December 7, 2008

Downtown Crossing Reconsidered

Interesting piece in the Boston Globe magazine today on whether Downtown Crossing will finally achieve its promise. I agree with the premise that attracting pepole to live in the district
"may just be the best hope to revive Downtown Crossing and transform it from merely a place where shoppers shop and workers work into a place where shoppers linger over lunch with their day's purchases, workers meet for dinner, and residents call out greetings to one another as they make a morning coffee run. No longer a business district but a neighborhood."

However, I see a few additional issues along with adding residences, filling empty storefronts and adding signage and clearer pedestrian areas -- all of which are important.

* Serious attention needs to be paid to the pedestrian corridors into the Downtown Crossing district, in order to attract tourists and suburbanites in from nearby attractions like Boston Common. They walking routes need to be compelling, not just possible.

* What's the reason for someone who doesn't live and work there to come to Downtown Crossing as opposed to other neighborhoods? There has to be a good reason to choose to eat or shop there, as opposed to Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the South End and so on. Stores you can't find elsewhere? A special sense of place? It's got to offer something different/better that the city's other great neighborhoods.

* Why would someone want to linger there instead of go to one or two places and leave. What makes it a multiple destination neighborhood? I completely agree with the premise that the area does not need "more cellphone stores, fast-food places, or pawnshops." Filling storefronts is important, but not enough; the right kinds of businesses are important in creating a compelling destination.

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