60-story Back Bay tower gets step closer

The Globe reports on the plans for 60 floors' worth of "ultra high-end condos" on the edge of the Christian Science plaza, which raises the question: What happens when all those foreign investors stop buying up Boston residential units?

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It means

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there's going to be some decidedly middle class people living in some pretty tricked out apartments.

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That's gotta hurt

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I actually think this project could do well - and there is definitely a condo shortage - apparently even in the high end right now (unlike rentals where there is a 10 year supply) - but have to imagine it's going to take a bite out of other pending projects - Filene's if people are willing/able to wait, Simon Tower and others on the docket.

How so?

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If there's money to be made, they'll figure it out. Just because the margins will be thinner, doesn't mean people won't want those profits. If the connected guys don't want to, the city should fine new developers that will.

Great news. We need a lot more units on the market to free up and slow the crazy increases in mid-range and low end housing. We got a problem when in southie rents are going for $3500-4000/mth for a non-renovated 3 bedroom.

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What's the problem?

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If 3 frat boys want to pay $1000-$1500 a month for rent, and they do, that's good for the landlord. Throw in 3 of their girlfriends and it brings the cost down to $500-$750. The downside is there can be up to 6 vehicles per unit.

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Couple problems

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First - any glut in the high end will not likely pass through to the middle market. An $8000 rent might become $7000 and $7000 maybe $6500, but as you move down the price range, you are probably not going to see much compression on say a $3000 rent, so it's probably not going to do much for the not renovated 3 BR crowd in Southie.

Second - and most important - this city has to build to breathe. Unfortunately the budget goes up by about 3-4% a year and most revenues are flat or going up at about half that - which means you have to make up the difference with total property tax increases of 4-5% a year. You get part of that automatically from Prop 2 1/2 annual increases. The other half comes from new construction. If the market is glutted and builders stop building, the city has to start chopping heads. You can do that for a year or two - but if you ever get a slowdown that drags on longer - city hall goes into a spiral due to collective bargaining agreements.

We do one of these boom busts about every 10 years - and the financial crisis was a blessing in disguise because construction froze and we avoided a condo glut (and heads rolled at city hall). Now they've built up that head count again with all this construction of apartments. If it comes to a screeching halt - city hall goes into a spiral and I'm not sure what's left to build that's not already overbuilt.

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Any thoughts on demographic remedies?

The Boomer Pig will eventually get to the other end of the Python.

And there is always the possibility that 20 manic years of non stop boosting will eventually subside into the depression that follows a mania.

Then the place may lose favor for the top 10 percent income tier in need of a place to park its unproductive brats.

It's clear that a lot more effort than I've seen in my life time has been spent on screeching "Yay Boston" at anyone remotely inclined to listen.

The die off is underway. The run of affluent empty nest olds that moved back to the vibrant city will subside and the wealth concentration trend hasn't exactly produced the kind of rolling generational prosperity that will let the next cohort enjoy all the glitz.

Do we hope that affluent foreigners will somehow mistake it for Dubai?

I got to enjoy the wonderful "Fuck Boston" era when you had white flight to the burbs, people bailing for the Sun Belt and so on.

It could easily happen again.

The bet on a mechanistic solution based on something for nothing tax revenue doesn't exactly seem like a risk free or sure fire game plan.

Yes

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Make young kids richer so they can keep the train rolling.

Ooops...

So much easier

... to load them with an unbearable debt load for educational loans to pay for degrees that may never result in finding a well-paying job -- of course, then they will never be able to afford to buy real estate (unless they manage to make it into the top 1 or 2 percent).

I'm getting PTSD from all

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I'm getting PTSD from all these high-end construction projects around the city. Why can't some developer be offered a massive tax break to build a few thousand units of bare-bone units somewhere outside of downtown?

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Being stuck in either of

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Being stuck in either of those spots sounds terribly attractive. If I was 90.

I don't wanna go to a show and have to run to catch the last train on a Tuesday night or face a $40 can fare.

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Chelsea, 4 minutes away?

Certainly not by walking, or by bike, or by the commuter rail. I doubt that the 111 bus can do it either at most times of day.

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111 Schedule

The best scheduled time on the 111 is 6 minutes from the stop on the North Washington Bridge in the North End (last stop in Boston) to the first stop in Chelsea. With the current repainting project, this is even less likely, but still damn good.

yeah

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Its typically (really) 2-4 minutes, no matter what the schedule says.

Sometimes there's two or three at a time.

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Great for jobs, but...

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This will be a great boost for construction jobs but the rents keep going higher and higher in this city. You know how people claim that Boston wants to be like New York. Well, soon enough it will be in cost of living.

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Demand is outpacing supply.

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Demand is outpacing supply. Unless demand drops off or the city continues to BUILD BUILD BUILD nothing will change.

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My favorite quote from the decreasing rents article:

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Allston-Brighton remains the most affordable neighborhood. Average rents in the first quarter were $1,919, up 1.6 percent from a year ago when rents were $1,889.

“Allston-Brighton is very student driven, it’s an older inventory and not typically where many folks start living in an apartment in Boston,” Jodka said.

The student years are not when most folks start living in an apartment in Boston? That sure as hell doesn't jive with what I see around town. In my experience, A-B is where a tremendous number of people start living in an apartment in Boston.

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