Continuing the trend of expanding Boston vertically, construction of what will be one of the tallest residential buildings in Boston officially began on Sept. 17.
The Millennium Tower, named after its developer Millennium Partners, will fill “Filene’s Hole,” a vacant lot in Downtown Crossing that Filene’s Department Store once stood on. It will be about 625 feet tall, shorter only than the John Hancock Tower, the Prudential Center and the proposed Back Bay Tower.
“The Filene’s site is synonymous with Downtown Boston,” said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in a Sept. 17 press release. “The start of construction celebrates the beginning of a new chapter in the history of this historic building and highlights the promising future that is in store for this neighborhood.”
The tower’s residences will cost anywhere from approximately $750,000 to about several million dollars, according to Millennium’s website. They will also dedicate 95,000 square feet of its lower floors to retail space.
Rosemarie Sansone, president of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, said the construction of several buildings in the area over the past several years has brought a balance of history and novelty.
“It’s a thrilling time for the downtown area,” she said. “So many people are choosing to live, work and go to school here. This neighborhood has always been important because it is the core of the city. Millions of dollars have been invested here over the last few years for development. What’s great, though, is we haven’t lost any of our history. The Millennium Tower marks the centerpiece of this new growth.”
Millennium Towers already has space reserved for several businesses, including the grocery chain Roche Brothers.
Sansone said the grocery store will be the only one easily accessible for local residents, and is a place students at Emerson College and Suffolk University — both of which are a few blocks from the construction site — have been asking about for years.
Some residents of the Downtown Crossing area said they are looking forward to the retail aspect the tower will bring, but most of the residences are out of their price range.
Rachel Salzman, 18, a resident of Boston and student at Emerson, said while the tower was a symbol of progress for Boston, its lack of affordability was a problem.
“It’s nice to see somewhere else to live for after graduation,” she said. “There’s no way I could get in there, though. It will be something beautiful to look at, much better than the hole in the ground it has been, but it doesn’t seem like something the college audience here could get to.”
Jesse Levin, 20, a resident of Boston, said the tower would be a great addition to the Boston skyline.
“From the South Shore, there are certain spots where I can see the city, and I love looking at it,” he said. “I love seeing the skyline from afar. It can irritate me slightly when I’m in the middle of the city, but being removed, it’s great.”
Charlie Abeyta, 58, a resident of Boston, said he did not expect the tower to be as large as it was, but the construction was bound to happen.
“We’ve had Boston forever with just two big buildings,” he said. “Sooner or later, they’d have to put more someplace. I can’t believe the city’s as old as it is sometimes though. It’s been building up, and this could definitely be a good sign for Boston. We’ll just have to wait and see.”