What’s Happening with the Atrium Mall?

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It’s disappearing.

The mostly-vacant Newton mall was purchased by an affiliate of the Bulfinch Cos. in July who has plans to convert the property into offices and a medical center. Once upon the time, the mall was home to upscale stores including Tiffany & Co and Williams & Sonoma, as well as regular mall inhabitants like Ross-Simons jeweler, J.Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, the Gap, and Barnes & Noble Booksellers. Many of the stores once situated in the Atrium Mall jumped ship and opened across the street at the Chestnut Hill Mall.

So, what happened? When the Atrium mall first opened in 1989, it drew visitors from the city as well as the Western suburbs. But as larger, more up-scale shopping plazas opened, like Legacy Place in Dedham and the enormous rebuild of the Natick Collection, the mall began to suffer. After Gap closed in February, a grand total of 14 stores remained.

For me, the Atrium Mall was a destination in college until the Natick Mall expanded and reopened, but in recent years, has just been a mall with no real draw. The Chestnut Hill Mall, right on other side of Rt.9 has some stores that we can’t find in Boston proper, like Bloomingdale’s and CUSP (though there’s a mini-store in the Prudential Center’s Neiman Marcus).

So know you now what happened, when you drive by one day and the Atrium Mall is completely gone. Maybe you’ll even have a doctor’s appointment there next year.