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Vacant Space Repurposed

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A Boston-area shopping center found a creative use for a vacant space once occupied by Borders. The center, owned by Chestnut Hill, Mass.-based WS Development, transformed the space into a community destination: a skating rink complete with free skating and rentals, artificial ice, festive winter décor and several activities sponsored by its retail tenants. The free community skating pavilion, dubbed “Freeskate at Mansfield Crossing,” opened March 2. Many of the Center’s retailers and restaurants got involved in the program through giveaways and special activities, from live bands to horse-drawn carriage rides. David Fleming, director of corporate marketing for WS Development, says the company is monitoring the project closely to determine whether it can evolve or be extended over the longer term. Given market shifts and the ups and down in the big-box arena, repurposing space in a way that continues to attract consumers to the mall could be a trend with legs.

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