Hey, there! Log in / Register

Nothing Nouvelle in Natick: Globe doubles-down on puffery

Three years after the Globe first brought us the story of "the suburban pioneers snatching up units" at the, um, Natick Mall, we get the latest update. Despite listing and auctioning off units for as little as a third of their original prices, the developer still can't find buyers for almost 30% of the units in this white elephant of a project.

Somehow, the Globe finds in all this a Schweitzerian tale of triumph in the face of adversity:

It opened amid the worst recession in generations, with some critics scoffing at the idea of a Boston-style condo tower in the heart of the Route 9 shopping district. But after some tough early struggles and a big markdown in prices — penthouses were originally on the market for well over $1 million — the Nouvelle at last count had sold 152, or roughly 70 percent, of its 215 units.

I can almost hear the corks popping at General Growth's headquarters.

The rest of the piece is yet-another-account of the "restless suburbanites who have found a sense of city at the Nouvelle." It's not just the shopping and the food; the "Nouvelle complex provides its share of urban stimulation — and a newfound sense of community." It's like an urban theme-park! Or, as one irony-deficient resident memorably put it, "It’s almost like walking into Disneyland." Tough to believe, really, that they still can't find takers.

Neighborhoods: 

Ad:
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

Each unit now comes with a huge plot in the year-round heated community gardens?

up
Voting closed 0

I loved this quote in the 2007 story from prospective buyer Donna Niles, who thought living on top of a mall would be more like San Francisco as opposed to the Back Bay, which was "too collegiate" for her:

"I am sick of Faneuil Hall and the bars there. I am buying Manolo Blahniks," she said, referring to a brand of shoes that costs hundreds of dollars. "I don't like beer being tossed on them. That's not my idea of fun anymore. And that's the part of Boston that's missing. It's nice for the college students and the twentysomethings. But for the thirtysomethings and fortysomethings it starts to get, like, where do you go? You want to hang out with a different caliber of people."

So Nouvelle is perfect for the suburbanites who've never explored the city beyond Faneuil Hall, Copley and Newbury Street. People who've lived here 30 years but couldn't walk to Fenway from the commuter rail at Back Bay without asking directions. They don't want to deal with traffic and couldn't imagine taking the subway or walking further than from the parking lot to Neimans or Nordstrums, where they overspend on shoes and handbags to prove what "caliber of people" they belong with.

I'll try not to spill beer on my Aldens the next time I'm at Drink or Beehive with my low caliber friends though, thanks.

up
Voting closed 0

What kind of sense of community happens when the early $1M owner find themselves without an upscale mall (?!?!) but instead with a bunch of unwashed $200K neighbors?

Hey, that's a share of urban for you.

Just wait for the Section 8 units.

Hey, that empty Nordstrom-sized space alone could be a new 10-unit public housing project for recovering meth addicts.

up
Voting closed 0

Plenty of demand for subsidized housing, treatment beds and recovery services in the suburbs.

up
Voting closed 0

Plenty of demand for subsidized housing, treatment beds and recovery services in the suburbs.

up
Voting closed 0

As a realtor I can tell you that most 200K buyers do wash. Snob.

up
Voting closed 0

Just so I can use the "hidden door" that lets you get into the mall whenever you want - even at 3 a.m. when all the stores are closed!

up
Voting closed 0

Mall? Do you mean the improvised skate park of some of the other residents?

up
Voting closed 0

You're just jealous of the exercise opportunities - just think of it as an indoor track for your 3am jogs.

I wonder if they might have more success marketing this as a stranded cruise-ship, beached in Natick. It's got all the usual features. An entirely self-contained ersatz environment; a range of corporate eateries; shopping; potted plants; even a roof deck next to a skylight.

There's a real opportunity here. Rebrand the whole development as, say, The SS Natick. Take the unsold units, and offer them as weekly rentals, complete with all-you-can-eat at Cheesecake Factory and PF Chang's. Book some terrible lounge singers for the vacant, after-hours lobby. And then pitch them to suburban couples, desperate to escape the kids for a week, even if they end up in Natick. Tagline: "You don't have to go far to escape reality!

up
Voting closed 0

...why people don't want to live in a mall. ;-)

Maybe there's something I'm missing, like some latest trend. I'm sure there was some marketing study done showing the demand for such units, but I don't see it.

up
Voting closed 0

From the original Globe story:

"Developments mingling retail with residential have been embraced in the South..."

And everywhere outside of Boston/Cambridge/Brookline is basically the South now. Just look at the recent popularity of CountryFest and douchey Republican senators.

up
Voting closed 3

.

up
Voting closed 0

Have you been to the "Mall" around the holidays?

up
Voting closed 0

All of a month ago, the Boston Business Journal reported that the original owners are majorly pissed about the decline in values and want some money back on their original purchase prices. Relations between "The Originals" and General Growth are so bad the company banned the residents from the auction for the vacant units, for fear they would disrupt the event.

up
Voting closed 0

back then to cover that totally unforeseeable decline in value!
Seriously, why should they be compensated or protected for having bought high-end real estate at the height of a historically large bubble? They were wealthy enough to buy it, right?

up
Voting closed 0

They bought it at a mutually agreed price, that's the deal, like any other deal. If it had doubled in price, would they be willing to hand over some of the appreciation? I think not.

Sheesh, suck it up, folks.

up
Voting closed 0

What's really interesting is why it is important for Uhub posters not to miss any opportunity to deride suburbanites... whether they live in Natick, Newton or Needham... etc. This type of posting and the comments which follow is a Uhub staple.
It must be some type of urban bonding in which everyone reassures one another (for a reason I don't quite get) that we're not like those other people and we're glad of that.
And as a corollary to that thought.. why are the posters so interested in a life style they so little regard.
BTW,I'm not saying that these Nouvelle dwellers aren't unfairly depicted.

up
Voting closed 0

Look around. It's not just suburbanites: We deride everyone!

up
Voting closed 0

UniversalSNUB?

up
Voting closed 0

up
Voting closed 0

UHubbers don't miss any opportunity to dump on we suburb types, especially swrrly. I've never lived anywhere near a city and constantly defend myself from the constant barrage. ;-)

However, this project has always rubbed me the wrong way, not because it's in the burbs, but because I just don't see the attraction of living in a mall. But hey, to each his own.

up
Voting closed 0

One example is seen from some folks on the Emily Looney thread - the ones who insist up and down that Dorchester is crime-plagued and too scary to even drive through, despite hearing from people who live there and travel through there.

More can be seen in the various public transit threads. Also, see any thread where there is whining about lack of "right in front of where I want to go" parking in the city for people who don't check on the parking situation in advance.

Then there are those who will pretend that city traffic and road conditions are just like what they find on weekend exurban road jaunts because they ride a bike too! This sounds amusingly like that cranky guy in rural Maine who likes to start flamewars on Massbike about how bike lanes are all evil and have no place in any urban landscape that he never cycles in.

In other words, only when you deserve it

up
Voting closed 0

I was mocking ersatz urbanism, not suburbia. The post wasn't about Natick. It's about a condo tower built in a mall, on the pretense that this constitutes urban living.

I have no quibble with urbanites or suburbanites. And if you want to split the difference, find a nice transit-oriented development near a commuter rail station in one of our lovely suburbs. But the mall? An island of development in a vast sea of parking lots? Really?

up
Voting closed 3

I checked them out when they were on auction last year.

The apartments look nice, but are a tad small. Good quality stuff, but way WAY overpriced, especially when your view is the back of a sears.

Who wants to sit on their balcony and look at loading docks?

up
Voting closed 0

I rent here. I'm not dumb enough to buy at Nouvelle. Nor should you.....

Since the developer went bankrupt, the construction is flimsy at best and dangerous at worst. A hot water tank on the roof burst pouring 115 degree water down the entire North Tower. It demolished 38 units rendering them uninhabitable. If the residents of the penthouses were home they would have been scalded.

The realtors don't show units in that tower - they say it's getting a "face lift". I overhear the realtors telling many outright lies to potential buyers - It's soundproof (not at all), the condo fees aren't expected to go up (yes they are) etc

Also, the on-site building manager acts unusually unprofessional.

I could go on and on.....this place is a joke.

up
Voting closed 0