Combat Zone to Cosmoplitan Midtown

You have probably been reading about all the development going on in Boston’s Midtown. I have visited the area many times when showing condos at the Ritz, but when I received the invitation from Debra Taylor Blair, president of LINK Boston, to go on a walking tour of this neighborhood and get the scoop from those “in the know”— developers, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, I jumped on it.

So, in late October, with hard hats on, our first stop was at Millennium Place, Boston’s newest luxury condo complex offering 256 contemporary one- to three-bedroom residences in an urban lifestyle community with five-star amenities at attractive price points—in the $900s per square foot, well priced for the luxury market. Here buyers can access a three-bedroom home in a full-service building for under $2 million. From the seventh floor, the highest level constructed at the time, I was able to get a feel for the location and some views, including the Boston Common, the Ritz Towers and theatres. Condos are available for sale now, with expected occupancy in October, 2013 and, according to a sales executive with Millennium Partners, sales are going strong with 60 homes under agreement and 15 under reservation already.

Courtesy of Walgreens

The Midtown neighborhood is targeted to be a 24/7 place to live and work, according to the BRA. Progress toward that end was evident as I walked down Washington Street towards the former Filene’s site, where Millennium Partners will be undertaking a mixed-use project. The addition of roughly 600 residences, both condos and rental apartments, in what will be the highest residential tower in Boston will bring added vitality to the neighborhood, already ripe with easy access to theatres, shopping, and cafés and restaurants that are bursting into the area.

Another stop was the former site of Borders Books, where Walgreens is launching a huge makeover. Originally built around 1920 as the Boston Five Cents Savings Bank, the 25,000 square foot space will be converted into a Walgreens flagship store, turning the image of your local drug store on its head. It will be the neighborhood gourmet store featuring fresh sushi, a juice and smoothie bar, a café with a barista, high-quality, fresh on-the-go meals and a high-end beauty boutique with a manicure bar and eye brow shaping. Slated to open in the spring of 2013, the new Walgreens will fill a big needs gap in the Downtown Crossing business district, helping to transform the area into one of Boston’s hot new residential neighborhoods.

Courtesy of 45 Province

Our last stop was at 45 Province, another full-service luxury building, featuring 137 residences with contemporary high-end finishes, a variety of floor plans from lofts to three-plus bedroom duplexes, a fitness center, residents’ lounge, media room and a heated lap pool. This 32-story building boasts some of the most spectacular city and harbor views, especially from the roof-top terrace.  Within steps, you’ll find an assortment of eating establishments including Sam LaGrassa’s deli, GEM Restaurant and Lounge and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

So what does all of this development mean for this neighborhood formerly referred to as the Combat Zone? The addition of residences is key to changing the fabric, as well as the perception, of this area of Boston. With residential development, the city is investing in infrastructure improvements in the form of lighting, sidewalk and road repairs. More residents in the area has generated a revival in retail, restaurants and cafés which, in turn, is making this midtown area a cool cosmopolitan place to live. If you are considering a luxury high rise and want to be in the heart of the action with accessibility to many of the city’s attractions, I would put the Midtown neighborhood residences on your “must see” list.