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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Desolation Row

Last one out of Downtown Crossing, turn out the lights. Yeah, that would be you Tommy.

The word that Border's is closing its Downtown Crossing store eliminates what may be the last major reason to shop in what was once home to Jordan Marsh, Filene's, not to mention Gilchrist's, Raymond's, Barnes and Noble and the Lafayette Mall.

Obviously the entire blame doesn't rest on Mayor-for-Life Tom Menino. Federated Department Stores, owners of Macy's, is a major culprit. Their desire for cookie-cutting marketing ended the life of both Jordan's and Filene's and creation of the crater that mars the area.

The growth of suburban shopping malls and the technology changes that have made bookstores an endangered species are also to blame.

But so, obviously, is a vision. New Boston Redevelopment Authority boss Peter Meade shows his lack of familiarity with the depth of the problem when he cites the businesses who have signed leases: Sal’s Pizza, Sweet Cupcakes and the Back Deck Grill.

Well at least office workers have some new choices before they abandon the area en masse after 5 p.m.

Menino has been played like a violin by Vornado Trust, allowing them to create the crater before they had the financing the build, now hanging on like bystanders while the New Yorkers wait for a deal that's not likely to0 come.

At this point, the city has pretty much run out of leverage and options. So enjoy your cupcake and wait for the Seaport to grow.

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Anonymous Adam Gafffin said...

One minor correction: The Lafayette mall was never a reason to shop Downtown Crossing and it died a well deserved death long before the economy could be blamed for its passing.

Like the Copley Place mall that went up around the same time, it was the ultimate in suburbanification of the city: A fortress catering to rich white people in cars with a design (a giant brick wall) intended to send a clear message to the teeming hordes of muggers its scared designers figured were the only people actually walking around outside on the sidewalk: Keep out!

Copley Place survives because it's built atop an exit off the main highway out to the rich western burbs so its customers never have to soil their lungs with outside air (and if they do want to slum it, there's the human Habitrail to the Prudential Center). Also, it's right in the middle of a tourist area that caters to rich Europeans.

Lafayette failed because it sat atop a subway station out to the neighborhoods where only its workers lived.

Man, I hated that place!

June 10, 2011 2:17 PM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

I didn't particularly care for it either. It was about as anti-urban as you could get. In fact you might posit that Lafayette Mall was when DTX started going downhill and no one thought about the consequences.

June 10, 2011 3:14 PM  

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