Thomson Place Retail Activation Project
by Nathan Turner
You may have heard the buzz surrounding Thomson Place, a collection of brick-and-beam properties that serves as a bridge between Boston’s historic Fort Point neighborhood and the glittering new construction of the Seaport District. A retail activation and streetscape project, not many know the history of the neighborhood (think industrial warehouses that stored merchandise freshly unloaded from the docks for some of Boston’s premier purveyors) and what it took to renovate these buildings with respect for the past, and the future in mind.
With available space at a premium in Boston, especially in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, Invesco Real Estate and Crosspoint Associates, Inc., and the team at Margulies Perruzzi (MP) came to the table with plans for the restoration and repositioning of three historic buildings at 25, 44 and 50 Thomson Place. With the conclusion of multiple tenant leases in the buildings, the development team saw the opportunity to convert ground-floor office space to street-level retail, restore the buildings’ architectural luster, and create an active streetscape that reflects the dynamic character of the Fort Point neighborhood.
Steeped in history, MP’s design preserved the historic warehouse aesthetic while lowering the floors and window openings to provide accessibility and create sight lines and visual connection from the street. The giant openings once used for unloading goods became glass façades with lighting and signage to draw people into retail and restaurant establishments. To energize and enliven the streetscape, sidewalks were widened in areas to encourage pedestrian traffic, and a new 8,000sf plaza with open green space was created as a public amenity for dining and performance art. MP and the development team took great care in respecting the historic context of the neighborhood while activating a new retail area that attracted some big name tenants such as Trillium, Trader Joe’s, One Kings Lane and Bar Taco.
“Thomson Place presented a unique opportunity to embrace the authentic character of Fort Point and create a new ‘pocket’ neighborhood on the cusp of the Seaport District,” said John Kiernan, director, asset management for Invesco Real Estate. “MP’s design stayed true to the architectural spirit of the original structures and helped us modernize three historically significant buildings with the 21st century infrastructure sought by office and retail tenants.”
This former industrial district is now filled with housing, art studios and galleries, offices, upscale restaurants, and trendy bars and cafes. Thomson Place is a great example of renovation designs that created new ground-floor retail space and a new pedestrian plaza to establish a vibrant retail and dining destination.
View a video profile of this historic retail renovation here.
Nathan Turner, AIA LEED AP is senior project manager and associate partner at Margulies Perruzzi.