Boston's Top 20

Register today!

Our mobile site is optimized for smaller screens.

TRY IT NO THANKS

Every City Has One

Custom Search

Latest Boston Developments

Demo Underway for St. Regis Residences in the Boston Seaport

Courtesy of BLDUP.  Latest Boston Real Estate Development News

 

Demolition of Whiskey Priest & The Atlantic Beer Garden along Boston's waterfront has begun to make way for the upcoming St. Regis Residences.  Once the bars have been cleared work will start on the 22 story tower that will hold 114 luxury residences. The project also calls for around 10,000 sf retail space and three levels of underground parking.  

Construction is expected to be complete in around 2 years.

About St. Regis Residences, Boston

150 Seaport Boulevard, Seaport DistrictBoston, MA

Upcoming 22-story mixed-use waterfront building in Boston's Seaport District. The St. Regis Residences, Boston will contain 114 residential condominiums. 10,700 square feet of ground and second level retail space and three levels of underground parking. The ground floor space will feature a signature restaurant. A Harborwalk extension will be built around the building. The project will be built at the present site of the Whiskey Priest and Atlantic Beer Garden waterfront restaurants. The following is a rendering of St. Regis Residences, Boston:

Major Boston Developments: 9 Projects Transforming The City.

By tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Boston is famously in the midst of a building boom—and not a moment too soon given the cost of housing in the city

Here are nine major projects under construction that are not only transforming Boston’s built environment, but providing a real-time gauge of its real estate. How these go, so will likely go the commercial and residential markets overall.

1. Fenway Center

Massachusetts Turnpike
Boston, MA 02215

Visit Website

Developers Meredith Management, Gerding Edlen, and TH Real Estate officially broke ground in late January 2018 on the five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet.

The groundbreaking capped veritable eons of planning and readjustments for what’s become one of Boston’s most anticipated projects. Lead developer John Rosenthal of Meredith had been trying to build at the 4.5-acre site for nearly 20 years.

The infrastructural alchemy inherent in the project, which includes building over the Mass. Pike, as well as financing challenges had delayed it interminably.

All totaled, it’s expected to have around 650 housing units, 160,000 square feet of offices, 50,000 square feet of retail, 1,290 parking spaces, community space, a daycare center, bicycle storage, and a bike-share station.

The first phase includes two apartment buildings with 313 units total.

2. The Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences One Dalton Street

1 Dalton St
Boston, MA 02199

Visit Website

The Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences One Dalton Street—a.k.a. One Dalton—is almost finished, according to developer Carpenter & Company.

Workers with Suffolk Construction have raised the condo and hotel tower to its 60th floor and have been adding about one and a half floors per week. That means it will soon reach its 61st and final floor any minute now.

When all is said and done, the 742-foot property will be the tallest new tower in Boston since 200 Clarendon opened in 1976. It’s already the city’s third-tallest building.

And, due to myriad reasons that include construction costs, a dearth of sites, and shadows, One Dalton will likely be the last Boston tower—the last New England tower—of more than 700 feet for a long, long while.

One Dalton is due to include 215 Four Seasons hotel rooms that the international hospitality firm will manage and 160 luxury condos (which Four Seasons will also service). The architect is a collaboration between Cambridge Seven Associates and Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed. Cobb, incidentally, designed 200 Clarendon (formerly known as the Hancock).

One Dalton is expected to top off in July, and to start opening in March 2019.

3. Back Bay/South End Gateway

100 Clarendon St
Boston, MA 02116

Developer Boston Properties plans to build 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail over and around Back Bay Station (and to redevelop the garage at 100 Clarendon Street in the process). 

The Boston Planning & Development Agency signed off on the plans in November 2017, capping well over a year of wrangling, in particular because of the shadows it would likely cast. One of its three new towers is expected to reach 364 feet.

Boston Properties reached a deal with opponents concerned about the shadows just before the November vote. The developer will pay $3 million to opponents such as the Old South Church to mitigate the impact and a further $3 million to an affordable housing fund that Boston runs.

The project is envisioned as a kind of transformative gateway connecting Back Bay and the South End; and includes improvements to the station itself.

Rendering via Pelli Clarke Pelli/Boston Properties

4. The Hub on Causeway 

100 Legends Way
Boston, MA 02114

Visit Website

Developers Boston Properties and Delaware North officially broke ground in January 2016 on the humongous project at the old Boston Garden site. It continues to unfold and is part of a forest of new development around North Station

Ultimately, what’s dubbed the Hub on Causeway will mean more than 1.5 million square feet of shops, restaurants, offices, hotel rooms, and residences, as well as an expansion of nearby TD Garden and transit improvements to North Station.

Phase I is expected to wrap in 2018 (it topped off in January). It includes flourishes such as the city’s largest supermarket; a 15-screen movie theater; 10,000 square feet of outdoor space for a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.”

Phase II will include a 440-unit, 38-floor residential tower and a 260-key, 10-floor micro-hotel; and Phase III is an office tower with a proposed height of 495 feet.

The Hub on Causeway under construction in March 2018.  Boston Globe via Getty Images

5. Bulfinch Crossing

100 Sudbury St
Boston, MA 02114

Visit Website

The ongoing conversion of the 2,300-space garage at 50 Sudbury Street is expected to produce 812 residential units, 196 hotel rooms, 1.15 million square feet of office space, and 85,000 square feet of retail.

Dubbed Bulfinch Crossing, The conversion will produce six buildings with 2.9 million square feet total. (Here is a cool timelapse video of part of Government Center Garage being demolished.)

Interestingly, in the summer of 2017, HYM announced that 118 apartments in the project’s 45-story, 486-unit rental tower were going condo instead—likely a nod to Boston’s incandescent sales market. The HYM Investment Group, the developer behind the project, expects to finish that residential tower by 2020.

6. Winthrop Square Garage tower 

115 Devonshire St
Boston, MA 02109

The Boston Planning & Development Agency in mid-May 2018 approvedthe development of the former Winthrop Square Garage in the Financial District into a 690-foot tower of condos and offices.

The building will be one of the tallest new ones constructed in Boston since at least the mid-1970s, and the BPDA’s approval caps nearly two years of back and forth on its height and scope.

It was once slated to stretch to 775 feet, making it the second-tallest building in Boston—in New England—behind 200 Clarendon. As it looks now, the Winthrop Square tower will still rank among the 10 tallest in the city and the larger region.

But! The BPDA wants developer Millennium Partners to reexamine the 1.6 million-square-foot tower’s size and density before it can get building permits. Whether that reexamination leads to any (other) changes still remains to be seen, though.

As of early July 2018, the BPDA signoff appeared to be the tower’s last major hurdle to development. The garage itself has been demolished in preparation for construction.

Rendering via Handel Architects

7. Omni Boston Seaport Hotel

370-430 Summer St
Boston, MA 02210

What will be the fourth-largest hotel in Boston got officially underway in late May 2018 with a groundbreaking that drew VIPs such as Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Marty Walsh.

The $550 million Omni Boston Seaport Hotel will plant 1,055 rooms on Summer Street across from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in the Seaport District.

The project goes back to 2017, when the Massachusetts Port Authority designated a development team that includes Omni Hotels & Resorts to build on a state-owned parcel in order to boost the room count in an area still underserved hospitality-wise—despite the convention center being right there.

The 21-story complex will include 100,000 square feet of meeting and event space of its own, including the largest hotel ballroom in the Seaport District. Interestingly, too, six local nonprofits will share in the hotel’s profits; and the developers pointed out in the spring of 2018 that the Omni inn will create between 700 and 1,000 permanent jobs.

There is one potential snag for the whole affair, which is supposed to be finished in 2020: Money management giant Fidelity Investments has sued the developers over the name. Fidelity’s own Seaport Hotel opened in the neighborhood 20 years ago.

The two sides continue to wrangle as of early July.

8. EchelonSeaport

133 Seaport Blvd
Boston, MA 02210

Visit Website

Developer Cottonwood Management officially broke ground in June 2017on this 1.33 million-square-foot project on 3.5 acres of very, very valuable land at B Street and Seaport Boulevard. Sales started about 10 months later (and the units ain’t cheap). 

The three-building project is set to have 717 apartments and condos. Its 447 condos will constitute the largest single amount of for-sale housing in the Seaport District. A third tower will have apartments.

EchelonSeaport will include 50,000 square feet of in-house amenities—among them two outdoor pools, a fitness center, and two so-called sky lounges—and a 19,000-square-foot landscaped plaza accessible to the public and 125,000 square feet of restaurants and retail over two levels.

There will also be enough parking in two garages for each condo to have one space. 

The towers are expected to start opening in late 2019.

9. Suffolk Downs 

525 William F McClellan Hwy
Boston, MA 02128

The Boston Planning and Development Agency in early February 2018signed off on plans for two office buildings at the site of the shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack on the Boston-Revere line off the busy, busy Blue Line.

That was the second key approval the site received toward the start of 2018, with the state expediting an environmental green light for redevelopment there. And the city’s zoning appeals board green-lighted the office-building construction shortly after the BPDA approval. 

Why all the thumbs-up? Because if one site in the Boston area is going to host Amazon’s second headquarters, it’s the 161-acre East Boston parcel. The area was among the 20 finalists for that second HQ that Amazon named shortly after the start of 2018.

Come what may, Suffolk Downs developer HYM Investment Group plans to build big, big, big at the juicily located site, near as it is to two Blue Line stops and Logan Airport. With or without Amazon, HYM plans on 16.5 million square feet of new residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades.

Eleven million square feet of that would go in Boston and 5.5 million in Revere.

Rendering via HYM Group

Kenmore Square's Citgo sign development to include two new buildings

by Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Commonwealth Building  Renderings courtesy of Related Beal

Developer Related Beal has filed detailed plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency that would add two new buildings to Kenmore Square—one of which Boston’s most famous sign would bestride. 

The plans include incorporating 660 Beacon Street, which has been holding up the famed 60-foot-by-60-foot Citgo sign since 1965, into one of the new buildings. 

The prolific Related Beal bought 660 Beacon and several other buildings in the area in 2016, touching off speculation that the sign was doomed. 

Organized opposition to its demolition arose even before the sale, when former owner Boston University announced it was putting the buildings on the block. Related Beal and the oil concern behind the sign struck a deal in March 2017 intended to keep the clarion beaming for decades.

And it will likely do so from atop a major office development, as the recently filed details make plain.

Plans include construction of an eight-story property called the Commonwealth Building at the corner of Commonwealth Avenue and Deerfield Street. It would have 130,000 square feet of modern office space, 10,000 square feet of retail, 60 underground parking spaces, and rooftop terraces with what Related Beal describes in a release as “unmatched views of Kenmore Square and the Charles River.”

Beacon Building

As for 660 Beacon, it would be renovated and incorporated into a 143,000-square-foot Beacon Building, per the developer, “an adaptive re-use development that will include more than 110,000 square feet of re-positioned office space and 18,000 square feet of retail space.”

Related Beal expects the office space to go quickly in the Boston-area’s rather scorching office market. It cited a recent brokerage report which concluded that “[office] vacancies in Boston and Cambridge will remain at or near all-time lows.”

The developer wants to start construction during the first three months of 2019. Stay tuned.

 

The Six Boston Neighborhoods and one City Everyone Should be Watching Right Now

By Tom Acitelli of Curbed

darqdesign/Shutterstock

Major projects are driving a lot of change in different areas of the Boston region—in some more than others.

These are the six neighborhoods and one city everyone should be watching right now.


Back Bay 

Rendering via Pelli Clarke Pelli/Boston Properties

The under-construction Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences One Dalton Street—a.k.a. One Dalton—will be Boston’s tallest new building since 200 Clarendon in 1976

The 742-foot tower with 160 condos and a Four Seasons hotel is expected to open within the next 12 months. 

The neighborhood is also due to host a veritable forest of new towers around Back Bay Station

That project, which includes a redevelopment of the Clarendon Garage, is expected to total 1.26 million square feet of housing, offices, and retail, with at least one tower stretching toward 400 feet.

Fenway-Kenmore

Fenway Center renderingRendering via Meredith Management

The 30-story, 340-foot Pierce Boston condo and apartment tower, the tallest building in Boston west of Back Bay, officially opened at Brookline Avenue and Boylston Street in Fenway on March 1. 

Four weeks earlier, one of the biggest—and longest-in-coming—new projects in the Boston region got officially underway: The five-building, 1.1 million-square-foot Fenway Center where Brookline and Commonwealth avenues meet in the Kenmore Square area.

What’s more, the Red Sox are planning to transform several lots around Fenway Park. And, speaking of Fenway Park, its famous neighbor is getting a new name

The South End 

Rendering via ExchangeSouthEnd.com

An absurd rush of new development in the South End’s northeastern reaches is transforming the neighborhood—indeed, it might be time to come up with a new neighborhood name for this area.

Together, the fresh projects are adding thousands of condos and apartments, never mind hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail (and, inevitably, thousands of residents).

Then there’s the recent proposal for redeveloping the 5.6-acre site of the former Boston Flower Exchange. What’s now dubbed the Exchange South End would run to nearly 1.6 million square feet and contain four new buildings.

These buildings would total more than $1.48 million square feet of commercial, technology, and life science research space—the idea is to rival other regional commercial hubs such as Kendall Square and the Seaport.

Finally, a “millennial resort” is headed to the still-emerging Ink Block development. Don’t get more game-change-y than that. 

East Boston

Rendering of Suffolk Downs via HYM Group

A wave of new development is sweeping much of Eastie, but no single development—or potential development—is as portentous as what’s unfolding at the 160-acre site of the shuttered Suffolk Downs racetrack. 

It’s there that owner HYM Investment Group has put forward a general redevelopment plan with two paths. Both paths include 16.5 million square feet of new residential, retail, office, hotel, and lab space built out over as long as two decades. (Eleven million square feet of that would go in Boston and 5.5 million in adjoining Revere.)

Now, should e-retail sasquatch Amazon pick Boston as host of its second headquarters, HYM would go with a so-called pro-commercial approach.

That pro-commercial path would be paved with the up to 8 million square feet of office space that Amazon is seeking in a new HQ. It would, too, include 7,500 residential units, 550,000 square feet of retail, and up to 830 hotel rooms.

But suppose Amazon choose Dallas or some such exotic placeinstead of Boston. In that case, HYM would take a pro-residential path, with 10,000 housing units, 450,000 square feet of retail, and 670 hotel rooms. 

There would also be 5.25 million square feet of office space.

Kendall Square 

Rendering via Elkus Manfredi

Kendall Square-based M.I.T. is driving much of the change in the Cambridge neighborhood.

At the start of 2017, the university paid the federal government a mint to take over the 14-acre Volpe transit center site, and then floated plans for what would be, at 500 feet, the tallest building in Cambridge.

The plans, which won a key zoning approval from the city in October 2017 (and which are rendered above), also call for about 1,400 housing units and 1.7 million square feet of offices and research space as well as acres of new parkland and plazas.

The university, too, plans to build several buildings south of Main Street, including a 28-story dorm.

Finally, there is the bigger-than-expected 19,000-square-foot Brothers Marketplace—part of the famed Roche Bros.’ chain—that is expected to open in the summer of 2019 at One Broadway. It is part of a larger M.I.T.-driven project called the Kendall Square Initiative.

Chelsea

Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism/Flickr

Silver Line service from downtown Boston into Chelsea is expected to start this spring. The five-mile route will run from South Station to a stop just west of Everett Avenue, and will facilitate connections to the Red and Blue lines.

An estimated 8,700 people will use the route daily, a figure sure to further boost Chelsea’s status as a Plan B for buyers and renters priced out of Boston proper.

The route will include an exclusive right-of-way for Silver Line buses once in Chelsea, where there will be four stops total. And, as part of the extension, the state will relocate Chelsea’s commuter rail station westward and spruce it up quite a bit.

Also, there are several small condo projects going up or recently opened in Chelsea, especially in the areas closer to Boston (though with decidedly un-Boston prices).

The West End

Robbie Shade

Enormous new developments around North Station and TD Garden are driving lasting changes to the West End’s streetscape and traffic. 

These developments including the Hub on Causeway, the first phase of which is under construction and is due to include the city’s largest supermarket; a 15-screen movie theater; 10,000 square feet of outdoor space for a new entrance to TD Garden and North Station; and 175,000 square feet of what the developers are calling “creative office space.”

Then there’s the 44-story, 469-unit tower set to rise in place of the Garden Garage

Boston's height limit: Will the city ever pierce 800 feet?

Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

Boston, Downtown, Massachusetts, Scenic

In much the same way that the middle-class is unlikely to enjoy a renaissance in Boston, developers are unlikely to ever pierce 800 feet in terms of building height.

At least not for the foreseeable future.

The city’s tallest building by 2020 will be the same as it is today: 200 Clarendon (the former Hancock), which stretches to 790 feet at its tallest architectural detail, not counting antennae and other apparatus. 

The second-tallest will also be the same, too: The 749-foot Pru. 

The third will likely be new: The under-construction One Dalton hotel-residential tower in Back Bay is slated to stretch to 742 feet at its highest architectural feature. 

After these three, Boston’s 10 or so tallest buildings by 2020 will stretch little beyond the 700-foot mark. 

What’s holding the city back from building to 800 feet, 900 feet, (gasp!) 1,000 feet? The sagas of two arrested developments—both garage conversions, in fact—illustrate the answer.

Developer Millennium Partners had at one point proposed building a 775-foot mixed-use tower, including condos, at the site of the shuttered Winthrop Square Garage at 240 Devonshire Street. (Millennium bought the garage from the city, and originally proposed a still-significant 750-foot project, before bumping that to 775 feet in November 2016.)

Then concerns about the shadows such a tower would cast on landmarks slowed the requisite approvals. Then federal regulatory concerns about the effects of such a height on planes in and out of Logan slowed approvals some more. 

So the height started dropping—first to 702 feet and then to 691 feet at the start of 2018. The project would still pencil out to 1.6 million square feet of space, including 640,000 square feet of condos. But the height, it’s 84 feet off the boldest plan. 

And even with such reductions and a relaxation of state rules governing shadows in Boston’s historic core, the Winthrop Square Garage project remains uncertain nearly 18 months after Millennium reached a deal with the city to acquire the garage. 

Attempts to redevelop another Boston garage stretch back much further than the efforts at Winthrop Square. 

The Chiofaro Co. has owned the 1,380-space Boston Harbor Garage at 270 Atlantic Avenue since 2007, and has been trying to redevelop it pretty much since then.

Previous projects have included a two-tower complex that included hotel rooms and condos—and an ice rink as part of a year-round open space—and a single skyscraper with offices and condos.

Disputes with the neighbors, including the New England Aquarium, have held up the plans, however, and, while the single-tower proposal appeared to take a big step forward last winter, plans still remained up in the air.

That was until February 2018, when the Boston Planning and Development Agency proposed allowing Chiofaro to build a tower as high as 600 feet in exchange for establishing a fund worth up to $30 million to compensate the aquarium for any disruptions and to set aside parking for the institution. 

Chiofaro would also be on the hook for a so-called Blueway extension of the Kennedy Greenway. Moreover, open public space would have to be a sizable part of Chiofaro’s development under the BPDA plan.

All in all, the plan would allow for the tallest tower ever along Boston Harbor. Chiofaro appears amenable to the deal’s terms, including the aquarium’s indemnification against loss of visitors/business.

Still, the tower might yet tarry: The state could take up to two months to review the BPDA plan; then it’s another round of local and state permitting; and Chiofaro hasn’t settled on a final design to even propose.

There is also continuing opposition from the owners in the neighboring Harbor Towers complex.

An amalgam of regulatory hurdles, neighborhood concerns-slash-opposition, seemingly unchangeable infrastructure, and Boston’s simple geography appears to be the insurmountable obstacle to building beyond 800 feet. 

Meanwhile, the city continues to grapple with an infamous housing crunch that causes Manhattan-esque prices and to work overtime to draw and retain commercial tenants

What’d you think? In your lifetime, will you see an 800-footer in Boston? 

Congestion pricing in Boston: Has its time arrived?

By Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston

York City is closer than ever to enacting congestion pricing—that is, charging most motorists a fee for driving in and out of Manhattan’s main commercial districts. 

The idea has the backing of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the sort-of backing, or at least not outright opposition, of New York Mayor (and Cambridge native) Bill de Blasio. Business groups are starting to line up behind it, and even ride-hailing apps such as Uber are saying they wouldn’t have a problem with the fee. 

The idea behind congestion pricing is simple: To reduce vehicular traffic in congested areas by making it a cost-benefit analysis rather than a routine for drivers. Go in and about only if you absolutely need to—otherwise, take public transit, bike, or walk. 

In New York’s case, too, the revenue from congestion pricing under the most recent proposal would go toward paying for much-needed repairs to the region’s public transit system, particularly the subway.

You know what other region needs money for its public transit system, particularly the subway? Yes, Boston. 

The idea of charging drivers a fee for entering the city’s core is not a new one (and highway tolls are already a fact of life here). The idea has been bandied about to the point of mulling where officials might locate cameras to snap cars’ photos for fees.

Beige Book Boston Real Estate 1st Report of 2017

Boston - First District

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

Residential Real Estate
Continuing recent trends, residential real estate markets in the First District showed robust increases in sales and prices relative to last year. Closed sales for single-family homes and condos increased in all six First District states as well as in the Boston metro area (five of the six First District states and Boston reported changes from November 2015 to November 2016; Maine reported on October 2015 to October 2016). Massachusetts recorded the most closed sales on record for the month of November. As usual, many contacts cited falling inventories as an issue: inventories decreased year-over-year in every reporting region. A contact in Massachusetts reported that "with such little inventory, buyers needed to be quick with their best offers from the start."

Home prices also rose year-over-year. For single-family homes, the median sales price increased in every reporting region. The same was true for condos, except in Vermont where prices decreased slightly.

Overall, contacts were optimistic about the outlook for the end of the year and into 2017. Many said rising interest rates would stimulate buyers to make offers at the end of 2016, but they did not expect further moderate increases in interest rates to restrain the region's consistently strong buyer demand.

Commercial Real Estate
Conditions in commercial real estate markets across the First District were stable in recent weeks. Office leasing activity was steady or modestly slower in the region's major metro areas. Investment sales activity and sales prices for prime commercial properties in Boston were also stable, as foreign investors were undeterred by higher interest rates and a stronger dollar. One contact estimated that office rents in greater Boston increased 10 percent on average in 2016. Apartment construction activity slowed in recent months in both Boston and Portland, while office construction was stable at a slow pace in Boston and minimal in the rest of the region.

The outlook among contacts was cautiously optimistic, with significant uncertainty related to domestic politics. Contacts across the District expected capitalization rates to increase in 2017 to keep pace with rising interest rates, noting that such increases imply that rents will have to increase and/or valuations will have to decrease. On balance, contacts anticipated that property values will remain flat in 2017. Apartment construction activity was expected to slow further in coming months as borrowing costs continue to rise and lending terms continue to tighten, but prospects for new office construction appeared brighter for 2017 in light of rising office rents and low office vacancy rates around the region.

Summary of Economic Activity
Business activity continued to expand in the First District at the close of 2016. Both retailers and manufacturers cited modest to moderate increases in revenues in recent weeks compared with a year earlier. Software and information services firms reported strong order increases in the fourth quarter. Commercial real estate markets were mostly steady in the region; in the Boston area office rents increased and sales prices for commercial properties were stable. Residential real estate markets across the region continued to experience increases in both sales and prices. Although none sought substantial additions to headcount, a number of firms reported difficulty finding workers to fill openings. Prices were largely stable. Most responding firms cited a positive outlook, expecting end-of-year growth rates to continue in 2017.

BEIGE BOOK REPORT - JULY 2016

Federal Reserve.gov

Residential Real Estate
Residential real estate markets in the First District remain strong. Five of the six First District states, as well as the greater Boston metro area, reported sales and inventory trends for the period May 2015 to May 2016; New Hampshire reported on trends between April 2015 and April 2016.

Closed sales of single-family homes are up by moderate-to-large margins in every state in the District, and pending single-family sales increased at a slow-to-moderate pace depending on the state. A contact in Rhode Island considers a summer slowdown "unlikely" in light of strong recent sales. Median sales prices for single-family homes are on average up modestly from a year ago--with Vermont and Connecticut reporting moderate price declines and the remaining states reporting small-to-moderate increases. Condominium sales figures varied across states. Closed sales of condominiums are up in all states except Connecticut and Vermont, while pending sales increased in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and decreased in Rhode Island, Maine, and Vermont. As in the single-family market, median condo sales price changes are moderate, with the exception of a large over-the-year decline in Rhode Island. However, a contact in that state believes the decline is likely transitory because the data are prone to volatility.

For both single family homes and condos, inventory is down in every reporting region. In addition, number of days on market decreased from a year earlier in all states reporting such data, as did months' available supply of both single-family homes and condominiums. Contacts continue to attribute the lack of inventory to a combination of lack of new construction and a dearth of sellers coming to market.

Despite persistent inventory issues, contacts are optimistic. Those in Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island all expressed a positive outlook, primarily attributable to strong buyer demand. They cite stable employment figures and continued low interest rates as the key factors supporting such demand.

Commercial Real Estate
On balance commercial real estate markets appear stable or improving in the First District. In greater Boston, a modest slowdown in office leasing is reported, especially for high-rent space, but rents are steady amid low vacancy rates. Office leasing activity held steady at a moderate pace in Portland and Providence, but in Hartford activity remains light and some firms gave up space. Investment sales activity is down in Boston from last year's brisk pace. However, industrial sales activity picked up recently in Boston and parts of Connecticut, and a Portland contact sees a strong industrial property market with potential for new construction. Throughout the District, office construction remains limited in light of high building costs. Infrastructure construction is on the rise in Rhode Island, and hotel construction is planned for greater Portland. A regional lender to commercial real estate reports an uptick in loan demand at his firm amid reduced competition from other lenders. The outlook for Connecticut's commercial real estate market remains somewhat pessimistic based on weak job growth in the state. A Boston contact expects the Brexit vote to exert downward pressure on economic activity in the U.S. and the region, but notes that the vote should also boost foreign investment in Boston's commercial real estate market. Elsewhere in the District contacts are cautiously optimistic for commercial real estate but see risks as tilted to the downside based on global economic and political uncertainty.

Boston's Next Mega Tower

Boston's Winthrop Square Could See One of These Eight Mega-Towers

Courtesy of Tom Acitelli of Curbed Boston.

The Boston Redevelopment Authority just put out the formal call for proposals for redeveloping the city-owned Winthrop Square Garage in the Financial District. Per Tim Logan at the Globe, the BRA is looking an "iconic ... innovative" tower that could run to around 700 feet high, immensely tall for Boston and just under the limit the Federal Aviation Administration mandates because of nearby Logan Airport (no relation).

Eight developers and development teams have already proffered ideas for the garage, and, given the formal request, the BRA now expects more to filter in, including updates of the original eight. This octave gives a good sense of the sheer scope of any Winthrop Square development. Let's dive deep:

  • Millennium Partners, they of the game-change-y Millennium Place and Millennium Tower (Millennium!), pitched a 750-foot spire with 360 residential units and 14 floors of office space as well as 41,000 square feet of retail, including a market arcade. 
  • Thomas O'Brien, a former director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, would turn the garage site into a public plaza and then build a 780-foot tower with 700 apartments and condos across the street in a deal with the Franciscan friars who run St. Anthony Shrine Church. O'Brien would also build a public school. (For comparison's sake, know that the Hancock is 790 feet high.)
  • Accordia Partners would build a 750-foot building with 140 condos, a public gallery, retail and a 275-room Le Meridien hotel (it would join the one near M.I.T. in Cambridge).
  • A team that includes Hudson Group North America, developer of downtown Boston rental Radian, proposed another 750-foot tower, with 156 condos, 288 apartments, a 300-room hotel, public space and retail.
  • Trinity Acquisitions would build a 51-story building with 276 hotel rooms, 328 apartments and 261 condos.
  • The Fallon Co., which is behind so much of the recent construction in the Seaport District, pitched two buildings connected by a podium. One would be 75 feet and contain apartments; the other would soar to 700 feet, with 32 floors of apartments and 18 of condos. There would also be an open retail concourse.
  • Steven Belkin of Trans National Properties, who once proposed a 1,000-foot tower at the site (yup), is back with a 740-foot pitch now. It would include apartments as well as 100 condos (built by McMansion kingpins the Toll Brothers). There would also be a retail galleria; an "Innovation Sculpture Park"; and an "Innovators Walk of Fame." Belkin would also build on an adjoining site he owns at 133 Federal Street.
  • Finally, Lincoln Property Co. would build a 47-story tower with 29 floors of offices, a hotel with at least 250 rooms, six floors of condos and retail.

Developers have six weeks now to pitch the city. Stay tuned.