The Revitalization of Faneuil Hall

Posted March 9, 2017 by Dan Miller in Business
Grand opening of Sephora. Photo by way of the Boston Business Times.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case…the landholder.

Sephora, a French-based retailer specializing in high-quality beauty products, has officially opened the doors to its newest location in Boston on the edge of the city’s historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It is the makeup merchants 17th location in the Bay State, made possible by New York-based real estate firm, Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. who won a bid for the ground lease of Faneuil Hall six years ago.

Ashkenazy released its long-term ‘vision plan‘ for the marketplace in the summer of 2015, presenting a strong argument for much-needed revitalization of the plaza and its buildings. While the project received a fair amount of resistance from the surrounding community, including some of its own Faneuil Hall tenants, the firm pressed forward having eventually received the green light from the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

A key part of their vision plan included finding a new use for a stand-alone structure located just east of Faneuil Hall, across from the steak and seafood restaurant McCormick & Schmick’s. That structure, a greenhouse famously remembered as a bustling florist in downtown Boston for years, was outdated and partially broken down, leading Ashkenazy to raze it to the ground. What was built in its place is nothing short of brilliant.

The new building, a sprawling 5,670 sq. foot space, has an ultra-modern design complete with a 360-degree glass facade that waves like an ocean. It was engineered to look like a leaf from above, paying homage to the site’s former longtime resident. The structure is giving a vital facelift to the colonially constructed marketplace, which hasn’t seen much redevelopment in the last few decades.

The emergence of Sephora to Faneuil Hall fills a gap in the marketplace that some say has been missing for quite some time. The cosmetics giant, which touts itself as a leader in global prestige retail, is owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and offers a wide-range of makeup, skincare, and fragrance brands. They curate their collections with care, bringing consumers only the best made products and offer a level of expertise that many in the industry are unable to match. With the population of Boston’s young professionals on the rise, Sephora is expected to reinvigorate the shopping area with that demographic.

Ashkenazy seems to be committed to elevating the festival marketplace from it’s former glory. They agreed to lease terms with Uniqlo, a Japanese high-end retailer, opening their first Boston location in October, 2015. The flagship store is located in a second-floor space inside of Quincy Market , and required the eviction of veteran food stall, Al Mercantino, in order to make way for an access elevator to the new retail shop.

Executives and employees of the new Sephora location who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 24th were heard chanting, “Hello Boston! We are Sephora!” After a being asked what they were there to do, the staffers responded again by chanting, “We’re going to make Boston beautiful.”

While it’s positive to see new, modern development restoring parts of the city built in a bygone era, there is also no doubt that Boston was already beautiful. But there’s no problem with Sephora bringing us up a couple of notches, that’s for sure. 

Sephora, Faneuil Hall celebrated it’s grand opening on February 24th. They are located at 7 North Street, Boston, MA 02109. Check out Sephora’s website for hours of operation.