Bring a world-class department store back to Filene’s site

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
A new developer is taking charge at the vacant Filene’s site.

NOW THAT construction activity is a step closer to resuming at the Filene’s site, I would urge the city and developers to find a tenant worthy of the original Daniel Burnham 1912 Filene’s building (“Deal set for a tower on gaping Filene’s site; Millennium Partners to take over project,’’ Page A1, Feb. 3). This structure was built to house a world-class department store, something Boston lacks. Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks, and Neiman Marcus are indistinguishable from any suburban mall store.

I realize this proposal goes against retailing dogma, but competing department stores have always thrived at this locale. Imagine Downtown Crossing anchored by an American outlet of London’s Harrods, Paris’s Printemps, C&A, or Tokyo’s Isetan.

If yet another Target or JC Penney filled the space, it would signal a lack of imagination in transforming Downtown Crossing into a retail destination, and degrade the Burnham building. The full-scale downtown department store is so extinct outside of New York City that its revival in a beautiful structure, with a renowned international tenant, would create a one-of-a-kind attraction, reinjecting Downtown Crossing with its long-lost vitality.


Jonathan Unglaub