by Rick Winterson
It’s more than just a rumor. A Trader Joe’s may be coming to South Boston’s Fort Point/Seaport District, into an empty building on the border between Fort Point and the South Boston Seaport. We don’t have many details here at South Boston Online just yet. All we know at this time is that a formal inquiry has been made to the City of Boston Zoning Board about establishing a retail grocery store. It was made by a Trader Joe’s agent; it’s to be situated in an empty (but renovated) building at 44 Thomson Place.
Thomson Place stretches between Congress Street and Seaport Boulevard. The intersection of Thomson Place and the Boulevard is closed to automobile traffic but is open for pedestrian access. We have attached more photos than usual (5) for such an article, because it’s worth knowing what the potential new Trader Joe’s neighborhood looks like. It’s a “red brick” historic zone that harks back to the New England wool industry during the Civil War. Parking, of course, is quite limited, but the Silver Line’s Courthouse “T” Station is only a few steps away. At this time, the area around Thomson Place has remarkably varied occupants – from upscale technical offices to a brewery (Trillium), artists’ studios, the Children’s Museum, and the new Shrine to Our Lady of Good Voyage.
There is certainly a need for a grocery store in the overall Seaport/Fort Point area that centers on Thomson Place – no such establishment exists right now: You can order an elegant carrot cake nearby, but you can’t buy a bunch of carrots. The closest large, varied groceries would be Foodie’s on West Broadway (nearly a mile away) and the two Stop & Shops located on East Broadway and in the South Bay shopping center. Certainly, auto traffic to 44 Thomson Place would be highly congested and parking there is (very) limited, but perhaps delivery services for larger orders could be offered. And of course, it’s just a few minutes’ walk from a lot of new residences. And many more are to come.
South Boston Online doesn’t know how much space would be occupied at 44 Thomson Place, if Trader Joe’s moves there. But the “footprint” of the 44 Thomson Place building is approximately 10,000 square feet, which is the average size of the Trader Joe’s stores now. In fact, the Trader Joe’s in Copley Square (the smallest in their entire 500-store chain) has less than 5,000 square feet – it’s always jammed. Not only does 44 Thomson Place seem large enough, it also has two full stories and a cupola to its roof. Can you imagine a multi-story Trader Joe’s in South Boston that has a roof garden as well? In addition, there appears to be enough empty space for a future Trader Joe’s expansion into 36 Thomson Place. And the 44 Thomson Place location, with a modernist park right next door and a rapidly growing Seaport District nearby, is absolutely smashing! Stay tuned – We will keep you posted.