Reconstruction of Boston's Historic Filene Building Begins Soon

Paul Fournier | September 28, 2010

Boston, Mass. – The $370-million reconstruction of historic Filene’s building in Boston’s Downtown Crossing section will soon be underway with the recent announcement that Suffolk Construction has been selected to provide preconstruction and demolition services. The Boston contractor is working with building developers, Vornado Realty Trust and Gale International LLC, and architect Elkus/Manfredi, to prepare the way for the project, which includes select demolition and renovation of three connected historic buildings in the heart of the city and the construction of a 38-story tower.

Said to be one of the most challenging and complex building projects in the city’s history, Filene’s redevelopment poses tight site restrictions, intricate phasing, sensitive demolition, complex foundations and historical renovation requirements for the team. When completed in August 2010, the 1.5-million-square-foot, mixed-use complex will include five and a half levels of below-grade parking, the return of the flagship Filene’s Basement store, office space, a hotel and condominium residences.

Built in 1912, the present Filene’s store has been designated a historic landmark and will be preserved as part of the project, together with an even older building — circa 1905 — situated across the street. Established in 1908 as a discount outlet to sell excess merchandise from the main store, the Basement is famous for its pioneering Automatic Mark Down System, where items are marked down in increments after specific periods of time. When the new Filene’s building was opened in 1912, it had direct subway access to Summer Street Station (now called Downtown Crossing Station), and local newspaper ads referred to the store as the Tunnel Bargain Basement.