City officials approved a $615 million development in the former Filene's location in Downtown Crossing, a residential and commercial project that promises to attract thousands of people to the shopping district daily and cover up an eyesore that was once home to the historic retail chain.
The development includes the construction of a 625-foot tower and the restoration of the Burnham Building, the original Filene's designed by acclaimed architect Daniel Burnham in the early 1900s.
The project has been stalled for years due to the economy and was recently taken over by Millennium Partners, which is now spearheading the construction.
"It's the most important corner in downtown Boston," says Anthony Pangaro, principal of Millennium Partners Boston. "When it is done, it'll be completely clear you've arrived in the middle of it all."
The plan includes 600 residential units (both rentals and condos), up to 200,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space, restaurants, a health club and parking. The company has also promised to reconstruct the MBTA station on the corner of Franklin and Washington streets and build a small amphitheater for use by local musicians.
The construction is slated to begin in the middle of next year and those involved estimate that it could take about three years.
According to Pangaro, the restoration of the Burnham Building is a key element of the development because it is a national landmark.
"It's a building that has a 100-year past life and we think 100 years of future life," he says.
The original plan included a hotel, but that has been scrapped for additional condos since developers are now more confident in the residential market, says Pangaro.