Off Target in Downtown Crossing

Could Target be the store to come in and save Downtown Crossing? The Herald reported last week that the big box retail chain is seriously interested in filling the Daniel Burnham building, the old Filene’s structure next to our big hole (of the original four Filene’s buildings on the site, two were totally knocked down, one was mostly knocked down, and the last, the Burnham building, was mostly left standing). The Herald reported:

Sources told the Herald that real estate officials from the Minneapolis-based retail giant have toured the landmark building at the corner of Summer and Washington streets several times in recent weeks and are considering making an offer on the one-time Filene’s property, which also housed Filene’s Basement.

The 1912 Daniel Burnham building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is expected to fetch about $30 million.

But a deal appears to be less imminent than that Herald story made it seem. I spoke this morning with John Hynes, CEO and Managing Partner of Boston Global Investors, and the developer of the Filene’s site. His message: Not so fast, my friend. “I don’t see that going anywhere. We haven’t heard back from them,” Hynes said of Target. Though he added, “I can say they’ve expressed an interest in the real estate.”

While original plans for the site called for one giant development to fill the block between Summer, Washington, Franklin, and Hawley streets, Hynes says there has been talk of splitting the parcel, with a retailer like Target coming in to fill the Burnham building. But the issue so far, Hynes explained, is that it doesn’t make sense for a business to move into the Burnham building until some decision on what to do with the giant hole next to it is made. Because, you know, if you’re trying to attract customers, giant holes tend not to make for the best neighbors.

“We’ve had a number of parties interested in converting the building itself into a use, but I think one of the stumbling blocks with the real estate is that it’s impractical to think that someone’s going to renovate the Burnham Building unless there’s a solution found for the development site. It’s got to be a package deal,” he said. It could be two different buyers for the hole and the adjacent building, he added, but a coherent plan will still have to come together at the same time.

In the meantime, you might try the Target in Dorchester or Somerville.