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Filene's Site to Be Filled! Ritz Developer Behind New Tower

Ritz Carlton and Hayward Place developer Millennium Partners will partner with Vornado Realty Trust to build a large mixed-use tower at the old Filene's site in Downtown Crossing, thus ending one of the biggest brouhahas in recent city memory and perhaps paving the way for a $1 billion casino at Suffolk Downs in East Boston. The Globe's Casey Ross has the details on the mother of all recent Boston towers:

City officials said several retail stores and restaurants will be built at the base of the building, with offices and residences above. The broad outlines suggest a project of similar scale to the original 39-story complex Vornado tried to build, although officials said it will probably be slimmer and taller. ... With Millennium in charge, city officials said they expect a revised development plan for the property will be submitted for approval within 60 days, and that they hope construction will resume within a year. ...

The new building by Millennium will be designed by architect Gary Handel, who also drafted plans for the Hayward Place building. His firm, Handel Architects LLP of New York, has designed skyscrapers around the globe, including the Aire residential building, a striking 42-story on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami, and The Trump Soho Hotel in New York [and the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan].

The Vornado-controlled vacant site has been a pebble in the shoe of Mayor Menino since development there froze amid the credit crisis in 2008, mucking up Hizzoner's touting of the renaissance going on in Downtown Crossing (a renaissance partly due to Hayward Place). Menino has heaped opprobrium upon Vornado chairman Steve Roth, who once bragged to a New York audience that he was letting the site lay fallow to spur public incentives for development. The new deal, set to be announced this morning, puts Millennium Partners clearly in charge, with Vornado in a junior role and its old partner, JPMorgan Chase, getting bought out.

The deal also might mean that a new casino moves forward at Suffolk Downs, the East Boston racing complex owned partly by Vornado. For a couple of months now, rumors have flown that development at the old Filene's site and a casino at Suffolk Downs were being tied together by the Menino administration, which has officially ignored or dismissed the rumors (despite some very public tie-ins by other pols). Have the proper backs been scratched now? Stay tuned.

· Deal Set for a Tower on Gaping Filene's Site [Globe]
· Vacant Filene's Site Stealing Menino's Mojo [Curbed Boston]
· East Boston Casino, Old Filene's Site Move Further Apart [Curbed Boston]
· Downtown Crossing's Filene's Site, East Boston Casino: Tied? [Curbed Boston]

Old Filene's Site

426 Washington Street, Boston, MA