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When there’s nothing left of a city’s famous landmark but a gaping hole

Filene's before demolition

There’s an article in the 9/12/10 New York Times about how the recession has impacted one of Boston’s major landmarks: Filene’s Basement, “where generations of Bostonians tussled over cut-rate designer clothes in a dingy but fiercely loved downtown store.”

The Times says, “In its place, a $700 million tower was to rise with offices, condominiums, a hotel and a new Filene’s for the bargain hungry. But the recession halted the project, possibly for good, leaving Boston with a deserted construction pit in one of its busiest neighborhoods.”

So what does a city do when a famous landmark is wiped from the city streets, and the tower that was to rise in its place is sidelined due to money problems?

The hole that used to be Filenes

Well the developers wanted to scale back the project, and put up a more modest building in its place. The mayor of Boston nixed that idea. Apparently he isn’t aware that the recession has major projects all across the country being downsized or cancelled completely. Projects are just plain lucky these days to get any funding at all. Those that are taking place are going about with smaller budgets, and are lucky to get what they get in financing.

So I guess the mayor would rather have a big hole in the ground than a smaller version of the $700 million tower?

Boston is not the only city feeling the pinch:

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“In Providence, R.I., a crumbling brick facade is all that remains of the landmark Providence National Bank building, which was razed in 2005 to make way for a now-canceled residential tower.

Seattle lost a beloved example of midcentury modern architecture, a curvy-roofed building that most recently housed a Denny’s restaurant, to the wrecking ball in 2008; it is still waiting for the condominiums and shops that were to open.

Other cities, including San Diego and San Francisco, have so many empty lots that officials have discussed filling them with temporary tree farms, parks or public art.”

So what do you do with a razed construction project and no money? Do you leave it an open pit? Fill it with grass and make a park? Wait for the market to rebound and then build as planned?

Generations of Bostonians will never know the beauty of the century old building that has been razed. The classic architecture, an icon of Boston, is forever gone. It’s just too bad it was flattened for nothing.

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Written By

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Ruthmarie Hicks

    September 13, 2010 at 1:42 am

    Wow – This reminds me of the wasteland that was the GM plant in Sleepy Hollow NY. 100 acres roughly – beautiful prime land located right on the Hudson. Coveted Hudson River views. Right near several historic landmarks (including the famous Headless Horseman Bridge) and the hiking trails of the Rockefeller Preserve. But Sleepy Hollow has a problem. So much of it is consumed as nature preserves and historic landmarks – that there is little commercial activity and as a result, property taxes are through the roof.

    Sleepy Hollow desperately needs the revenue that could result from development of this parcel. Just one problem – the whole project has been mired in a legal battle for about four years. The neighboring village sued Sleepy Hollow because they felt said development would so clog the roads that it impact their business district. In this case, the developer wanted a larger development to get more bang for their buck. They sued Sleepy Hollow for trying to cut back on the size at the last second. And on and on it goes…..

  2. Homes In Pasadena

    September 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    There’s a saying, “you make plans, and then life happens”. Well we’ll see how long Bostonians are OK with their gaping hole. Maybe the mayor will start getting pressure from his incumbents.

    Thanks for the article.

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