In the middle of piles of brown dirt studded with the tracks of heavy equipment, white tents shaded rows of chairs filled with members of the Wayland community excited to be a part of the official groundbreaking for Wayland Town Center.
Richard Bornstein, CEO of KGI Properties, told the crowd that Friday's groundbreaking was a "celebration of the culmination of years of hard work."
Many of the individuals who put in that hard work, including past and current town officials as well as local business owners, were in the audience for official start of a project seven years in the making.
Linda Segal currently serves on Wayland's Zoning Board of Appeals, but has served in various capacities with the town throughout the years. She said she remembered the first meeting about Wayland Town Center back in April 2005. The groundbreaking, she said, represented land being put to good use.
"The transition from the Raytheon site to a redevelopment is because of everyone's hard work, including Raytheon's," Segal said. The site of Wayland Town Center was once the site of a Raytheon facility and, for a short time, a Polaroid facility. Raytheon has spent many years working with the town to decontaminate the site and make it once again usable.
Segal said she wasn't as concerned with the type of development going in as she was with the fact that the land has been cleaned up and made usable.
Still, "a mixed-use certainly sounds like a good option."
And mixed-use -- or perhaps widely varied use -- does describe the plan for Wayland Town Center.
Bornstein told the audience that while Stop & Shop will anchor the development, multiple other businesses are already under contract to fill as much as 70 percent of the space. Restaurants include Panera Bread and Bertucci's among others. Services include Middlesex Savings Bank, Supercuts, Anton's Cleaners and Town Center Orthodontics. Retail will include a local wine shop, Bottled of Wayland.
"It's a precise blend of nationally recognized and local tenants," Bornstein told the crowd.
With an opening date now just, "over the horizon," Bornstein said the expectation is that more tenants will begin coming forward. A breakfast geared toward addressing the questions of potential local tenants is schedule for May 2 from 8 a.m.-10 a.m. at .
"We hope this [Wayland Town Center] becomes a daily destination for you," Bornstein told the crowd.
Longtime Wayland resident and local business owner Lew Russell spoke as one of the business owners in town who has been instrumental in working with KGI Properties to bring Wayland Town Center to fruition.
Russell called the groundbreaking a "very special day for Wayland." He said he often heard from visitors to Wayland that it was a "nice town," but there was "no center." Russell told the crowd he was happy that there would at last be a center.
Steel for the construction of Stop & Shop is expected to begin appearing on the site soon. Once Phase 1 of the construction is complete, Phase 2 can begin, which will bring an additional 70,000 square feet to the development.