Markets & Economy

Boston building boom lifts housing

The trend is fueling experimentation like zero-net-energy apartments and more
  • 83 major projects worth about $7 billion are going up in 19 of the city’s 25 neighborhoods.

A massive building boom in Boston is underway.

“There’s 14 million square feet of construction underway right now,” said Brian P. Golden, director of Boston Redevelopment Authority. “It’s a remarkable transformation in just a couple of years.”

Boston is undergoing one of the biggest development booms in decades, with a new generation of luxury residential towers being built in Greater Boston. It’s a multi-billion dollar transformation that stretches from the heart of downtown outward toward the suburbs.

Shiny glass and steel high-rise and mid-rise residential towers are sprouting up across Boston’s once-neglected neighborhoods as Beantown becomes a more international city, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The flurry of new construction includes 83 major projects — worth about $7 billion — going up in 19 of the city’s 25 neighborhoods, according to The Boston Globe.

Simultaneously, new home building permits are also growing rapidly. Since 2011, the number of new home building permits has grown steadily, moving upward from 6,139 permits in 2011 to 15,036 in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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In the first five months of 2016, developers had issued nearly 4,000 new home building permits.

Anywhere you look, you can see the transformation unfolding.

Boston condo boom

At Downtown Crossing, the Millennium Tower, a 60-story condominium building, will open this summer; its 442 luxury condos are already 95 percent sold, according to developer Millennium Partners. Prices range from $1.1 million for a one-bedroom condo to penthouses starting at $7 million — and they top out at $37.5 million for a 13,000-square-foot penthouse.

Further south, in Boston’s historic and emerging Seaport district, One Seaport Square, a massive three-acre development with plans for 832 apartments, is under construction and slated to open in 2017. Over in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, a 61-story condo-hotel — One Dalton — will be the tallest residential skyscraper in Boston.

The building buzz is luring some big-name corporations to relocate to the Boston area.

GE: Boston, here we come

In January, General Electric decide to leave its longtime home in Connecticut and chose Boston’s fast-growing waterfront district for its new headquarter. GE is the biggest company ever to relocate to the city, and it is expected to be a boost to the local economy, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which oversees all construction projects in the city.

The move, which is expected to begin this summer, will relocate 800 people to Boston.

For Red Sox fans, Pierce Boston, a 30-story luxury condo and apartment tower near Fenway Park, will open in the summer of 2018, featuring 109 condominiums and 240 rental apartments.

On the South End, Troy Boston, which opened in 2015, has a strong millennial vibe. A one-bedroom apartment rents for more than $3,000 a month.

In Boston’s historical Bulfinch Triangle neighborhood, One Canal, a new 12-story luxury rental tower, caters to millennials and baby boomers, with a rooftop social deck, fitness center and yoga studio.

Boston’s housing boom is spilling into other corners of the city, including South Boston, the South End Fenway and Mission Hill.

Zero-net-living Mission Hill flats

Leland DiMeco

Leland DiMeco

Further west, in the Mission Hill neighborhood, developer Leland DiMeco, co-owner and principal broker at Boston Green Realty, LLC, is planning an environmentally friendly LEED-certified, mixed-use development.

DiMeco and his wife, Suzanne, are the developers of Mission Hill Flats, a mixed-use building with 30 apartments and four commercial units that, when completed, will surpass any LEED/Energy Star green standards.

Mission Hill Flats

Mission Hill Flats

“We want Mission Hill Flats to be the greenest building in Boston and help pave the way for more of their kind,” said DiMeco, whose company is a certified EcoBroker and property management firm that specializes in deep energy retrofits.

“This is going to be a fun, technology-based building offering residents a system that will learn and adapt to their habits. The system will learn when you leave, when you’re coming, how to turn the heat on, how to turn the cooling on. It will be a pace to talk about and have your friends come over to visit.”

With a combination of rooftop solar panels, advanced water heaters, smart thermostats, dual-pane windows, LED lighting, electric vehicle (EV) plugins, a “smart car” for tenants, high performance eco-friendly construction materials and other high-efficiency features, Mission Hill Flats is designed with a singular goal: to generate as much energy as they use.

It’s a concept known as zero net energy, or ZNE.

The DiMecos are teaming up with the local Roxbury Knights of Columbus and donating space in the building for the charity group. The five-story apartment building will be a passive house certified project, a rigorous energy efficiency standard aimed at reducing a buildings carbon footprint.

Zero net energy buildings are gaining popularity in Massachusetts, according to Green Building News. A survey by the Net Zero Energy Coalition — a group representing some 180 builders, product manufacturers and other industries — found that California far outstripped all other states, with Massachusetts and Connecticut coming in at second and third, respectively.

The Mission Hills neighborhood is a walkable community near the Longwood Medical Center as well as many colleges and universities, including Northwestern University.

South Boston — Southie chic

While downtown and the Back Bay may have all the new trophy towers, the epicenter of city’s development boom is South Boston, experts claim.

South Boston — or Southie, as it’s known locally — was once a largely gritty Irish, Catholic and working-class neighborhood of narrow streets and small houses jammed together on a peninsula jutting into Boston Harbor and splendidly isolated from downtown by the Fort Point Channel.

South Boston is the old stomping grounds of Southie legendary gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious godfather of the Irish Mob who murdered, conned and terrorized his way through Boston’s underworld in the 1970s and 1980s, until he was sentenced to life in prison in 2013.

Read the full article in the August 2016 Housing News Report.

Octavio Nuiry is the managing editor at Attom Data Solutions.

Email Octavio Nuiry.