McMorrow wishes the space had become anything else (even a “multi-level roller disco”), but the Walgreens fortress is a logical outcome of the shopping district’s shift from what could be called hard retail (books, clothes, appliances) to the soft goods of junk food and skin creams. I wrote about this trend for the Globe in 2011 (“Next Stop, Downtown Noshing”) and tried to take an optimistic view: “The city has always been about the spaces where people can run into each other. So cocktail bars and food trucks will fill the gap left by Filene’s Basement and Tower Records.” Walgreens tests that optimism; miles of too-sugary energy drinks and potato chips do not serve the same function as a corner bar.
If we can’t get that roller-disco, we can hope that a medical-marijuana dispensary will open in the multi-story space that’s been vacant since Barnes and Noble abandoned it in 2006. At least its customers can take advantage of the abundance of junk food in the area.
A dissenting view from the Boston Business Journal's George Donnelly: "It puts more people to work in the neighborhood. It’s open 24 hours. It’s a positive step forward, although not a huge one."