Congress Square Plan to Add to Downtown’s Makeover

Posted April 10, 2015 by Lindsey Day in Downtown Boston
Congress Square

A new plan from Related Beal proposes to turn a few bland office buildings near Faneuil Hall into a vibrant commercial complex offering a mix of boutiques, restaurants, residential apartments, and hotels. With DTX pretty much transformed completely from what it once was, this could be the next neighborhood to revitalize as Boston evolves. The one-acre project encompasses a stretch of Water, Devonshire, and Congress streets and has been termed Congress Square.

The Making of Congress Square
Related Beal has held these properties since December 2013, but the former owner Fidelity did not move out until late 2014. Now, the Congress Square/Quaker Lane renovation project can really get back on track and the area once reserved for banks can be transformed into something that all Bostonians can enjoy. Acknowledging the delays, downtown Boston BID President Rosemarie Sansone said, “We still have a ways to go, but the transformation people have been waiting for is finally happening.”

Right now, Related Beal is seeking development permits for all of the buildings, but may outsource some redevelopment to other service providers. Fidelity’s old Water Street compound is going to be transformed and rented to other business while the Congress Street property will become another boutique apartment complex. Two new buildings are also going up on Congress Street.

The Devonshire Street property, currently a parking lot, will be made over into a 13-story boutique hotel. Heads up, guys – that’s an unlucky number!

When complete, each of these buildings will have a large glass-front shop on the ground floor, opening right up onto Quaker Lane. “These buildings and this location present us with the opportunity to . . . create a real destination,” Related Beal’s executive Vice President Stephen Faber said.

Faneuil Hall Foot Traffic

Faneuil Hall Foot Traffic

Quaker Lane’s Makeover
Right now, Quaker Lane is a quiet downtown thoroughfare that, aside from connecting Washington and Congress Streets, doesn’t really do much. Related Beal’s project filing documents state as much, noting that, “Quaker Lane will be transformed from an under-utilized service way into an exceptional pedestrian experience, lined with boutiques, cafes and restaurants, nightlife attractions and distinct retail venues.”

The redevelopment project would add restaurants, shops, and other draws and really help to blend the Post Office Square area with the evolving Faneuil Hall area. In keeping with the sort of colonial charm preservationists love about Boston, Quaker Lane would even be redone in cobblestone pavers and become a pedestrian-only zone with outdoor seating areas and overhead lighting.

When all is said and done, the redevelopment will make the area a 24-hour destination instead of just a 9-to-5 part of town. The end result will be another vibrant mixed-use experiment that caters to the needs of residents and business owners while maintaining an open and airy feel. An artists’ rendering of the converted Quaker Lane certainly looks exciting.

Related Beal plans to start work in the area in the fall of 2015, and hopes to have it complete by 2017. We know that delays can arise, but we think the project overall will complement the rest of downtown Boston’s redevelopment and make the city even more of a draw for travelers, commuters, and residents alike!

If you’ve steered clear of Faneuil Hall unless relatives from out of town came to visit you, this redevelopment project just might change how you feel about the area as it provides travelers, tourists, students, and downtown Boston residents with more reasons to spend time in the area. This exciting redevelopment project is certainly something to keep track of – and we’ll update you on the project’s progress as things continue to evolve.