Downtown Crossing. Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki As long as Falafel King is still there, it'll still be Downtown Crossing.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki

A supermarket is opening in Downtown Crossing —hardly astounding news if it were any other neighborhood. But construction has begun on Wellesley-based Roche Bros.’s new 25,000 square-foot flagship store, which is due to open in the Filene's Basement spot, sealing the area as a neighborhood where people live and shop for food and day-to-day necessities.

Just ten years ago, Downtown Crossing was still recovering from the legacy of the notorious city-sanctioned red-light district known as the Combat Zone, which had mired the area in illegal drugs and prostitution since the 1960s. When the luxury Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Towers, which included high-end condos, opened in 2001, followed by the refurbishment and reopening of the beautiful Paramount Theater, which compliments the splendid Opera House nearby, change became a palpable reality. Last fall, Ritz-Carlton developers Millennium Partners opened the residential Millennium Place on Washington Street.


“Since the opening of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Towers, we’ve really seen the evolution of the neighborhood into a vibrant 24/7 downtown city center,” says Richard G. Baumert, partner at Millennium Partners. “Downtown Crossing is now a hub of culture, restaurants, and some of the city’s most desirable real estate. That’s evident in the success of Millennium Place, which is one of the fastest selling condo developments in the city’s history.”

Millennium Partners rehabilitation of the Burnham Building and the addition of the Millennium Tower Boston, a retail, office and residential development is the next significant change. The Burnham Building was built in 1912 for Filene’s Department Store and is Boston’s only structure designed by legendary Chicago architect Daniel Burnham (1846-1912). Roche Bros. is slated to open in the Burnham Building in early 2015.

“We are extremely pleased that an independent family owned business with deep roots in the community will be playing such a prominent role in the rebirth of this historic site,” Baumert says. “As the first large supermarket in Downtown Boston, Roche Bros. will further stimulate the evolution of Downtown Crossing.”

The Millennium Tower Boston’s sales center will open in October for move-ins slated for 2016. The building adds 442 homes and 95,000 square feet of retail space to the area. The Millennium Tower Boston’s homes start at $750,000 for almost 800 square feet and go up to the multiple millions. “Downtown Crossing has transformed dramatically over the past several years. It’s a completely different neighborhood now. What was once a neglected part of town is now vibrant and thriving,” says Baumert.

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