Get a sneak peek of the new Wegmans in Westwood

(October 8, 2015 - Boston Business Journal)  Every hour, on the hour, wooden barn doors spring open, a rooster crows and a beam of sunshine lights up a mural of rolling green hills at the front of the gleaming new Wegmans location in Westwood.

The rooster crowing is music to Jo Natale's ears.

"It's terribly exciting," Natale, a spokesperson for the Rochester, New York-based regional grocery chain, said on a tour of the new store this week. "We wondered if we would ever open the Westwood store."

The 122,000-square-foot Wegmans at University Station was originally intended to be the chain's first Massachusetts location. But development of the expansive mixed-use project stalled in 2008 amid the Great Recession and global credit crisis.

The project languished for almost five years before New England Development and Charles River Realty Investors bought the 130-acre parcel in Westwood for $130 million in 2012. The development team, which also includes National Development and Eastern Real Estate, broke ground on the 2 million-square-foot project in November 2013.

In the meantime, Wegmans opened three Massachusetts stores: a 137,000-square-foot location in Northborough in 2011, a 135,000-square-foot store in Burlington and an 80,000-square-foot store in Chestnut Hill in 2014.

Wegmans does not disclose sales figures for individual stores, but the company overall brought in $7.4 billion in sales across 85 stores in the most recent fiscal year, Natale said. That's up from $7 billion in sales across 83 stores in fiscal 2013.

The chain also plans to open stores in Natick and in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Wegmans will lease a 194,000-square-foot former J.C. Penney's location at Natick Mall and open a two-level store in 125,000 square feet, leasing the balance to complementary retailers. The Natick location is slated for a 2017 opening, while the Boston store at Landmark Center has not yet been designed.

In Westwood, Wegmans joins a number of retail tenants that opened earlier this year, including Target, Marshalls, HomeGoods, PetSmart, Nordstrom Rack. The expansive development also features residential and assisted living along University Avenue, adjacent to Interstate 95 and the Route 128 MBTA Commuter Rail Station.

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