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From Neiman Marcus to this?

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From Neiman Marcus to this?

We are filled with grief and anger at the senseless acts of terrorism by Hamas against innocent civilians in Israel and Palestine, including children, women, and the elderly. 

We stand in solidarity with Israel, our local Jewish community, and around the globe in condemning the violence of the past week.

Developer courts yet another idea for the Natick Mall 

Rather than the sounds of scientists developing life-changingfitness clubthe  cures, it will be thwack, thwack, thwack.

That’s according to the Real Reporter’s Joe Clements who says the Bulfinch Company is backing away from plans to build life science labs at the former Neiman Marcus store at the Natick Mall.

Instead, the home of the former luxury retailer will become a giant indoor pickleball court.

I wish I was joking.

Sudbury-based fitness-club operator D.J. Bosse would operate the pickleball club, which would also include a restaurant and a small fitness center.

With 21 indoor courts, this would be the largest indoor pickleball facility in the region so let the bragging begin.

Bulfinch Companies acquired the property for $12.6 million in late 2021, a time when the lab market was at its zenith, writes Greg Ryan at the BBJ.

Some residential abutters opposed having labs in the neighborhood. But certainly, the change has to be a disappointment to town leaders given that the assessed tax value for life science labs would have been much higher than the new proposed use.

Find out where the Watertown candidates stand on helping businesses (note time change) 

I’ll be asking incumbent City Council President Mark Sideris and his challenger, former Town Council President Clyde Younger, to share their views about economic development and their commitment to helping businesses and nonprofits at a virtual debate tomorrow afternoon.

Please note that the time for Thursday’s debate (Oct. 12) has been changed to 1 p.m.

Send me your suggested questions and register here to watch live or to get the link sent to you after the debate.
Sideris and Younger are also participating in a forum tonight (Oct. 11) at 6 p.m. at the Watertown Free Public Library.

Today's grab bag

  • Walkability guru Jeff Speck (who presented a fascinating idea for Watertown Square at our Fall Business Breakfast last year) will be among the speakers at a kickoff event for the Watertown Square envisioning plan on Oct. 17, 6-8 p.m. at 64 Pleasant Street.
  • The Asian Business Empowerment Council is surveying to better understand and support the needs of the Massachusetts AAPI-ownd businesses. From the survey information, ABEC hopes to increase economic opportunities for all Massachusetts AAPI-owned businesses. The survey is available in ChineseEnglish, Khmer and Vietnamese
  • The French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham and Ritcey East in Watertown are among 12 small businesses statewide receiving a community impact grant from the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). The business received a grant totaling $5,000. (Watertown News)
  • The Becca Schmill Foundation is hosting Needham's first "Walk-About" for Fentanyl Awareness on Oct. 15. The organization plans to distribute informational flyers to every household in Needham.
  • Needham businesses and residents can sign up to receive important emergency alert notifications and messages from Needham Emergency Services which can be sent to your cell phone, landline, and email.
  • Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart and GBH's Jim Braude will participate in a special event hosted by Newton Community Pride on Nov. 8.

Bakeries popping up by the dozens 

Have you noticed an increase in bakeries across many of our communities of late?
It’s not your imagination.
Data from Toast shows that the number of bakeries across Greater Boston, already one of the nation’s most coffee-filled cities is growing at a faster pace than any place in the nation, along with Minneapolis.
The higher sales rates suggest remote workers are getting outside the home more often than last year, according to Axios Boston

Watertown Mall plan now includes housing units

The Watertown Planning Board holds a 7 p.m. public hearing tonight (Weds) on Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ master plan special permit application to redevelop the Watertown Mall
ARE’s revised project includes 1,000,000+ SF of commercial/lab space plus the recent addition of 88 residential units, with 13 affordable units.

Housing was added at the request of the planning board after the August 2023 meeting.

Two reminders and, tomorrow, a big announcement 

Finally, a pair of reminders about upcoming chamber events that I expect will be among our best of 2023.

First, is the return of the annual Authors & Innovators Business Ideas Festival, curated by attorney Larry Gennari and his Needham-based firm Gennari|Aronson LLP, Oct. 23-26 at locations in Wellesley and Watertown.

Each year, Gennari (the same guy who writes the business books column for the BBJ) channels his passion for entrepreneurship, collaboration, and reading into a series of compelling conversations with some fascinating business book authors.

We’re not talking about your run-of-the-millreal-worldend how-to type books. These are business leaders with real world, often cutting-edge, insights.

So we were thrilled when Gennari|Aronson invited the chamber to partner with them on this year’s program.

The lineup is here. All events are free, but capacity is limited so RSVP here.

And then there’s our biggest annual event of the year -- our Fall Business Breakfast, sponsored by Needham Bank -- Nov. 3 at the Newton Marriott.

We’ll be announcing our guest speaker and a very special honoree tomorrow.

Our early bird ticket discount rates ends this Friday. And we still have a limited number of sponsor tables available. Sign up here.

That's what you need to know for today unless you need to know why toothpaste might be the best souvenir you can bring home from your next trip abroad.

RIP, Brian O’Donovan, a longtime Newton resident.

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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