Emerson President Lee Pelton spoke with civic and business leaders March 26 about the importance of collaboration in building up the Downtown Crossing neighborhood of Boston, an area where Emerson has invested heavily over the years.
“This wonderful complex in which we are meeting today—the Paramount Center—opened in 2009 and is Emerson’s most recent contribution to the re-invigoration of Washington Street,” Pelton said during the meeting that was organized by NAIOP Massachusetts, a real estate development advocacy organization.
Pelton took part in a panel discussion that included Peter Meade ‘70, director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority and former chairman of the Emerson Board of Trustees; Anthony Pangaro, principal of Millennium Partners, a private real estate development firm undertaking a $620 million skyscraper project in Downtown Crossing; and Rosemarie Sansone, president of Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID) Corporation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 that represents the interests of more than 500 properties in Downtown Crossing. It was moderated by Paul McMorrow, associate editor of CommonWealth magaizine.
Pelton noted the strong relationship Emerson has had with the Downtown Crossing and Theatre District neighborhoods since the College’s purchase of the Ansin Building on Tremont Street in 1992. That’s when the campus migrated away from its buildings of the Back Bay, which have been converted into luxury condominiums whose owners are contributing to Boston’s property tax base.
“Emerson invested more than $500 million into the neighborhood,” Pelton said, “converting vacant lots, a shuttered theater and run-down office buildings into a vibrant academic community and giving the theater-loving public multiple new venues.”
Pelton said the future of Downtown Crossing should intertwine several aspects, including quality architecture and thoughtful urban planning, green-minded development, public art and cultural initiatives, community gathering spaces, cultural diversity and inclusiveness, natural beauty, reasonable cost of living and a “cool factor.”
“Emerson College and Suffolk University students, faculty and staff are here every day and bustle about their business from before dawn until well into the night,” Pelton said, “bringing life and activity to the sidewalks and retail establishments. Large numbers of Bostonians are increasingly deciding to live in this neighborhood.”
“Emerson College is a hub of creativity and innovation,” Pelton continued. “We benefit greatly from our Boston location and work to contribute to the city’s growth and to the development of the creative economy of this great city.
“As the College develops and executes its plans for the future in its next 10-year Institutional Master Plan and its Campus Master Plan, we look forward to working with the City and the community.”