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10-alarm Waltham fire was set, officials say

NBC Boston reports fire officials today labeled a July 23 fire that did an estimated $110 million in damage to a nearly completed apartment complex as arson. The developer is offering a $100,000 reward for information.

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$110M implies that the build cost was ~$400k per apartment, assuming a total loss and allowing for cleanup costs but not including any value of the land. That seems high? What was the average sale price going to be?

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For a wood frame building between 4-6 stories, construction typically costs between $260-$280 per square foot. (This is non-union. If it was union, it would be around $320-$350 per SF.)

So say you have a building with average units sizes around 800 square feet, that unit will cost between $200k-$225.

But of course, buildings aren't just the units. You also have to build the common areas (hallways, stairwells, elevators, lobbies). For a very efficient building, common area is about 15-20% of the total square footage. But if this building had any amenities (gym, lounges), it's probably closer to 25%. So now, you have another 200 sf of building at a cost of $50-60k.

So now you're up to around $300k per unit. And now you have to build the parking. Typically, a garage averages out to about 400 SF per spot (once you account for the spot, drive aisles, ramps etc.). If it's above ground, parking costs a little less (about $150 per SF) so each spot costs around $60,000 to build.

In Boston, you can typically get away with a parking ratio of 0.5-1.0 but out here, you're probably at 1.5-2.0, for a parking cost per unit between $90,000-120,000.

This brings you easily into the $400k per unit range, without factoring any of the land cost, plans, engineering, environmental, etc.

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Not the only property damaged ... Neighboring businesses were burnt out too.

There are also cleanup and disposal costs to factor in.

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Whatever happened with that similar large fire a few months back? Same kind of thing....new construction, apt building, massive fire....

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They installed a chimney for the backup generator exhaust without adequate clearance. They were testing the backup generator when the chimney heated up in a normal fashion, but since the clearance was extremely low, it heated up everything around it to the point of combustion.

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