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Northland Needham Street Master Plan

Turning a strip mall into walkable village center

  • 1M

    Square Feet

  • $500M

    Construction Value

  • Newton, Massachusetts

    Newton, Massachusetts

We helped plan a modern interpretation of Newton’s historic commercial villages

Northland Investment wanted to reinvent a classic strip mall in Newton, Massachusetts, an older suburb of Boston. The developer asked for an urban design strategy that would make the site a focal point for the area around it—a destination with a strong sense of character. We didn’t have to look far for a good model: historic commercial villages throughout Newton. Built before cars, they embodied just the right scale for walkability.

Our plan replaces all the buildings on the site except for a 19th-century mill building. Walkable new development wraps around the historic mill, adding more than a million square feet of stores, offices, and multi-family housing. Tying everything together—and giving the new development strong “curb appeal”—is a carefully-planned Main Street defined by a public realm of active sidewalks, accessible bike paths, and a landscaped square designed and programmed to serve as a new community hub.

Our work brought the project in line with the city’s goals for design, density, and mix of uses while creating maximum value for our client. Moreover, it gives Northland a model it can use across the U.S. for redeveloping larger sites in urban neighborhoods.

Meet Our Team

David Dixon, Vice President, Planning and Urban Design Leader, Urban Places

We help communities manage change to become more livable, equitable, and resilient.
David Dixon Vice President, Planning and Urban Design Leader, Urban Places Read More

Wei Jin, Urban Designer

My design focus: people and the sense of place and environment. Integrate physical design solutions with social aspects and natural systems.

Jeff Sauser, Associate, Planner

As a planner and urban designer, I enjoy the opportunity to make a difference in communities across North America.
  • David Dixon

    Vice President, Planning and Urban Design Leader, Urban Places

  • Wei Jin

    Urban Designer

  • Jeff Sauser

    Associate, Planner

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