Market Returns to Center as South End’s Foodie’s Market Set for Macy’s Spot

Photo: The Foodie’s Market on Washington Street in Boston’s South End. 

The owner of the former Macy’s department store announced today, Monday, March 23, it has signed a lease with a small but growing Boston-based grocery chain to occupy nearly a third of the space in Belmont Center. 

Belmont’s Locatelli Properties said Foodie’s Urban Marketswhich has operated a store in Boston’s South End since 1999 before expanding in the past two years into Duxbury and South Boston, will lease 15,000 square foot in the building located on Leonard Street. 

“Our goal is to bring an exciting mix of retailers and restaurants to Belmont Center,” said Kevin Foley, manager of Locatelli Properties.

The deal marks the return of a grocery store in Belmont Center two decades after the previous retailer, J. Bildner & Sons, closed its doors at 69 Leonard St.

Foley told the Belmontonian in December he would seek to fill the nearly 50,000 sq.-ft. commercial space with a range of national, regional or independent retailers and restaurants as tenants.

“Right now, I’m hoping spring or summer 2016 to open,” he told the Belmontonian.

Foodie’s, as it is know to legions of South Enders, was the first up-scale grocery and market on Washington Street 16 years ago as that Boston neighborhood began its gentrification. The now three-store company is known for prepared dinners and lunches, specialty departments, beer and wine selections as well as home delivery service.

Former Macy’s Landlord Reveals A Peek at the Site’s Future

Don’t expect big changes to the outside of the former Macy’s/Filene’s Belmont Center location over the next year; the excitement will be left for what will go inside, according to the landlord of the property who revealed just a bit of the site’s future Thursday night.

Locatelli Properties’s Kevin Foley and his colleague, Len Simons, held a public meeting on Oct. 30, at Belmont Town Hall to preview their presentation to the Belmont Zoning Board of Appeals as they seek three special permits to allow “minor” alterations to the building.

If everything goes to plan, retailers and restaurants at new site – without a name for now – will open for business by the spring of 2016.

The presentation before the ZBA will be held on Monday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Gallery of Art, on the third floor of the Homer Building in the Belmont Town Hall complex.

After the renovation work is completed, the site – located at the corner of Alexander and Leonard streets  –  will have approximately 48,000 sq.-ft. of commercial space available to lease, said Foley.

Since the late 60s, the building has “not been touched so it needs to be updated to bring back ‘zip’ to the Center,” Simons said of the commercial space leased to Filene’s from May 1941 to September 2006 when Macy’s bought Filene’s. Macy’s closed in January 2013.

Belmont-based Locatelli will seek ZBA permission on Monday, Nov. 3, to build a new vestibule off the parking-lot side of the building where the stairs to the women’s department was located, the installation of accessibility ramps and an elevator at the rear of the building, a renovated entryway and a new roof system on the Leonard Street side. In addition, windows will be installed and new entry ways created along Leonard Street.


“We need to include an elevator as we are required to make all floors accessible to the law,” said Simons.

In addition to accessibility features, a new office space of about 600 sq.-ft will be constructed on the top floor.

Simons said the renovations will have no effect on the number of parking spaces in the Locatelli parking lot or in vehicle traffic patterns.

“We believe the improvements for access purposes will support our efforts to bring a mix of quality retailers to the Leonard Street area,” said a written press release handed out at the meeting.

“Once Locatelli has obtained the necessary permits, we will be able to pursue potential tenants and regenerate retail activity in Belmont Center,” said the statement.

“We anticipate two large tenants and four to five smaller ones, like those down [Leonard] street,” said Foley, who doesn’t expect one retailer to take both floors “because that’s a challenge for a retailer.”

The tenants will work with Locatelli on dividing up the interior to best utilize the space.

While Foley appeared hesitant to add another bank branch in the Center, he said just about any business would be considered.

“As long as they are high quality,” said Foley, including national retailers, existing businesses and restaurants.

“I think a mix of restaurants and retail would be the best for [foot] traffic in the day and the evening,” said Foley.