In October 2004, Mayor Thomas M. Menino launched the Downtown Crossing Economic Improvement Initiative (DCEII), signaling a renewed commitment to the beloved but tired neighborhood. The initiative is led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). Although more than 230,000 people a day pass through- the areas market position had slipped from number 1 in 1988 to number 10 in 2004, as competition rose from adjacent districts noted above. In recognition of this competition the city decided to invest significant resources in shaping the future growth of the district, including defining the brand and identity of the area.
Since 2004, numerous City agencies, including the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), Inspectional Services Department (ISD), Public Works Department (PWD), and Basic City Services Department have worked together to ensure that physical upgrades occur. Since the initiative’s inception, a streetscape improvement plan has been implemented; Sidewalks and streets have been repaired, and new trash receptacles, big belly trash/compacters, and acorn lights have been installed. As part of the initiative, Project Place, a non-profit organization located in the South End that assists homeless and low-income citizens, was contracted by the business organization in the district (Downtown Boston Business Improvement District) to supplement cleaning the sidewalks and streets for five days a week.
The DCEII consists of two components: short term and long term efforts. The short term component has focused on immediate actions including the cleanliness program, enhanced enforcement of regulations, new plantings in the district, and seasonal promotions & programming. The long term component included the Branding and Identity Strategy for Downtown Crossing, which was kicked off in late 2006 and completed in May 2008 (see link above). The strategy aims to build on Downtown Crossing’s assets and direct change, draw from successful downtowns around the world, capitalize on trends and incorporate innovations into planning for the district, and craft solutions that are unique to Downtown Crossing & Boston. The effort included a number of recommendations which have been implemented, including signage regulations/ design review process and the formation of Boston’s first business improvement district, the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, which began operating in March 2011. Links to the relevant documents are included below.