The 2008 collapse of the massive Filene’s redevelopment turns out to have been the best thing that could’ve happened to Downtown Crossing. It didn’t look like it at the time; the project’s failure darkened the windows in a historic department store, opened up a crater ringed with construction in Boston’s geographic heart, and radiated blight throughout a neighborhood that was struggling already. But since then, Downtown Crossing has taken a sharp turn.
The area is becoming the domain of college kids, young diners, and creative workers, all of whom are unencumbered by the memories and prejudices about what the place used to be. It’s a snapshot of the demographic and economic changes sweeping over much of Boston, distilled down and played out over a handful of blocks along Washington Street. There’s no room in this new Downtown Crossing for the type of building that was supposed to rise above the Filene’s block in 2008. The new building, on the other hand, will give staying power to everything that’s happened in the neighborhood since the crater on Washington Street first opened up.