Not Just a Downtown Mayor

Brighton, Eastie, Fenway, Roxbury projects all attest to Menino influence

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino seems destined to go down in history as the pioneer who transformed the South Boston Waterfront into today’s booming Innovation District. And he will also be remembered for many gleaming skyscrapers that went up in downtown and the Back Bay over his 20 years in office.

But just as he sought to be both “a downtown mayor” and “a neighborhood mayor,” Menino can point to some major, and long-overdue, developments reshaping neighborhood business districts – from the new New Balance corporate headquarters campus taking shape at Brighton Landing, towers with hundreds of condominiums and apartments filling up the area around Fenway Park, new development on the East Boston Waterfront, and the nearly concluded transformation of the long-vacant Ferdinand Building in the core of Roxbury’s Dudley Square. The Ferdinand Building is to become the new home for the Boston Public Schools administrative staff and have 178,000 square feet of office and retail space.

“Dudley Square's going to be the next Newbury Street,’’ said Jimmy Pettman of Fort Hill, Roxbury, who’s lived in and around the area for over 50 years and knows whom he most credits for what the square’s finally becoming: “I think someone should really commission a statue and put it in front of that building … of Tom Menino. I think it would be the best honor they could give for him,’’ Pettman said in an interview Friday afternoon.

Kevin Phelan of Colliers International, one of the most successful developers in the city and a close personal friend of Menino’s, said throughout Bioston, “The city is a hot place to invest, so he’ll be remembered for that.’’

“I think a lot of people are going to say the waterfront’’ is the chief legacy of Menino development-wise, Phelan said in an interview with NECN’s Greg Wayland. But the mayor should also get some big credit, Phelan said, for what he did elsewhere. “He flattened the city,” Phelan said, in the sense of helping encourage growth that could have been entirely concentrated in the existing central business district to places like Roxbury, the Fenway, Brighton Landing, and East Boston. “He pushed it down and out.’’ 

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