The renewal and redevelopment of the downtown area has been in process for years now, with high end condos and upscale restaurants slowly revitalizing the neighborhood. But for many years, the empty space where Filene’s Basement used to be was a constant reminder of the issues Downtown Crossing faced. But now, the space has finally been taken over, by what Doug Meyer, Membership Services and Database Manager for the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, calls “the most exciting” of the various changes to the area: the opening, at last, of the Roche Brothers supermarket.
“It’s not just that they’re going to be 30,000 square feet and the first grocery store that the downtown’s ever had,” says Meyer. “They’re also going to have a sidewalk café. It’s going to be right on Summer St. Plaza, spilling onto the plaza.”
Asked whether the supermarket was the missing piece, Meyer says “Certainly in terms of what residents have been looking for down here for years, yes. Overwhelmingly, when they were surveyed, when they were canvassed about what is the critical missing thing, they would say something like that.”
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He also pointed to the further development of housing in the area, between the addition of rooms at the still-growing Millennium Tower, and the build out of the Hotel Godfrey.
“It was always a gorgeous building,” says Meyer. “There was a huge bidding war in 2010 — 25 or 30 hotel operators bidding to buy it.”
He called the end result “dazzling,” and says it will be “about 250 hotel rooms, very boutiupe, so very much in the same market as the Ames up on Court Street or Nine Zero Hotel on Tremont Street.” Don’t try to book your room quite yet, though — the hotel won’t open until October.
Lest you think the neighborhood is done revitalizing, Meyer is quick to quash that notion. “I definitely shouldn’t imply that the neighborhood is somehow finished or complete. The good vibrant, downtown healthy competitive neighborhoods always have a certain amount of turnover, because that means that there’s fresh investment coming in.”
But with the addition of the supermarket, are there any big ticket items Meyer is hoping to add? “It would be nice to see that supplemented with more home goods furnishing stores, just because there are so many folks moving down here.” You heard it here first, Pier One.