Must be the stainless-steel appliances

A UHub reader who likes keeping up with the local apartment market noticed that a 1-bedroom, 775-square-foot apartment in a building off Rindge Avenue, a ten-minute walk from the Porter Square T stop, is going for $3,500 a month. Now, granted, it has stainless-steel appliances, stone countertops and its own washer/dryer unit. And it's all LEED certified and everything. And this is greater Boston. But still, he's amazed - and wonders if, with prices like that, they throw in utilities.

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    Exactly what gets built now

    Cambridge high density zoning bylaws don't result in more affordable housing supply, just more profit for developers. Yuppies are supposed to drool at how green the apt. is and fork over their green. Notice the bicycles in the photos? Oh, yeah, that's their market. There are more apartments opening soon in the area, where Faces was and on Fawcett St., off Concord Road. Might create a pricing war. Not.

    My Guess Is...

    My guess is your thinking if it was zoned as lower density (I presume low density to give space to cars and big yards), that it would get more affordable. If so, I would doubt it.

    Yes, it would go after a different demographic than the well-paid, environmentally conscious, bike-to-work type. But it they still going to be priced to the sky. Much of the demand is pure location. The only way countering that is by building something anti-demand. Like a metal shack covered with graffiti and... um... razors... really sharp razors. I guess going back in time and build that inner-belt loop can do the trick too.

    Huh?

    First, yeah, I do notice the bicycles in the photos. And they don't make the building look good for bikes. There are bikes locked to a rack outside (good luck with that, in that neighborhood), and there's a bike in the middle of the living room. I like my bike, but you know where I don't want to keep it? In my living room.

    Second, eventually more housing will result in lower prices. That's the "supply" part of supply and demand. The new units might not be the ones that are cheaper, but there are only so many people who can afford a $3k apartment, and I'd prefer if they weren't bidding up the price of triple-deckers.

    And third, calling it "Concord Road" makes me think you're not too familar with North Cambridge.

    For $3500 a month

    I wouldn't be putting my bike in my apartment - I would expect a locked facility set up for that!

    Geesh - the places I toured with my aunt in PDX either had locked bike parking or effectively locked bike parking as the storage units were large.

    One place even had a "low access storage" room for residents to put their road bikes used on the weekends, and a "live storage" area for their everyday city bikes.

    Downtown 1br, 1ba 600-750 square foot condos of similar trim level to that pictured run $200-$250K.

    Note to Markk: Portland has high density zoning, but you don't see those kind of prices. Maybe because it also has protections against the sort of nimby attacks that can really drive up the costs of an as-of-right buildout by both wasting massive amounts of time and demanding trinkets ... and discouraging enough units from being built to meet demand.

    Absolutely Relevant

    Markk blamed "high density zoning" and (by extension) "lack of parking" for the high prices.

    I cited this example because 1) I recently purchased in that market in PDX and 2) Portland has had high density zoning of the type Markk decries for over 40 years, and yet has never seen Boston-style price inflation - at least not of the same magnitude as I've experienced three times in 25 years.

    Your comments betray a real lack of real estate knowledge.

    Of course, weighing in with a personal anecdote that you shoehorn into discussions is not a new trick from you, is it?

    I don't give a shit about density - and neither do people who actually value real estate for a living. You're comparing two markets that have very little in common. Boston Metro is far more valuable than Portland. Ergo, your dollar goes farther in Portland. You get more amenities, space, etc. for you money. What don't you get about that?

    And another thing.

    A fair reading of Markk's post does not indicate he blames high prices on high density zoning. Rather, he stated that high density zoning does not lead to low prices. As in, zoning density has not reduced prices in his experience.

    I have no opinion about Markk's point, because, and this will come as a shock to you, I haven't thoroughly researched the issue and I'm not going to weigh in based on a single real estate transaction that I entered into on the other side of the continent. What I can say with certainty is that you are full of shit and your anecdote about the glorious place you found in PDX (gack) had nothing to do with rebutting Markk's point.

    Admit it, you wanted to brag about some great deal you got for a relative in Portland. That's really the impetus for most of your posts here, no?

    Hizzys be poppin' in Portland too, yo!

    From the latest Punch and JudyMarkk and Swirly show:

    Portland has high density zoning, but you don't see those kind of prices.

    Hmm, how about this apartment?

    1701 SW Columbia St, Portland, OR 97201
    Rent: $3,760/mo
    Bedrooms:1 bed
    Bathrooms:1 bath
    Apartment:932 sq ft

    But you know what? A easy and quick check of Cambridge and Portland listings shows that both the apt in the OP and the one I ref'ed here are clearly far beyond the pale pricewise, and I suspect were put out there by unscrupulous brokers to catch people with more money than sense.

    Not really a fair comparison

    Not really a fair comparison given that the Cambridge address is 775 sqft while the Portland one is 932 sqft. Sure they are both one bedrooms apartments but Cambridge wants $4.52/sqft while Portland only wants $4.03 and it's fully furnished which usually implies corporate housing of some sort or at least short term so it's not an apples to apples comparison.

    Also not a fair comparison

    That apartment in Portland would be the location equivalent to living in a luxury hotel in Copley or on the Common or Garden. Not ten minute's walk from anything.

    It is also advertised like the Cambridge one is: that is, hoping to snare somebody coming out of LA or NYC who wouldn't be the wiser.

    Portland's alleged high density encouragement

    is very over-rated. Portland in reality is not particularly high density, it wouldn't even rank in the top 10, city-wise, in the U.S. A certain California city notorious for it's freeways actually has a much higher density than Portland. Portland doesn't compare to Boston, San Francisco, for two examples, as far as density is concerned. Or even Los Angeles.

    They may be leased

    Just not at that asking price.

    I wonder if that's the price for people looking on the web who don't or can't invest the time to come look for themselves.

    Internet asking prices are typically inflated for that reason. It isn't just a Boston problem, either. When I was in grad school, it was common for someone who was relocating to seek out someone from the area they were planning to move to help filter out the over-priced traps and learn about neighborhoods.

    The lease on our single

    The lease on our single family home was raised 25% this year, and someone (not us) was willing to pay that amount. The new tenants are also picking up lawn care and water which was included in our original lease.

    Real estate sales prices went through the roof this year and its translated into inflated rental prices.

    Cambridge should encourage

    Cambridge should encourage more medium-rise apartment buildings along transit lines, like the ones lining Mass Ave and its side streets between Harvard and Porter (especially closer to Harvard).

    In 1920 it was possible to replace things like this: http://goo.gl/maps/DzYgy with this: http://goo.gl/maps/LIkKi , if demand warranted.

    Now that we've had a subway station in Porter Square for 30 years, why don't we have more housing near it?

    It's really close to Alewife

    It's really close to Alewife but they don't seem to mention that. Also, it's quite close to two CHA housing developments but they don't seem to say that either.

    It is VERY far from berryline which they put on their map.

    If you need froyo

    it's much closer to Orange Leaf and iYO Cafe on Elm Street in Davis Square. And to JP Licks, for that matter.

    The neighborhood map strangely excludes not just Somerville, but also the whole part of Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge beyond Pemberton Farms. No love for Verna's Donuts? Greek Corner? Joe Sent Me?

    (The location is also a short walk to one movie theatre, and a plausible longer walk to two others. Surely that would appeal to some people, but it's not mentioned at all.)

    The Wyeth

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for taking notice of our project. I am one of the developers of the The Wyeth. While utilities are not included, we will achieved the highest standard for sustainability with the Wyeth (LEED Platinum). As a result your utility bills will likely be 50% lower than an standard home. BUT we have made sure to include a lot for our residence. Private gym, on-site tenant services manager, a big lawn area with grill stations, courtesy bikes (purchased from our friends at Bicycle Exchange in Porter) for guests or renters without bikes, free electric car charging stations, a courtesy conference room (if you happen to freelance), parking is included and we have tons of visitor spaces. We are also really proud of our partnerships with local companies like Boston Organics, Cambridge Critter and Dog Sitter, etc. We're local guys and this is privately owned, we're going to take very good care of our residents, that's what they pay for. Our renters will pay a higher rent then some other buildings, but i assure you they will be getting a lot for it, and they'll be happy living there.

    Check out our website and come by for a tour.

    We have a leasing team, but I am happy to meet you personally if you would like.

    Take care.

    Eric Svenson

    And there ends the conjecture!

    Now the rest of our Slumerville aged hipsters can be quiet, because it looks like you get quite a bit for your money (beats the heck out of most crappy triple deckers that smell like patchoolie) - if I didn't own I might consider moving here.

    Ron, please be quiet before someone sues you again.

    Boston area vs Portland area

    Apples and oranges.

    Boston [city] and even more-so Cambridge, is actually far more densely populated and built up vs Portland [city]:

    Boston - 625,000, 48 sq miles land area
    Cambridge - 105,000, 6 sq miles land area
    Portland - 595,000, 138 sq miles land area

    Portland's population density is FAR less than Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, etc.

    Metro Boston is much larger than Metro Portland

    Boston's economy is in better shape than Portlands; Massachusett's economy is in better shape than Oregon.

    Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Brookline, etc. is probably the biggest student ghetto in the U.S. and has a lot of financially well off students, foreign and domestic. It's also one of America's premier yuppie, guppie, and DINK urban centers. Boston is also a premier financial, educational, healthcare, biomedical, pharmaceutical, government [Boston is the state capital and defacto capital of New England [14+ million people] where regional federal offices are located], etc. In other words, there's money to be had in the Boston area and many people make good money.

    This is not a slap at Portland, which I like. I've visited Portland, Seattle and the northwest multiple times and liked it very much. But there are many reasons why housing in the Boston area would be more expensive than Portland, and why our big population density and urbanization make for less elbow room vs Portland, or Seattle for that matter.

    Citywide averages are

    Citywide averages are meaningless.

    What matters is *neighborhood* density, which I'll define as an area within a 15 minute walk of an attraction like a transit station or shopping district.

    Hmmm

    Cambridge is 6 sq miles in land area. It's safe to say with 105,000 people it's very densely populated.

    Unless Portland had some huge parks and empty rural type areas, it has nowhere near the population density of either average Boston neighborhood or the most densely populated neighborhoods. Portland has roughly the same population as the City of Boston but is 90 sq miles larger than the City of Boston.

    I do of course understand what you're getting at and appreciate it, but it's safe bet to say Cambridge is FAR MORE densely populated, either it's mean average or the density of it's most populated neighborhoods, than Portland.

    Check it out for yourself

    Huge parks - well, largest urban forest pretty much anywhere counts, right? Also, a lot of the sprawl is still within city limits - although there is infill there as well.

    Portland has added 1/3 of its population in the last two decades. Mostly from infill in close-in areas (anything lower than the 40s on either side of the river) and from a dense buildout of the Pearl district. Most of that increase went into a relatively small area. Can you imagine what rents would do in Boston if we gained 300,000 people in the next ten years? Or, if you expand out to Somerville and Cambridge, 500,000 more people?

    Once the city and state zone stuff, people build. Which is why rents and even housing has seen increases, but not huge price shocks - yet. They don't allow last minute challenges to as-of-right buildings. This means you check the zoning, buy the property, and get the permits and do it without concern that you will be hammered with ridiculous and frivolous lawsuits as a means of extortion and running for office like the North Cambridge Stagnation Committee likes to do (which is why the properties in that area have not been built out - frivolous lawsuits instead of zoning changes).

    I recently sold the house my parents lived in for 20-25 years. It is close in, in a neighborhood built at the same time and similar density to much of North Cambridge. That house will be expanded to two units in the renovation because this is allowed. They could have torn it down and built up to 4 units, but they are neighborhood folks who express their belief in lower density by pulling together the cash and making me a good offer. Unlike what has happened repeatedly to people trying to build in North Cambridge, nobody threatened to scuttle the sale. Nobody filed lawsuits then refiled them after they were thrown out of court. The neighbors are sending me pictures of the transformation and not scheming to get trinkets or payoffs for the horrible imposition of having to have more neighbors, and more housing units will result.

    High density zoning means people do infill - allowing challenges to building based on predatory behavior means lower density, fewer units, and higher prices.