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Coming soon to Massachusetts: A two-story Wegmans

A Wegmans that has long been planned for Boston, Mass., has been shelved, but the store is expanding elsewhere in the state with a two-story location at a mall in Natick.

The store planned for the Natick Mall next spring will be the company's first location with shopping on two levels. Many of its stores have mezzanine-level seating, but not full-fledged grocery departments.

The store is part of the Rochester-based grocer’s continued expansion outside of New York State.

The Natick location will replace a former two-story department store in the mall. It will comprise 134,000 square feet of grocery space, including a cafe dining area with 100 seats. There will be two restaurants on an additional 12,500 square feet on the second floor, and 45,000 square feet on the third floor that Wegmans is searching for a tenant to fill.

It will also incorporate "cart escalators" to carry carts upstairs and downstairs. Carts automatically lock into place on an escalator track when pushed through safety doors and into an escalator queue. The shopper usually travels on a traditional escalator beside it. The track carries the carts and keeps them level so items inside do not spill out. The cart conveyors are already in use in Europe and at Target, Walmart and Sam's Club in places such as Colorado and Texas.

Natick is 10 miles west of Boston.

The grocery store within the city of Boston had been in the works since 2013, as part of a housing, office and retail development in the Fenway neighborhood. Space and construction restraints limited the amount of available parking, making the Wegmans store unworkable, according to The Boston Globe. A spokeswoman for Wegmans confirmed the decision to shelve the plan.

Wegmans said it will keep an eye on the plan's redesign and it's possible Wegmans could be included in a future phase of development.

It would've been the first urban location outside of Western New York. Instead, the company's store slated for Brooklyn in 2019 will be its first urban store outside Upstate New York.

Wegmans first entered New England in 2011. It has four stores in Massachusetts and will open a fifth in Medford on Nov. 5. The Rochester-based grocer expanded outside New York State for the first time in 1993 with a store in Erie, Penn.; then to New Jersey with its Princeton store in 1999, to Virginia with its Dulles store in 2004 and to Maryland with its Hunt Valley store in 2005. It is now targeting expansion in North Carolina, where there is a high concentration of expatriates from the Buffalo and Rochester areas. It has North Carolina stores planned for Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and West Cary.

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