Turning A 9-To-5 Neighborhood Into 24-7 Developers Changing Face Of Financial District

Banker & Tradesman | By Steve Adams
October 26, 2014

Quaker Lane“Financial District Becomes Shopping And Dining Destination” would fit nicely into any list of unlikely Boston headlines.

Never an after-hours magnet, the central business district increasingly has become an afterthought in recent years as Fort Point became a go-to restaurant row and Downtown Crossing got an image upgrade as home of the $600-million Millennium Tower luxury condo project.

But developers are now looking at Financial District properties as ripe for a new direction, with designs to add outdoor cafes, ground-floor shops, a hotel and residences to a neighborhood that tends to empty out after business hours.

Related Beal Cos. is moving forward on Congress Square and its plan to reposition an entire city block near the corner of Congress and State streets, after acquiring five office buildings totaling 343,000 square feet from Fidelity Investments last December for $59.2 million.

Quaker Lane, a private alleyway that loops between the buildings, would be converted into a pedestrian mall lined with cafes, and four of the five structures would become residences and a hotel with ground-floor retail.

Two-thirds of the 55,000-square-foot retail spaces will be occupied by bars and restaurants, said Stephen Faber, executive vice president at Related Beal. The remainder of the potential tenants range from fitness clubs to home goods and apparel chains.

“Interest has been very brisk,” Faber said. “Some of the space has spectacular two-story 20-foot ceilings that could easily be a white tablecloth, high-end restaurant, and there could also be a number of bistros that are more grab-and-go with exterior seating on Quaker Lane.”

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