Looking at the City

Not enough attention can be paid to Starbucks opening its doors here in the mall.

For those of us for whom this city has been our life, the opening of the Starbucks marked a unique moment in Chelsea’s evolution.

I’ve been four times so far since it opened.

Once I sat outside under a nice green umbrella sipping my tall frappuccino.

The other three times I sat inside, surrounded by people using their laptops while sipping from their lattes.

Starbucks has panache. Starbucks has appeal. Starbucks attracts a higher end customer and even here, it attracts customers willing to spend more for coffee products and who want to be in a space that is definitely not Dunkin Donuts.

The interior of the Starbucks at the mall is artfully designed. The bar and back bar are quintessentially Starbucks. There are large walls with what appears to be a tapestry on one and sturdy tables and chairs.

The place is dark and cool, quiet enough for coffee lovers to be reflective or even studious while at the same time having the look and appeal of a place one would never have expected to find here in nearly a lifetime.

Starbucks in Chelsea?

I still find it extraordinary but no longer find it unbelievable.

Up on Admiral’s Hill over the weekend I spoke with an old friend who used to own a substantial business here. He lives on Admiral’s Hill. He’s an educated guy in his late 60’s. He’s spent a lifetime here.

Here’s what he said to me about Starbucks after he asked me if I’d been there.

“It isn’t going to last,” he said.

I railed at the thought. It was such crude and indifferent negativity. I thought, “Could he be right?”

“No. absolutely not.”

“What’s wrong with you?” I asked him.

“How can you be that way?”

He said he didn’t believe Starbucks would last.

Of course, he didn’t believe the Box District would be occupied with tenants, or that the new Demoulas could survive or that Admiral’s Hill could maintain itself as one of the fine developments of its kind in the area or that Chelsea would have two major hotels or that the waterfront on Marginal Street would have a park and be open to the public for the first time in 100 years.

If I had asked him if something like 6,000 people would come to work everyday in office buildings located off Everett Avenue he would have said never.

If I suggested that the former Thomas Strahan property would one day be the site of 200-300 units he would have said no way.

And on and on and on.

Success has many friends. Failure has none.

Success begets success. This is the way it is going in the modern Chelsea.

Starbucks is a symbol of that success and how far this city has come from the depths it was in.

Starbucks is not just a symbol. It is a sign of bigger and better things yet to come.

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