Thursday, July 17, 2008

What's happening to my Downtown Crossing?

(images courtesy of Clueless in Boston)

What's happening to my Downtown Crossing?

They're tearing down Filene's. It's almost gone. It's like a mini ground zero. That's okay. Cities change. Department stores change hands. Sports arenas change names for The Gardens to TD North. (But the Gardens still sounds so much better.)

Now, a NYC firm is proposing a $200 million project catty-corner to the old Filene's site. Two hundred luxury apartments and three floors of retail space on the corner of Bromfield and Washington.

Frankly, the building they want to tear down is pretty groady. Aesthetically, it's the pits. But there are some really pretty old buildings on DTX, and I hope the long range plan for the street isn't to either tear them down or even do what seems to be the trend here in Boston: Keep the old facade and build a glass tower behind it with condos and offices and high-end stores that no one --meaning regular old working folks like me--can afford. Or else they just pile red bricks to the sky to make it fit in with the rest of the city.

DTX is such a gem. It's one of the only places in Boston (along with the subway) that's actually integrated and people are walking around. Every color skin, every language can be heard out there. Otherwise, in Boston, whites hang out in certain places, and "people of color" frequent other places. There are still carts out there that sell everything from hot dogs to shish kabob, and belts and scarves. Yeah, there's a Starbucks out there, but there's also an Army/Navy store and a FYE music store. While the developers are coming in from NYC and every other point on the compass, it would be nice if someone tried to turn DTX into a neighborhood with it's own flavor like the South End, JP, or Beacon Hill.

The great thing about Boston is it's manageable. On a nice day you can walk pretty much the length of the downtown area without resorting to cabs and the subway. And it's an enjoyable walk with lots to look at. You don't get the feeling your walking in steel and glass canyons.

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