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Why Talent Wants To Be In Downtown Boston

Downtown Boston has undergone an astonishing change in only a few years—think back to the way it was, even in 2000—but that's just the beginning, according to the speakers at our Future of Downtown Boston at the Boston Seaport Aloft. The area's well on its way to being a true a 24-hour city.


Nixon Peabody principal Larry DiCara kicked off the event with opening remarks, noting the transformation of Boston is being driven by a number of factors. Not only do younger people want to live in Boston's urban environment, but they're willing to live in smaller spaces, as long as high-quality public spaces and transit are conveniently accessible.

That might hold true even as they start to have families, and it's also true of empty nesters. It's a 180-degree change in thinking from the previous generation.

The number of people living Downtown will double in the coming 10 years, Larry pointed out. More people are working in less space as well, with the workplace changing dramatically. About 1.8M SF of tech, ad and other info-based companies have moved into Downtown, partly replacing law firms and other traditional companies. Boston fosters entrepreneurial growth, and the new firms are reinventing the Downtown economy.


Our panel speakers explained that the evolution of Downtown Boston as a live/work/play city depends largely on the urban fabric's mix of buildings and retail and streetscapes. Boston, older than most American cities, has an authenticity that draws certain companies and especially their employees: the best of the old structures, along with a modern backbone that modern companies need.

Moreover, the growth of Downtown Boston isn't being driven by foreigners wanting to park capital in condos, but by people who want to live and work here.

Snapped: Synergy Investments managing director Maura Moffatt, Arrowstreet principal Scott Pollack and Related Beal EVP Stephen Faber.


Innovation economy tenants are especially attracted to this mix of old and new buildings, which is one reason that innovation industries are flourishing here, our speakers added. The waves of bright young talent coming from the region's universities see Boston's urbanity as one more reason to stay. Tenants see value in the character of these buildings, as a part of their identity. 

Here's Nickerson PR and Nickerson RE founder and principal Lisa Nickerson, who moderated, Emerson College president Lee Pelton, and Downtown Boston Business Improvement District president Rosemarie Sansone.


Downtown is more than just buildings, of course. Our speakers said that its common space and retail landscape is more important than ever. Resident and tenants Downtown want the chance to connect with each other and collaborate with like-minded businesses, and for that you need places to meet—for a sandwich or coffee or perhaps at a health club. The Boston urban environment is increasingly providing that.

One opportunity here is to create interesting pocket parks—other cities have done this, and these spaces would serve the public, and boost area retail.

The HYM Investment Group managing director Tom O'Brien, Midwood Investments president John Usdan.


The urban fabric is also about the programing in the public space, such as music and festivals and other events. Owners need to support efforts to program public spaces, and be committed to the area, our speakers asserted, because it helps create an urban environment that people want.

Developers also have a responsibility to develop a new buildings without overwhelming the existing urban fabric. If not, that isn't in the interest of the community, or in the developer's interest in creating a successful building. Maintaining the unique urban fabric is critical to what makes Boston, Boston.

DeSimone Consulting Engineers CEO Stephen DeSimone, Trans National Properties president Justin Krebs and Finegold Alexander Architects principal Tony Hsiao.