Boston mayor announces plans for revitalizing downtown

by Liz Hughes

A new report from the city of Boston and the Boston Consulting Group outlines the challenges facing Downtown Boston and offers a set of initiatives and recommendations for revitalizing and reimagining the neighborhood. 

The announcement includes the relaunch of the Boston Planning & Development Agency’s PLAN: Downtown following a two-year pause due to the pandemic. PLAN: Downtown will relaunch the planning process for the area for further development. 

According to a release from the mayor’s office, the plan includes a focus on creating more downtown housing and new zoning to support that housing, along with open space and small businesses. 

Mayor Wu said the vision is for downtown Boston to be a space where people from all backgrounds come together.

“Together with the restart of PLAN: Downtown, this report presents a roadmap for a truly inclusive, round-the-clock neighborhood filled with new homes, diverse businesses, world-class public spaces, vibrant nightlife and a thriving arts and culture scene,” she said. 

The report found that post-pandemic, downtown Boston went from being one of the city’s busiest neighborhoods with heavy foot traffic from thousands of office workers to a very different one. Today that foot traffic is 40% below where it was pre-pandemic, as office vacancies continue to rise. However, an increase in foot traffic on the weekends is demonstrating “non-office” uses of the area are bouncing back. The report includes a detailed analysis from BCG to help understand how the pandemic affected foot traffic and economic activity.

The report further outlined Boston’s visions and primary policy goals and high-impact actions under consideration for revitalizing the neighborhood. The goal is to drive the downtown’s economic recovery while focusing on equity, resilience and new opportunity. 

Segun Idowu, Boston’s chief of economic opportunity and inclusion, calls the report “another example of the seriousness with which this administration is taking the issue of revitalizing one of the most important areas of our city: our Downtown.” 

“I am grateful to our colleagues across City Hall and all of the stakeholders who provided valuable input on the work we can do together to strengthen local small businesses, attract visitors from across our neighborhoods and the world, and transform our commercial core into a vibrant, more inclusive community,” Idowu said.

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