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Temple Place latest downtown Boston revival

Restaurants, apartments help enliven Temple Place

Temple Place, a side street in the so-called Ladder District near Boston Common, was once better known as a cut-through to Downtown Crossing.
Temple Place, a side street in the so-called Ladder District near Boston Common, was once better known as a cut-through to Downtown Crossing. Barry Chin/Globe Staff/Boston Globe

Perched at the corner of Washington Street, 59 Temple Place is a nice enough looking building, with its classical lines and quiet architectural details. But in many respects it is unremarkable from its surroundings.

Yet 59 Temple is one hot property. In one of the most intense bidding wars in the city’s commercial real estate market, more than 100 parties are vying to buy the building. The frenzy is only the latest bolt of excitement running through Temple Place, one of the side streets in the so-called Ladder District near Boston Common that until recently was better known as a cut-through to Downtown Crossing.

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“There’s a lot of excitement about the street. People are coming by to see what’s here,’’ said Talal Zaiter, who has owned neighboring 49 Temple Place for two decades. “It’s just up and coming.’’

Temple Place is a microcosm of what is happening in downtown neighborhoods in the Boston area: More and more people want to live near work and be part of a dense, active urban scene. Blocks such as Temple Place that used to go quiet early in the night are now busy with street life because of the restaurants, apartments, and condos that pepper downtown.

Since 2010, three restaurants have opened along Temple Place, the latest being jm Curley, a pub named after Boston’s famous mayor; more than 60 apartments have replaced office spaces on the upper floors of the street. Another nearby building, 60 Temple Place, sold for $10.2 million.

And once 59 Temple is sold, it will probably have its upper floors converted into residences, local real estate specialists said.

The boom in activity is a big affirmation for Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston, who had made revitalizing the Downtown Crossing area a priority. “Nobody’s thinking about the side streets,’’ Menino said. “There’s excitement down there. A lot of new things are happening.’’

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The 16 new apartments at 37-43 Temple Place are unusually large for downtown residences: four bedrooms, two bathrooms rent for $4,000. Building owner Morris Naggar said the units draw young professionals, and all were rented before he even finished construction last September.

“When we first decided to start construction, it got rented within that week, sight unseen,’’ he said. “People saw pictures during construction that went online, or they heard from friends of friends, and they wanted to lease.’’

One of those new tenants is Katie Cowie, 24, who said her apartment is close to her job at gazelle.com, and is surrounded by the bars and restaurants that are popular with her set.

“We can walk a mile in any direction and be at any of the hot spots,’’ Cowie said.

Those spots include 49 Social, a bar and restaurant opened last year by Zaiter in the building he owns at 49 Temple. Jm Curley, meanwhile, is already crowded even though it still does not have a sign out front. General manager Suzanne Dagenais said the bar attracts a steady lunch business, a happy-hour crowd, and those looking for a late brunch on Sunday.

“We figured with Macy’s on one side and Tremont Street on the other, we’re in the middle of a lot of activity,’’ she said. “It’s been great.’’

Temple Place still has a few empty storefronts, but those, too, are quickly being leased. Naggar, for example, said he soon expects to sign a lease with a restaurant for the first floor of 37-43 Temple.

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There is, however, a big hole yet to be filled near Temple Place: the massive Filene’s construction site, which has been idle for four years now. Though its new development team is promising to get back to work soon with a revived building plan, Naggar believes the lack of movement on Filene’s prompted developers and city officials to focus on other, smaller projects in the area.

“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise,’’ he said. “Now there’s momentum and the real basis for building a neighborhood.’’


Gail Waterhouse can be reached at gail.waterhouse@globe.com.