White paper confetti decorated the sunny skies over Downtown Crossing Tuesday as city officials and business leaders celebrated the groundbreaking of what developers describe as “a project of triumph and rebirth” – Millennium Tower.
Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined developers from Millennium Partners at the historic Burnham Building, the site of the former Filene’s Department Store, where the the $630 million, 60-story tower will be built.
Speaking in a gated area under the vintage Filene's clock, with renderings of the ambitious mixed-use tower behind him, Menino spoke of a reawakening and revitalization of the dilapidated district
“The Filene’s site is synonymous with Downtown Boston," Menino told a crowd of hundreds. "The start of construction celebrates the beginning of a new chapter in the history of this historic building and highlights the promising future that is in store for this neighborhood.”
Millennium is also the developer of the nearly completed Millennium Place luxury condominium, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Towers, and other acclaimed projects in Boston and around the U.S.
This new project will offer 450 luxury residences and 95,000 square feet of retail space as well as office space, and will begin with the renovation of the 1912 Burnham Building.
Once completed, Roche Bros. Supermarket will open the neighborhood's first large scale grocery store, satisfying what Menino called "a big demand" for a supermarket in the neighborhood.
"People keep asking with all this development there’s no grocery store. I’m delighted to say that Roche Brothers will serve the growing number of residents who call this neighborhood home," Menino said.
Arnold Worldwide, a subsidiary of Havas Advertising, the world’s sixth-largest communications group, has also signed a lease to move its headquarters to the iconic building.
"I think it's great, it's really fantastic. (The site) has been a big hole," said Arlington resident Ellen Eisner, who works just steps away in Downtown Crossing. Eisner was one of many curious passersby to stop and take in the ceremonious spectacle.
"All cities have their sketchy places. It used to be the Combat Zone, which has completely changed, and Downtown Crossing can be sketchy, but I think it's changing. Anything that helps bring new life and energy and business to a neighborhood, in my opinion, is a good thing."