you are probably best to forego the bricks on Beach Hill for the faux-whatever at Nouvelle of Natick.
One of the couples who've just bought into Nouvelle have businesses in Hudson, a former mill town in Central Massachusetts. I understand why they might not find Hudson quite, well, nouvelle for them. Especially if they view shopping as a way of life.
"It's a little scary living above a mall," Kellie DuGally said. "I told Michael that he'd have to get a second job."
"We both love shopping," Michael DuGally said. "So why not live someplace where there is so much stuff accessible?"
"So much stuff accessible." If ever there was a motto for the American Way of Life in the early 21st century.
Michael DuGally had more to say:
He added, "It's like getting the Newbury Street experience, without having to fight for parking."
Okay, Michael, I'll give you the "fight for parking."
But "it's like getting the Newbury Street experience."
No, it's not.