The hole in Boston’s Downtown Crossing will finally be filled. For real this time, they say. Now that developer Millennium Partners has committed to a $500 million mixed-use project at the former Filene’s site, residents, businesses, and city officials are eagerly anticipating what will heal the massive scar in the heart of what was once the city’s prime shopping district.
So far, Millennium has provided few details about its intentions at the corner of Washington and Franklin streets. Details haven’t gone beyond talk of a tower as tall as 600 feet with residences, offices, and stores. But after years of staring at a crater, other people have plenty of ideas about what they want there, and what the neighborhood needs to rebuild and revitalize.
“This is the centerpiece of Downtown Crossing,’’ said Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who had repeatedly lashed out at Vornado Realty Trust, the previous lead developer that faced financing problems and never moved forward with work after demolishing the Filene’s building in 2008. “We don’t want low-hanging-fruit retailers. You have to pay attention to the historic roots. I’m trying to be practical. But it’s good to have people dream.’’
Millennium Partners, which declined to comment, is hoping to begin construction within a year, and intends to present a plan in several months. In the meantime, we asked various stakeholders to offer their advice on what kinds of components should be incorporated into the massive project.