GentriWatch: Signs of a Slowdown for Boston’s Luxury Housing?

The city faces a glut of high-end housing, yet many of the new units sprouting up will still cater to Boston's most well-off.

Welcome to GentriWatch, where we look for signs of gentrification happening around the city.


Photo courtesy Ava

Photo courtesy Ava

“THESE ARE GOOD DAYS to be a well-heeled renter in Boston,” reads the first line of the Boston Globe‘s story on the city’s glut of high-end rental units, though it’s doubtful that straits have ever been all that dire for Boston’s well-heeled in the first place.

The Globe reports that it’s merely the laws of supply and demand at work here—in short, Boston has more luxury units than it knows what to do with. Newer buildings in the city’s most heavily gentrified areas like the South End and Fenway are nixing broker fees, while Back Bay brownstones are slashing rents. Concessions are key in courting Boston’s most affluent homebuyers.

Meanwhile, the market for more reasonable accommodations—say, a two-bedroom for $2,500 or less—is tougher than ever. And it’s only getting worse, with rents surging at their fastest pace in three years. Though the Boston market is flooded with luxury units, the story notes that most of the roughly 2,600 new units currently under construction will still charge top-tier rents. Hubris, perhaps?

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Rendering via Boston Redevelopment Authority

Rendering via Boston Redevelopment Authority

THE BOSTON Redevelopment Authority has announced a public meeting later this month for the proposed residential rental building at 425 LaGrange Street in West Roxbury. The site’s proximity to the West Roxbury stop on the commuter rail’s Needham Line presents “the opportunity to create a Transit Oriented Development and more housing diversity to the West Roxbury Neighborhood,” said developer LaGrange AMA Realty Ventures in its BRA application.

“While West Roxbury is known primarily as a neighborhood of single family homes, the Project will provide housing options for singles and new families hoping to enter this limited sub-urban market,” the application reads, “and to do so without the need to own an automobile and for West Roxbury native empty nesters looking to down-size but remain in the neighborhood.”

The project would consist of 48 rental units—six affordable, 42 at market rate—and 81 parking spaces contained in a sub-level garage. It would also require the demolition of the existing commercial building, described in the application as a “long-vacant, blighted structure.”

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EVERY SO OFTEN, you see something pithy and incisive on Medium, making it feel a little less like a cesspool for martyrizing post-resignation rants and desperate attempts to make content marketing tips feel a smidge less soulless with a few well-placed serifs.

Originally published in March but resurgent this week is Max Chanowitz’s “New Bar in [Town],” a Mad Libs-style skewering of formulaic stories covering the hippest new bar in the neighborhood.

The new bar is taking over the space that used to house [charming yet now-defunct local business]. [Said business] was a much-loved fixture in [neighborhood] for decades, providing [charming yet outdated product] to the local community. The owner, [beloved immigrant with heartwarming success story] who inherited the business from his father, shuttered the store last year, explaining that [the charming product was too old-fashioned to sell to mainstream consumers, yet not old-fashioned enough to sell to hipsters] meant that the store could no longer be economically viable.

Sound familiar? You can read the full piece here.

Notice something changing in your neighborhood? Let me know: [email protected], @KyleClauss.