The latest Natick, Mass., business news:
The pain of 1 South Main
Natick’s early morning Economic Development Committee meetings generally have a positive vibe, whether it’s about boosting bio labs, celebrating cultural events, or enthusing over zoning bylaw updates. But this past Thursday’s meeting of the advisory group also allowed members to vent about Natick’s #1 eyesore, the forlorn fenced-off area at 1 South Main St, that sits where a fire devastated businesses in 2019.
A developer has presented—and changed—plans numerous times before Natick boards, but has yet to start building anything. The recent pulling of a foundation permit by the owner does give some hope, but as of this writing, there were still no signs of change. Late last year the developer said a mid-2023 groundbreaking was possible, and we heard from a representative of The Block development in July that “We are ironing out final engineering plans and plan to move forward with groundbreaking as soon as possible!”
The fence was covered with tiny hearts this past spring, yet the Economic Development Committee finds itself in search of a pulse at 1 South Main.
“This project is a gateway to the town, and it is a blight and an eyesore,” said committee member Doug Landry. “[The developer] has a responsibility to do something with that site, whether it’s to get going on the construction, come forward with a real plan to modify it, or sell it. Let’s go!”
Landry pondered how town officials can convey the urgency of the situation to the developer.
Natick Cultural Center’s Athena Pandolf said “I know the district would be in support of that,” adding that the unsightly space has harmed nearby retail business.
“There isn’t that much retail space in downtown Natick… it’s not a very vibrant section down there without that lot being developed,” said committee member David Pratt.
Select Board Member Paul Joseph, who serves as a liaison between the committee and Select Board, said there had been discussion among Board members about possibly bringing something to Town Meeting to give the town power to take action (maybe even a taking of property) beyond enforcing permits. Joseph said if others want to draft language, he’d have no problem adding a proposed Town Meeting article to the Board’s next meeting agenda “if that turns up the heat.” If nothing else, Joseph said, he’d like the space to be green and perhaps provide a place to use as an ongoing market.
Another matter that has Economic Development Committee members, and the public, sore is the seemingly never ending road construction in town, particularly on Main Street north and south. The idea was raised of whether the town could make available a clear map of where the construction is and its status.
Of course, the silver lining of the traffic resulting from the construction is that some number of people probably give up and turn around before being subjected to 1 South Main St.
Ribbon cutting at Rumble Boxing
On hand were owners Dr. Chandra Manish, his wife Shriti Shah and their family (including a brand new baby girl), plus Chamber reps and members, customers and staff.
Rumble had its soft opening earlier this summer and has already signed on more than 250 customers, says Manish, who has a background in CrossFit.
All fitness levels are welcome at Rumble, whose signature routine consists of a 10-round, 45-minute workout evenly divided between two styles of training. Half of the class is spent on the skills and drills of boxing (no actual fighting), and the other half focuses on resistance training. The trainers are pumped and jacked, part fitness leaders and part DJ.
Rumble has lots of incentives available to people to try out its offerings, and that includes organization outings.
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