Roche Brothers Will Be Coming to Downtown Crossing As Part of the Millennium Tower Project

Officials broke ground at the site of the mixed-used development on Tuesday.

Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

There was a showering of confetti, general praise for officials who collaborated on such an enormous structure, and chatter about the rebirth of “The Hub of the Universe” during the unveiling and groundbreaking of the Millennium Tower project in Downtown Crossing on Tuesday.

But perhaps the most exciting news for those who attended the mini-gala, hosted by developers Millennium Partners and Mayor Tom Menino, was that the Roche Brothers supermarket company announced it was locked in as tenants of the new building, and would be the first major supermarket to service the area. “You need an anchor,” said Menino of the supermarket chain, which has plans to open sometime in 2015. The mayor said he hopes other businesses will see the same interest in the Downtown Crossing spot, and will be drawn to the location, to help further what he called “the rebirth” of a section of the city that has been home to the hole left by the former Filene’s department store.

The $630 million, 625-foot tower features the landmark 1912 Burnham Building and a new, mixed-use tower, which will include 450 luxury residences and 95,000 square feet of additional retail space.

“The start of construction celebrates the beginning of a new chapter in the history of this historic building and highlights the promising future that is in store for this neighborhood,” said Menino. He added that the height of the structure will serve as a “flag,” seen from all over the city, which will hopefully attract people to the neighborhood.

Millennium Partners received $7.8 million in property tax breaks for the project, something that wasn’t floated to the former developers of the site, Vornado Realty Trust, a company that stalled on their own vision for the Filene’s hole during the recession.

A reporter told Menino that “a source” close to Vornado said the company could have finished their project if they had the same incentives, but the mayor called it “wishful thinking” before cutting off the conversation, and refocusing on the importance of the current development moving forward.

According to the Globe, “the tax incentives will be spread over a 13-year period and will be passed along to retail and office tenants who agree to open on the property.”

Revitalizing Downtown Crossing has been a topic of concern for years, and has been regarded as “a war zone” in the past. In June of 2012, just days after the project was announced for the redevelopment of the former Filene’s site, panelists shared ideas about new retail, housing, office, entertainment, and hospitality opportunities to help “transform and dispel the perception that it is unsafe.” Developers from Millennium Partners said Tuesday that they are seem positive they can turn the image of Downtown Crossing around. At least, that’s the plan. “This is the last obstacle before the rebirth of [Downtown Boston],” said Christopher Jeffries, founding partner of the company Millennium Partners. “I am confident it will become the top place for property and retail.”