A new hub for innovation downtown
District Hall is officially open. Almost.
An anchor for entrepreneurs
The extended kickoff continues Thursday with a party to christen the new $7 million facility, whose coffee shop, restaurant, and meeting and event space are designed to make it the centerpiece of Boston’s Innovation District.
Never too many parties
Didn’t we already have a big party at District Hall three weeks ago? Yup.
Ok, well, maybe sometimes
And wasn’t it already hosting events two weeks before that? Uh huh.
But this is the real deal. Kind of.
This shin dig, however, is the real deal. Except that District Hall technically begins full operations next month.
It’s all worth it in the end.
It’s hard to resist poking fun at the long launch, but it’s also hard to deny that the place is cool. Reporters and other invited guests got a preview Wednesday night (yes, another one), and I think most of us could easily envision the 12,000-square-foot, industrial chic building fulfilling its mission to be a shared resource for the city’s innovation community.
Building on a strong legacy
In some ways, the communal vibe resembles the feel of the Cambridge Innovation Center, which makes sense since Mayor Thomas M. Menino tapped CIC founder Tim Rowe to start District Hall. The CIC’s nonprofit arm, the Venture Café Foundation, will run day-to-day business with executive director Carlos Martinez-Vela leading the way.
Some much-needed fuel
But unlike the Cambridge Innovation Center, which hundreds of startups call home base, District Hall will have no permanent residents, besides Gather, the restaurant, and Brew, the coffee shop, which also serves beer and wine. Both are owned by The Briar Group of Brighton, and the tasty hors d’oeuvres their kitchen put out Wednesday suggest they could become hot spots in no time.
A different model to bring the city together
Instead, the city will make District Hall available to local businesses, schools and civic groups in need of space for meetings and special events. Martinez-Vela told me rental fees will be adjusted according to a group’s means, with the aim of making the building accessible to everyone.