An Urban Transformation Story:
Millennium Tower is a prime example of what positive development in downtown Boston can do to transform a neighborhood. When Filene’s opened in Downtown Crossing in 1881, it quickly became a popular upscale shopping destination and remained so through the early part of the 20th century. By the 1970s, however, the prestige and vitality of Downtown Crossing had deteriorated so thoroughly that the area was known as “the combat zone.” While Filene’s and its architectural neighbor, the Burnham Building, were still present, the surrounding retail was decidedly lower end and by the turn of the 21st century, few people of means wanted to spend time downtown crossing, despite the fact that the neighborhood was central and offered easy access to the theater district, and the Boston Common and public gardens. When Filene’s finally closed in 2006 it seemed to signal the end for the neighborhood. There was a glimmer of hope when a New York developer came in to redevelop the Filene’s site, but these hopes were dashed when he defaulted on the project — right after demolished the building and leaving a large, gaping hole right in the center of Downtown Crossing.
Enter Millennium Tower
For four years, that scar was a daily reminder of the failure – but also of the potential – of the neighborhood. Enter Millennium Tower. Developed by a team with a history of success in Boston and a commitment to the city, this residential building did more than simply heal the scar, it spurred neighborhood renewal. Millennium Tower is not just any residential skyscraper. It houses over 400 of the most upscale condo residences in the city, has a two-story, 23,000 sq. ft. club level, and a seemingly interminable list of features, amenities and special events that connect Millennium Tower residents to the city they live in. And who are these residents? They are well-heeled, diverse in age and ethnicity and demand a rich and engaging cultural milieu. So, as Millennium Tower was developed, so were deals with retail and restaurant partners. The very first grocery store in Downtown Crossing, Roche Bros., was opened at the base of the tower, and european retailer Primark was brought in. High-end cocktail bars, new restaurants, hip hotels and fitness centers came into the neighborhood, and were soon filled by crowds of new residents and visitors returning to area for the first time in a long time. And perhaps most tellingly, property values in downtown surged, indicating both a demand for downtown living and a turnaround for the neighborhood. Next up for the developers of Millennium Tower is the Winthrop Square project – and if the success of Millennium Tower is any indicator, the downtown and financial district corridors are about to be transformed by an infusion of business, life, energy and culture.
Read more about the new, extravagant Millennium Tower Shoppers Plaza and “The Steps”, a new theatre also adjacent to Millennium Tower.