Boston’s population is on the rise and growing at its fastest rate in decades. Though largely driven by young professionals, the city is also swelling as empty nesters trade suburban homes for urban dwellings or pied-à-terres, and more young families opt for Boston over the traditional move to the suburbs. Regardless of background and interests, these people are drawn to the convenience and energy of a bustling metropolis and busy urban neighborhoods, along with the easy access to all that the city provides.
The influx has generated a residential building spree along with a sweeping transformation of the city. Almost everywhere I look while working in Boston, it seems a new building is in sight. Five glassy towers over 600 feet—roughly 60 stories—are proposed or already being built; former commercial districts like Downtown Crossing have been revitalized with ultra-luxury buildings, restaurants and cafés and new infrastructure; the Fenway neighborhood is humming with residential construction; and the outskirts of neighborhoods long abandoned by developers are blossoming into gleaming new residential areas.
With easy access to work, shopping, theatre, entertainment, parks, health clubs and great dining, one amenity and perhaps necessity that has been lacking in some of the city’s neighborhoods—both established and up-and-coming—is access to full-service supermarkets. But, that’s changing now! Following the fabulous new Whole Foods in the South End’s Ink Block development, more full-service grocery stores are coming to Boston. It’s no coincidence that the city’s newest supermarkets will take shape in some of the hottest neighborhoods for new development. Here’s a round-up of those scheduled to debut in downtown Boston in the near future:
- A flagship Roche Bros will be the first full-service grocery store to open in the revitalized Downtown Crossing neighborhood, truly helping to transform this part of the city into a dynamic, 24/7 place to live, work and play. The store, nearing completion at 10 Summer Street (in the restored Burnham Building that’s coupled with the touted Millennium Tower development), will open later this spring.
- Wegmans, which has a cult-like following, will open its first store in the city in Landmark Center in the thriving Fenway neighborhood. It will be the first Wegmans in Boston, or for that matter, any major urban center. The store is slated to be around 75,000 square feet (about the size of the brand’s Chestnut Hill location and about half the size of a typical Wegmans), but will offer its trademark innovative shopping experience, unique merchandising, and a foodie-haven marketplace.
- Target is also coming to the Fenway area this year and plans to offer a full grocery section in its massive, 160,000-square-foot urban concept store. “CityTarget” will span four floors when it opens at the corner of Boylston and Kilmarnock Streets. This is right near the rejuvenated area of Boylston Street. which was once dominated by fast food joints and is now lined with luxury residential buildings.
- Star Market has signed a long-term lease for a 63,000 square-foot grocery store in the $950 million, mixed-used TD Garden project, making the TD Garden Star Market the largest downtown Boston supermarket (over 10,000 square feet larger than the recently opened Whole Foods South End). Not only will this serve as an anchor to residents of the building, but the store, scheduled to open by 2018, will be a welcome relief to residents of the West End, Beacon Hill and North End, who have been waiting for a more affordable grocery store in their neighborhoods.
Grocers want to locate stores where people live, but also require particular kinds of spaces. Now, developers are providing these footprints for the first time in years. The arrival of new supermarkets is great for both neighborhood residents and those considering a move to the city. This is a drastic and much needed change from the days when most Boston residents often had limited neighborhood grocery shopping options, and access to these shiny, modern markets will make downtown living even more desirable.