(For more retail coverage, click GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

BOSTON-A special state commission’s recommendation to turn a portion of the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center on Boylston Street into retail space could prove to be a boom for the struggling venue, real estate insiders tell GlobeSt.com. The state commission recommended converting the convention center’s ground level into retail space following a study commissioned by the legislature.

The legislative study came after Gov. Mitt Romney advocated selling the state-owned building because he said it is no longer needed now that the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center has opened in South Boston. In a report released Tuesday, however, the panel found that the city would lose convention business from smaller groups if it sold the Hynes and suggested that the state retain ownership of the building, and convert the first floor to retail.

“Going retail in an extremely strong market would create a fairly substantial revenue stream,” says David Begelfer, head of the Boston chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. “It’s a strong retail location and there would be strong demand for it.”

Retail specialist James Koury, with Jones Lang LaSalle’s Boston office, tells GlobeSt.com that converting the Hynes’ first floor into retail and restaurant space would be a welcome addition to the Back Bay, where retail is thriving.

“It presents a unique opportunity to develop a critical mass of retail in one of the hottest retail areas of the city,” Koury says. “This isn’t something that comes across people’s radar screens very frequently so there certainly would be a lot of interest in it.”

Koury says the street level space would allow a developer to create a separate retail identity while drawing on the synergy created by the Prudential Center shops located next door and other retail locations along Boylston Street. “It’s a hot location that will benefit from all the other retail generated in the Back Bay,” he notes.

Begelfer says that although converting the space would reduce some of the Hynes convention space, the building, which is currently running a $5-million to $6-million deficit, could greatly benefit from the income retail would produce.

The conversion to retail, however, remains in the hands of legislators who must approve the special commission’s recommendations.

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