The Skinny


Owners of more than half the new condos at the Mandarin Oriental.

Though the final sales of the 49 units in the Back Bay project closed in October, the aforementioned buyers were still waiting to move in as of mid-December. Why the delay? Chalk it up to a potent mix of ambitious plans and a level of fussiness that seems like an extreme luxury these days. 

Although residents could have outfitted their units with a base package including Poggenpohl cabinets and Portofino marble, the majority opted to go even higher-end. The building’s general contractor, Suffolk Construction, formed a division to do many of those build-outs, and sold $46 million worth of upgrades to some 43 buyers. While that finish work has been under way, other logistical details have needed ironing out. Last month one buyer hired a construction crane to move artwork in through an upper-floor window. Another is importing wood from a castle in France and repurposing it into flooring.

Even project partner Robin Brown is deciding to wait—at least until his favorite painters find time to do his walls. "This was a three-dimensional chess game; it was crazy," he says. But it’s not as though the players don’t have anywhere else to lay their well-coiffed heads: Brown points out that about half the not-yet-occupants are wintering comfortably in Florida. - Francis Storrs