BEDFORD — Sierra Trading Post and HomeSense are being eyed to fill the former Bob’s Store at the Bedford Mall plaza.
The two businesses, both operated by TJX Cos., have been working with the owner of the former Bob’s at 73 South River Road on various architectural designs for the exterior of the building.
“We feel that since Bob’s left, we struggled and strived to find the right fit for your community and for the property that we manage,” Mary McMahon of ACF Property Management told town planners last week. “We think we found the ideal tenants.”
Sierra Trading Post offers various brands of outdoor clothing and gear, and currently has one other New Hampshire location — in Nashua. HomeSense is part of the HomeGoods family, and focuses on furniture, lighting, decor, art and rugs; this would be the first HomeSense in New Hampshire.
Both prospective tenants will complement and enhance the Bedford Mall center, which was last redeveloped in 2011, McMahon said. The 45,000-square-foot former Bob’s Store would be split into two retail spaces, with HomeSense occupying about 27,000 square feet and the Sierra Trading Post 18,000, said Chris Rice, an engineer with T.F. Moran.
Last week, a proposed architectural design for the exterior of the building was presented to the Planning Board, although the board delayed voting on the plan.
“The applicant proposes to remove the existing tower facade of the Bob’s Store and replace it with two prominent square store facades,” Mark Connors, assistant planning director, wrote in a report to the board.
But the contrasting design elements of the two new facades had some town officials concerned.
“Those are intentionally very different from each other,” explained McMahon, who said Sierra Trading Post and HomeSense have their own branding platforms with unique elements.
Under the proposal, the HomeSense entrance tower would be more contemporary, while the Sierra Trading Post entrance tower would include stone columns and clapboard backing.
“I don’t understand why they have to be so different,” said board member Charles Fairman.
Town Councilor Kelleigh Murphy suggested that the trim work for both of the towers be identical, which would provide more consistency throughout the design.
Rice said his firm has been working with the companies to find an architectural design balance that will please both retailers and the community.
Town planners asked the engineers to speak with the prospective tenants once again about potential changes to the design plan that would match with the overall exterior of the Bedford Mall. They are expected to return to the Planning Board on Dec. 17 for further review.
The former Bob’s Store is located on the southern end of the mall plaza. The store has been vacant since Bob’s closed about 18 months ago and has remained vacant since. Other anchor tenants at the mall, which sits on an 18-acre parcel, include Kohl’s, Staples and Marshalls.