As business development leaders discussed the future of Downtown Crossing at Sawyer Business School’s Building Boston 2030 event, Suffolk University students had a few suggestions of their own.
Participants in the Center for Real Estate’s “Student Vision and Design Competition” submitted their ideas on how to revitalize the historic heart of Boston, and on June 13, the top-three teams each won $1,000.
First-place winners Eric Lachance, Alyssa Bartlett, and Nick Schaejbe, focused on the needs of surrounding institutions, including Suffolk University, Tufts Medical Center, and Emerson College.
They advocated for new retailers, such as Nordstrom’s Wegman’s Grocery Store, and Urban Outfitters. They proposed building a Target where the former Filene’s Basement used to be. The large retailer, they said, would provide reasonably priced goods for the many young professionals and college students living in the area.
“The abundance of new student activity would bring new life to Downtown Crossing and create demand for the available retail space. We hope that this would attract popular businesses that would draw more people into the area,” the students proposed.
Brooke Weldon and Derek Domino, who are both Future Investors in Real Estate (F.I.R.E.) executive board members, placed second for their idea. Emphasizing the importance of outdoor and nightlife activity, Weldon and Domino called for more street markets, patios, and rooftop restaurants.
“Our vision also included the use of green walls and rooftop gardens that capitalize on the need for sustainability, environmental improvement, and to provide a unique view of Boston Common,” Weldon said.
Downtown Crossing needs to be transformed into a unique and appealing location, Weldon explained. “In order for this area to become a destination it needs to provide something that the rest of Boston doesn’t, so by offering new-age technology and highlighting sustainability through green spaces, it acts as an oasis from the harsh concrete city,” she said.
To capitalize on Boston’s young working professionals and college students, Weldon and Domino recommended creating more residential buildings and dormitories. “I have always thought Downtown Crossing needed some youthful vision to help restore its currently bleak state,” said Weldon.
Lijay Malkah and Michael Sodano placed third. They suggested opening several financially stable retailers that fit the downtown demographic. For instance, they recommended developing Dick’s Sporting Goods store in the former Filene’s site, a Best Buy in the old Borders building, and an Apple Store on Temple Street.
For more information about Boston development, visit Suffolk University’s Center for Real Estate website.