Nordstrom addition brings other changes to South Shore Plaza

Jon Chesto

By the time shoppers explore the new Nordstrom store and expanded wing that will open in the South Shore Plaza, they’ll have noticed several other changes to the older section of the mall as well.

Simon Property Group, the Braintree mall’s operator, plans to make some noticeable changes to the existing mall in anticipation of the Nordstrom expansion, including the replacement of the longstanding signpost that stands at the mall’s main entrance on Granite Street.

Simon representatives gave journalists and Braintree town officials a brief presentation about the Nordstrom expansion at the construction site on Wednesday as dump trucks and cranes rumbled in the background. The 241,000-square-foot expansion, which could accommodate 30 to 45 new stores, will be finished by November 2009. Meanwhile, the 156,000-square-foot Nordstrom department store that will open at the end of the new wing is due to open in March 2010.

At that point, the mall will have seen a net expansion in size of nearly 150,000 square feet, accounting for the recent demolition of the former Macy’s building. The mall will contain nearly 1.6 million square feet of leasable space when the Nordstrom project is finished.

Simon officials estimate that the number of workers at the mall could increase by as many as 500 retail workers to 3,500 people by the time the Nordstrom store opens.

“All of us who live in the town ... understand the economic importance of the South Shore Plaza and the signature site that it has become for us,” Braintree Mayor Joe Sullivan told the crowd at Simon’s event.

Mall manager Judy Tullius said Simon is close to reaching agreements for several of the spots in the new wing, but she couldn’t name any of the new tenants until their leases are signed.

Tullius said Simon will make several changes throughout the old mall during the next year to improve it and ensure its look matches that of the new addition.

A new signpost will go up in January at the main Granite Street entrance, although it will still have room for a message board like the current one.

The mall’s main food court area will be renovated, giving it a more modern look.

Wooden benches will be replaced by “soft seating” such as cushioned chairs and couches throughout the mall.

Upper level bridges will be accented with wood paneling.

Extra skylight space will be added to allow more sunlight into the mall.

The customer restrooms in the basement level near Sears are being renovated.

Jon Chesto may be reached