In downtown Boston, it is simply known as the hole.
The former Filene’s property, with a construction crater two stories deep, has been a scourge on the city’s central shopping area for five years, defying the wave of recovery that has sprayed the city with new towers and renovated buildings.
But now its developer has a real sign of progress — an emerging deal with a promising tenant that will enable construction to resume on the $620 million project as early as April.
The advertising firm Arnold Worldwide is negotiating a lease to occupy most of the original Filene’s department store, a commitment that in turn would unlock funding for construction, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. This individual was not authorized to speak publicly because the deal is not yet final.
More than any other project, the Filene’s redevelopment is crucial to the broader campaign of revitalizing downtown Boston and its shopping district. Positioned at the center of Downtown Crossing, it would bring an influx of new residents and stores to an area that has just begun to shrug off a reputation as a second-rate retail destination.
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