​By Helene Solomon, CEO Since the founding of Solomon McCown & Company 10 years ago, we here at 177 Milk Street, the historic Grain Exchange, have had a front-row seat to the renaissance unfolding in downtown Boston. Like other tenants of the Financial District, there once was a ring around our office: surrounded on all sides by the Central Artery, Downtown Crossing, and Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market. Now our office sits on the beautiful Rose Kennedy Greenway, and a new world awaits right out our front door. With recent restaurant arrivals such as The Palm and Trade as well as a fab Art Deco lobby café at the Langham Hotel, downtown Boston finally has a higher quality of restaurants to keep us hanging around late into the evening. Even this week’s opening of City Sports on Franklin Street was a brilliant leasing move and a sign of things to come: a major retailer off of a main street. The difference isn’t just bricks and mortar, it is flesh and blood. Boom times in Boston mean a new breed of tenants are now part of downtown. No longer does every worker on State Street appear ripped from a Brooks Brothers catalogue. PayPal’s new local office resides at International Place, while tech start-up Mobee calls Boston’s Old City Hall “home”. We’re well on our way to a true 24/7 downtown that a world-class city like ours deserves. No longer do the oldest streets in Boston roll up their sidewalks at 5pm. We can take a walk along the water at night and gaze up at a diversity of architecture, old and new. Wouldn’t it be great if cafés dotted the Greenway, much like in Barcelona or Rome? A transformation this sweeping and majestic deserves a reimagining: a united downtown where provincial attitudes and old neighborhoods such as the Financial District or Downtown Crossing no longer brand this vital part of the city that really now has it all. This was the theme of NAIOP’s conference this week at the Seaport Westin. While it might have been entitled “The Changing Face of Downtown Boston”, as Panelist David Greaney of Synergy Investments observed, it’s not just the face…it’s the entire body. Now is the time when we’re reminded why Solomon McCown & Company came to the Financial District a decade ago: we finally have a downtown for the 21st century.

Downtown Boston in 1961 and 2013. Photos courtesy Colliers International.
Downtown Boston in 1961 and 2013. Photos courtesy Colliers International.