Downtown Crossing: Like Times Square, Only Different?

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Photo: istockphoto

Today reporters at the Herald contemplate a totally legitimate question that's been plaguing city developers for years: Who or what can make Downtown Crossing cool? One reporter, Jerry Kronenberg, suggests remodeling the neighborhood in the tradition of Times Square ... fashioning it into a kind of Times Square "lite." Leaving aside the fact that Times Square itself has been Times Square "lite" for many years, we're intrigued.

Picture, if you will, "Times Square — without the billboards. Imagine a Downtown Crossing that pulses with life ‘round the clock, attracting tourists during the day, office workers at lunch and everyone at night." Funny, we can recall a time when Downtown Crossing "pulsed" with "everyone" at night. RIP, Combat Zone.

In fairness, Kronenberg has standards. He wants "four- or five-story structures bursting with shops and eateries on the lower floors and a mix of condos and apartments above. Not just any stores and dining spots, but classy shops, bars and restaurants that would stay open late and cater to 20- and 30-somethings." Most importantly, these places would "sell booze, but involve more than just sitting around and drinking. Think Kings, the upscale pub and bowling alley at Dedham’s Legacy Place."

The thing is, "classy bars and restaurants" don't exist in New York's actual Times Square. Unless one considers that massive TGI Friday's the height of fine dining and thinks that Bubba Gump is regal. Upon further reflection, maybe the real winner in such a comparison is Locke-Ober: As the only Old Guard restaurant amid the chaos, it's basically the equivalent of Le Bernardin!

What's the Best Plan to Resurrect Downtown Crossing? [Herald]