By  on August 29, 2008

BOSTON — After years of blocked sidewalks and construction debris, several long-awaited luxury projects are about to be unveiled in the Back Bay, the city’s poshest neighborhood.

The Prudential Center, the 3.2 million-square-foot office and retail complex at 800 Boylston Street, will open a new high-end retail arcade containing Gucci and other brands on Sept. 4. The 572-foot glass corridor will connect the Prudential Center with a freestanding Lord &Taylor and the new Mandarin Oriental Boston. The $260 million hotel and residence tower opens Oct. 6 at 776 Boylston, next door to the Prudential Center.

In addition, Saks Fifth Avenue — one of Prudential Center’s anchors — will open the curtain on a dramatic new facade and retooled selling floor, part of a three-year renovation, on Sept. 24.

Even after these projects bow, construction activity will continue around the Prudential Center and Copley Place — two luxury malls that sit back-to-back and together form the neighborhood’s densest retail hub, drawing residents, office workers, students, shopping suburbanites and convention goers.

Simon Property Group Inc. recently won approval to add a 41-story luxury condominium tower and 110,000 square feet of retail space to Copley Place, which is anchored by Neiman Marcus. The Copley tower is slated to open in 2012.

In addition, Prudential Center’s owner, Boston Properties Inc., has proposed an 18-story midrise with 80,000 square feet of retail at 888 Boylston. The parcel, among the last open sites in the Back Bay, sits between the Mandarin Oriental and the Hynes Convention Center.

“This has to do with the power of the Back Bay,” said Bryan Koop, Boston Properties’ senior vice president and regional manager. “There are very few truly 24-hour neighborhoods in any U.S. cities. We have office mixed with residential mixed with tourists and students. It’s a perfect storm for retail.”

On average, 60,000 people visit the Prudential Center daily, he said. Koop said Prudential Center sales per square foot — which are “well above” $1,000 — have climbed for seven years, including a gain last year.

Dubbed the Newbury Arcade because it runs parallel to Newbury Street (which sits one block to the north), the new Prudential Center wing covers 31,000 square feet of commercial space.

Gucci will open a 6,750-square-foot store in November that will carry a full range of product categories, said a company spokeswoman. She would not comment on whether the Gucci store in Copley Place would close as a result.

Along with Gucci, linens purveyor Frette, activewear retailer Lululemon and Mizu, a new salon from Vidal Sassoon’s son Elan Sassoon, will open in the Newbury Arcade.

When it opens, the new wing will be one of the last links in a web of arcades running between the Prudential Center, Copley Place, the Hynes Convention Center and five of the city’s largest hotels.

“There are different property owners, but to the shopper wanting to go from one store to another, the experience will be seamless,” Koop said.

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