In a recent Boston Globe OpEd, Paul McMorrow supports the proposal suggested earlier in the year by the developers Vornado and Gale to phase in the redevelopment of the Filenes site in Downtown Crossing.
Their concept was to construct not just the garage and the retail space as originally proposed, but also the foundations necessary to accommodate the future development of the towers. What a great idea! Not only does this resolve the city’s frustration with the open “hole”, but it gives a shot in the arm for the retail activity in the area.
It is easy to throw verbal rocks at the developer for their failure to honor commitments made before the downturn to move forward with this project. But let’s get real. This is the worst national recession since the Great Depression. You can look around the whole country and I will challenge you to find a single major speculative office building starting construction.
The city of Boston will be a big winner with this alternative approach. They get the project started, new jobs are created, retail gets a boost, and much needed tax revenues will be maximized once the second phase gets built.
Let’s encourage the start of phase one of this project and allow the market to recover before we make an unreasonable demand to the owners to make a failed investment ahead of its time.