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Third try a winner? New York developer submits another proposal for the corner of Bromfield and Washington downtown

Proposed tower at Bromfield and Washington streets in downtown Boston

Renderings by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gil (hard to tell at this size, but, yes, the left rendering includes a flock of birds).

Midwood Investment and Development this week filed plans for a 23-story office building, with the first two floors and the basement set aside for retail use, at the corner of Bromfield and Washington streets in Downtown Crossing.

The proposal is a replacement for the long dormant plans for a 59-story residential tower that Midwood formally withdrew in February for the roughly half-acre site now home to four smaller buildings, including the one where the Payless used to be. Those plans in turn were meant to replace a 22-story residential and retail building the company proposed in 2008, only to withdraw those after the economy went to hell.

Midwood says its latest proposal, for a 441,000-square-foot building will prove a boon to Downtown Crossing:

The Project will reinforce Downtown Crossing’s character as a destination point by expanding the pedestrian zones on Washington and Bromfield streets, by stitching together the disparate streetscape designs of the surrounding area, and by providing much needed lush planting that will maintain the feel of the existing streetscape along Washington Street. Additionally, the Proponent aims to improve the accessibility of the Project Site through new paving and by creating a curb-less environment on Bromfield Street. This strategy will continue the revitalization of this downtown intersection that began with the construction of the pedestrian plaza at Shopper’s Park.


The Project will introduce new, high quality architecture to the Project Site with a design and massing that will assimilate the modern and historical influences of the city, manifested in a unique architectural expression.

Midwood is proposing no parking for the building, located near stations on all of the MBTA's subway lines.

11-21 Bromfield St. project-notification form (51.7M PDF).


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Should be housing not office space. The city needs dwelling units to catch up the shortfall from population growth and office space has a dubious future with work-from-home becoming a standard business practice for most companies as a cost cutting measure now that the pandemic has proved it to be viable alternative to leasing physical office space for many companies.

Voting closed 35

There's been a growth in demand for downtown office space because the Seaport is now too expensive for the start of small companies that area was originally supposed to attract (remember the "Innovation District"?). In contrast, the luxury residential market has become increasingly shaky in terms of financing - banks are increasingly holding onto their money rather than lending it out (look at the problems Millennium Partners had getting financing to finish the Winthrop Square tower - at least until they decided to switch from condos to apartments).

Voting closed 41

Would cost well over a million for a tiny shoebox in that area, what good will that do? Or are you suggesting developers spend a million building it and sell it to you for $100,000?

Voting closed 17

If those units would be rented, it would help. All housing helps relieve pressure somewhere else, all housing helps either (a) reduce aggregate demand elsewhere, or (b) bring in new demand at a high property tax rate, helping the city provide more housing elsewhere. And, of course, the inclusionary zoning rules means Boston would get more affordable housing in any event.

I agree though -- I'm skeptical that the housing market works well there. Personally, I'd love to see every new building "downtown" include some housing so that there are no neighborhoods where the sidewalks roll up. But that isn't the policy at this time...

Voting closed 26

Not directly related to this project, but in general one has to wonder how much demand there will be for office space.
Short term, I've heard talk that many of those WFH are estimated not to return to onsite work until at least after the new year. Of course with the recent uptick in cases that could extend well into next year.
Longer term, it's harder to predict. Will companies continue with the WFH model, or will they institute a hybrid model, i.e., rotate the number of employees coming into the office a few days a week.
So let's say for example you're a financial firm that employees 100 people.
However, you only have about 30 people a day coming into the office while the rest WFH. Therefore, you only need to lease enough space for the 30 employees rather than more space for the 100 employees.

Voting closed 35

Nobody knows how things will shake out. Just to use your example above, if a company that formerly needed space for 100 now only needs space for 30, will the remaining space just sit idle? Or will smaller companies that previously couldn't afford space in the city see falling commercial rents and jump in? I've worked for a number of companies that would've preferred to have a transit-accessible location downtown but could only afford rent on shared space in the suburbs. There really are more companies out there than it seems.

Voting closed 17

This looks less like Bromfield and Washington than anything else on Earth.

Voting closed 28

It basically called for having the Bromfield Street side being one giant hotel-like driveway and garage entrance, on a street that is one of the few remnants of the pedestrian-heavy areas of pre-war downtown Boston (OK, there's Washington Street, but even as a "pedestrian" mall, it was still designed to allow large vehicles to drive down it).

Voting closed 31

That's kind of exactly what happened on Avery Street, a few streets over.

Voting closed 11

Pre-which war? (WW3?)

Voting closed 16

I used a phrase that, at least when discussing buildings and stuff, refers to World War II.

Voting closed 25

As an old native Bostonian I still get a certain "feeling" when I walk down Bromfield Street of the old pre-DTX Washington Street shopping district of the 60s and 70s (I know it long predates that, but that was my "era" so to speak). Even though it now reeks of the urine of the homeless and the addicted, and is now partially obliterated by the blank was of a nondescript Suffolk building, for me the spirit is still there of the bookshops, curio shops, and coffeehouses that once populated that street. And Sherman's, of course. And several watch repair places. For old time Bostonians who needed a watch fixed, the shorthand was "take it to Bromfield Street".

Voting closed 17

How could you forget Bromfield Pen Shop home of the giant pen in the window? Now that's old-timey. It's been on Bromfield Street for over 70 years. Looking at Google maps it appears the giant pen no longer has pride of place.

Voting closed 32