BRA approves apartment tower on land where it wanted a hotel

The Herald reports on the authority's change of heart on 399 Congress St., in part because 60 of the apartments will be the micro-units the city fancies for the Innovation District.



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what's the deal with micro units?

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What is the thinking behind 330-450 sq ft apartments in the "innovation district"? When I was in school I had a 360 sq ft apartment in Allston/Brighton. Now that I have a job as a software engineer for a big tech company, I got myself a 760 sq ft apartment in a complex with amenities. It seems pretty reasonable to me that if you're actually starting to make money you're going to want more space than you had in grad school. I suppose there are a small number of people trying to bootstrap companies at MassChallenge that want to economize as much as possible, but you can't build a neighborhood out of just people running startups. There are going to be plenty of people working for companies like Vertex that are going to be making a good living and looking for something a bit more adult than what they had in grad school.


The micro apartments were supposed to be a way to keep students here after they graduate, offering an affordable option to keep startup tech people living in the city. It would have been a good idea, but leave it to the developers to F that up, with the micro-apts starting around 1699/mo... for 300sf.

What will happen is companies will rent them to use as a cheaper/nicer alternative to hotel rooms for their traveling clients/associates. The units will all get rented, the developers make their money, and the city loses more students after college because the rents are just ridiculous these days.

If they can get that much....

It would have been a good idea, but leave it to the developers to F that up, with the micro-apts starting around 1699/mo... for 300sf.

Effing it up? If they can get that much, that what they'll charge. You'd do the same thing.

missing the point

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You're missing the point here. The city wants these "innovation" units to keep young graduates here after college. Pricing them out of the area is exactly the opposite.

The Point is

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The city and BRA need to get out their pen and learn to say yes, yes, yes while flipping the neighborhood associations the bird. Microunits in a city where demand far outstrips supply for both housing and hotel units are just going to command the same sky high premiums. Even with Meninio’s pie in the sky vision of 20,000 new units by 2020 (or whatever it was) it’s not going to put a dent in prices.

This city (and really the state) need much, much more housing to keep prices down and allow incomes/inflation to catch up with price reality. Otherwise were going to have major problems 20-30 years from now, when the boomers are gone, there assets hit the market at the same time and the next generation is rooted, raising families somewhere else (south/west of us).

Micro units work where there is night life

One reason there is more life in NYC and people out and about is that they have tiny little apartments or lots of roommates that would drive them crazy if they spent lots of time cramped in them. Boston regulations and early closing times discourages socializing, fun, and going out. So, more people living in little boxes with few alternatives just leads to more stress, isolation, depression, and mental illness. Micro apartments are a poor public health policy unless anti-fun policies are relaxed.


so many oppurtunities outside Boston Proper

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there are so many existing two bedroom apartments in Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, Roxbury, Roslindale, etc. that are already built and the rents are $1200-$1400 a month.....seems the city should be focusing all it's efforts on making these areas safer so the college kids will consider living there after they graduate....although this would displace lot's of subsidized renters that are inflating prices in these neighborhoods so maybe the cities politicians don't want to disturb their voting base?

Yes, but....

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If you're young, you want to be where the action is....nightlife, restaurants, etc. That's not outside of Boston Proper. It would be one thing if you could go out in Boston, then have some way to get back to these areas you talk about, but outside of a $30 cab ride, you don't.


Guys, holy crap, I agree with Markk on something! How do I respond?!

:) :P

And yes...

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Mark is exactly right. If they really wanted to encourage younger people to live in the area, build some affordable 2-3 bedrooms that they can share. Most 22 year olds really don't want to live alone anyway.

Data to support?

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Does the BRA have any data to support the notion that 22 year olds actually want 350 sq ft condos in the Seaport District? Or is this all 'if you build it they will come' optimism?

Look on the bright side

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if they don't sell, they be dirt cheap to get someone, anyone in there.

Oh wait, because of how hard it is to build in this city they'll just sit on empty units for years until some shmuck comes along.


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Boston is not New York, doesn't want to be New York, will never be New York (thank God). If you want New York, move there.