Filene’s building site to become Boston apartment tower?
Jan 2011 27

Will the Filene’s building site become a new apartment tower?

That’s one broker’s prediction.

From a Banker & Tradesman article:

“We think that there’s enough momentum in the market and interest in that site that something will happen this year,” said Thomas Hynes Jr., CEO of Colliers International Boston. “There’s very strong demand in the rental market, and the precedent’s already set on that spine with residential towers right down the street. Whether it gets sold or whether Vornado stays in some capacity … something will happen in that location.”

That’s very interesting. Given that the Colliers’ people probably know everything that’s going on in the city, they are in a position to make valid predictions.

Would a new tower take up all the space laying vacant or just a part of it, with the remainder staying open until the office / hotel market improves?

If a rental tower (or two, or three) does go up, it will be interesting to see who the developer selects as its target market. Rich, singles? Dual-income, no kids? New families?

Given its location, putting residential here would benefit the neighborhood, greatly. 45 Province looks better if more people are living in the ‘hood. An apartment building has been proposed for up at Bromfield and Washington streets above what is now a Payless shoe store and Wendy’s. With three residential buildings in such close proximity, the area would have quite the different feel.

Hopefully, any new residents would realize they are in the commercial / retail district, not on Beacon Hill, and wouldn’t attempt to drain the business life from the area.

The Archstone Boston Common apartment building seems to be full of people who are content with being in a busy neighborhood.

Targeting new families is an excellent idea although I fear the developer won’t be willing to build apartments large enough for a family with children. There may not be enough of these in the city to make it financially viable. Other cities have done this, however, (Vancouver comes to mind) with great success.

They should also consider putting grad-student housing inside, similar to what was done at Trilogy, in the Longwood / Fenway area. Harvard was co-developer (if I’m not mistaken) and put up cash in order to get it built. In return, they have dibs on a significant number of apartments in the building. And, if I’m not mistaken, the grad students have their own entrance.

So, they should build three towers: one for singles / urban professionals (one to two bedrooms, small kitchens); one for new families (two or three bedrooms, with the second bedroom large enough for a 6-10 year old child and the third large enough for a crib (or a nanny!); and one for grad students (studios or small one-bedrooms, kitchenettes, even shared spaces).

The first three floors should include dedicated parking, a BSC gym / fitness facility, Trader Joe’s, Mexican-American take-out (I think Chipotle was there before?), Filene’s Basement (since Vornado “promised them” to put it back), entrance to the Orange / Red Line, and perhaps office space on level 2/3? Maybe even a (gasp!) bookstore?

Image above from Google Maps

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