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While the pundits continue to debate the timing of the recession’s end, some ground-up projects are proceeding on schedule. Gloucester Crossing, in Gloucester, Mass., on Boston’s North Shore, is one of those developments that has found a way to come out of the ground during a history-making downturn.

The 195,000-sq.-ft. grocery-anchored mixed-use center is being developed by Boston-based Sam Park & Co., with The Wilder Cos., Boston, taking the leasing lead. Grand-opening events began in late September, and tenants will continue to open throughout the fall months.

The center’s grocery anchor, a 60,000-sq.-ft. Market Basket, is projected to be a powerful draw for the area. But other factors will solidify Gloucester Crossing’s chances for longevity as well.

“Gloucester Crossing is in a captured market, in fact one of the still underserved markets,” said Sam Park, managing partner of Sam Park & Co. “The mix is right, appealing to the demand for national retailing in growing communities.”

Besides Market Basket, the Phase 1 lineup includes Marshall’s, Dollar Tree, and about 60,000 sq. ft. of ancillary stores and restaurants. Phase 2 will incorporate a hotel—a new “urban-esque” concept for Holiday Inn Express—and the Shops of Gloucester Crossing, which will feature about 40,000 sq. ft. of small-shop space, restaurants and specialty retail. A senior-care facility and office space round out the second-phase components.

Marshalls opened Sept. 17, and both Dollar Tree and Market Basket open their doors this month.

“We have remained focused on the right merchandising mix, and not settling for second-rate tenants due to the near-term volatility in rents and cash flow that are affecting other centers,” said Park.

Bypassing fill-in tenants and remaining true to the center’s merchandising and core demographic needs illustrate Park’s long-term ownership perspective and commitment to an area he knows well.

“Cape Ann, like other high-end resort communities, is growing and becoming a year-round destination,” he said. “We see the same thing on Cape Cod, Newburyport and in other areas that have traditionally been summer vacation spots. A need has been created where retail development was historically quite difficult.”

Gloucester, he added, is the epicenter of some of the wealthiest communities on the North Shore, and Gloucester Crossing is intended to be its new destination.

Residents and visitors are getting more than a glimpse of what that destination will look like. “The streetscape, the lighting, the signs and architectural features are coming alive as we near the opening,” said Park. “It is exciting to see Phase 1 nearly filled and Phase 2 ahead of schedule.”

The project has been a catalyst for more growth onsite and nearby. The neighboring downtown is seeing its own rebirth with renovations and new buildings, and future phases of Gloucester Crossing will include more than 100 residences, said Park.