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Friday, October 20, 2006

1330 Back Bay Fens

The Boston Business Journal reported today that real estate developer Samuels & Assoc. is facing potential problems with 1330 Back Bay Fens, its planned 215-unit condominium/retail/office project on Boylston St, near Trilogy. Apparently, construction costs have been steadily rising, pushing the expected cost of the project from $80- to over $100 million, which would make it hard to sell the condos for a reasonable profit. This is making S&A think about possibly making them apartments instead of condos. Everyone knows that rent rates are rising. If they do it this way, they can make the money through lease payments with annual price increases.

Also, S&A convinced the Boston Redevelopment Authority to allow them to reduce the number of low income units from 10% of the units built, to 5%. This will allow S&A to defray some of the added costs of construction to future owners/tenants.

Now, I'm not an urban planner, but I understand that it is a developer's job to improve a neighborhood, and his right to make a decent profit from doing so. I applaud Vordano helping to rejuvenate Downtown Crossing. The thing I don't get is, why this neighborhood? The Fenway area has been traditionally a pretty low rent district. From where 1300 Back Bay Fens is, there are at least eight colleges and universities, Fenway Park and Lansdowne Street. In fact, you can see in this aerial that 1330 is between several colleges and Fenway Park. In a would-be sly marketing move, they didn't even show all the schools in the area, or where Lansdowne St is located, and no where in the full brochure did they mention the fetish clubs a few doors down on Boylston St.

I'm sure, with enough persuasion from the city, the fetish clubs can close of move, but the Lyons Group (that own the majority of Lansdowne St.) have heavy influence within the city, and won't be leaving any time soon. The city considered building a new baseball field for the Red Sox, but reconsidered after enormous public backlash. And the colleges and universities have long-standing ties to the community; no developer is going to get Northeastern or BU to relocate.

With that said, is there truly a market for high end condos or apartments in the Fenway area?


Athalie said...

There is ABSOLUTELY a market for luxury condos in Boston. Anywhere in Boston in fact. The location makes perfect sense with the continual yuppi-fication of the city....

Gradon said...

If what the people from the BRA told Alicia last week is true, then there are the yuppi-fication of Boston is limited to the areas of the city.

Obviously, the Back Bay and South End is already yuppied up.

The South Boston Seapot is getting more yuppified in the next few years.

Downtown Crossing, while getting improved (thanks in part to EM) to be the point of shopping as it used to be, is not to get yuppi-fied, per the mayor.

I just don't see how the gentrification of Fenway is improving it. It's a college/sports/club area, with all the plusses and minuses that go with that.

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