After years of effort, it looks like it’s really going to happen this time: Downtown Crossing will be revitalized as a center of commerce, yes, but also as a desirable place to live. Construction of Millennium Tower, a 60-story glass structure with 442 residences, is underway at the area’s most prominent intersection. And next door, in the beautiful 1912 Burnham Building that once housed the original Filene’s, work is underway on a Roche Bros. supermarket.
Both should go a long way toward infusing life into Downtown Crossing. Though it is flooded with people on weekdays, the area typically is quiet at night and on weekends. But once the tower is occupied, more people will be out and about, drawing others in.
Having a supermarket in the area goes a long way toward creating what Craig Caplan calls “a real neighborhood.’’ Caplan runs The Unique Boutique and leases out other pushcarts to vendors.
“Residents bring so much to the table: as eyes on the street monitoring what’s happening, as a new voice and perspective within downtown’s community of stakeholders, and as people who have made a literal investment in the neighborhood,’’ said Rosemarie Sansone, president of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District.
“Right now, it’s still very much in transition,’’ said Caplan, who’s also the creator of “The REAL Downtown Crossing’’ Facebook page.
But the change so many have worked so long for is definitely happening. Caplan said workers are staying later and business is bustling at cafes, bars, and restaurants.
A toast: To progress.
BY THE NUMBERS
The year that the then-newly named Downtown Crossing opened as a pedestrian mall, which now encompasses Washington Street, between Temple Place and School Street, and Winter/Summer streets, between Tremont and Hawley streets. Cars are prohibited, cabs are welcome, and delivery trucks are restricted. The project had been inspired by the success of Faneuil Hall.
Number of pedestrians who travel through Downtown Crossing daily, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
6,000 cubic yards
The amount of concrete poured, in April, into the crater created by the 2008 demolition of part of Filene’s department store. New York developer Vornado Realty Trust had stopped work on redevelopment of the parcel.
The cost of a deeded parking space in the garage at Tremont on the Common. The space also will set you back $122 a month, which, according to the listing, is “quite low’’ in comparison with monthly fees at other downtown garages.
PROS & CONS
If you work virtually anywhere in the greater downtown area — the Financial District, Government Center, Copley Square, Beacon Hill — you can walk to work. If the weather’s not cooperating or you work farther away, three T stops (Park Street, Boylston, and Downtown Crossing) are handy. And, of course, proximity to so many vibrant areas has after-work advantages, too.
Lack of parking
As in much of Boston, on-street parking is limited. While some neighborhoods have “resident only’’ parking, that’s not really an option here. You’re either going to have to rent or buy a space in a garage or opt for Zipcar when you need four wheels.
The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District
The organization is hustling to make things right and keep them that way. Funded by local businesses, the group provides an array of services: overnight cleanup and graffiti removal, free walking escorts, public arts projects, installation of planters and banners, directions for visitors, and strolling musicians.
Lack of affordable housing
The average asking price of 19 condominiums on the market recently was $2.46 million, and only two of them were under $1 million.
Vanessa Parks is a freelance writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to [email protected]