Multi-milion dollar sale recorded at W Boston Residences
Apr 2011 07

A penthouse condominium in the W Boston Residences sold yesterday, the 35th in the 123-unit mixed-use building.

The penthouse sold for $3.7 million. It has ~3,082 square feet of space, three bedrooms, three and ½-half baths and came with one parking space included in the price.

Warren Residential Group (us) represented the buyer on the sale.

It is the third penthouse sale in the building and, because of our skill at negotiating, the lowest-priced per square foot. The other two penthouses include PH4, which sold for $3,537,000, ~2,631 square feet at $1,344 per square foot, and PH3, which sold for $3.2 million, ~2,574 square feet at $1,243 per square foot.

The internal sales team at the W Boston Residences has now sold 28% of the units in the building but many remain of all sizes in all prices. A ~427 square foot, 19th-floor studio, for example, is listed for $445,000. An 18th floor two bedroom, with ~1,286 square feet of space is listed for $1,265,000.

Please contact me for more details on recent sales in the building and to discuss buying strategies.

Condo association fights and arguments cause trouble
Feb 2011 23

If you want to own a home in downtown Boston, just about 90% of you are going to end up living in a condominium. The lucky/fortunate few will be able to buy a single-family home, but the vast majority of you (us) are going to end up owning a floor in a five-story walk-up with neighbors in very close proximity to us, a part of what’s known as the “condo association”.

A few weeks back, the Boston Globe ran a series of articles on what it’s like to live in a condo association. Basically, hell on earth, was their point of view. There was the story of the condo owner in a building on Beacon Hill who basically hated her neighbors who hated her back.

But, for most of us, living with others in a condo building is simply a part of life. Infrequently do we get involved in the personal lives of our neighbors – we may never even see them in the hallways for months at a time. (Yes, it’s true.)

The Boston.com real estate blog had a clever little entry about the different types of condo associations you might encounter. I think the author, Sam Schneiderman, hit it right on the head, in his Challenging condo associations entry.

He organizes the typical condo associations under five headings. Which one’s yours?

1.) Financially-mismanaged condo assoc.
2.) Physically-mismanaged condo assoc.
3.) Invisible condo assoc.
4.) The broke condo assoc.
5.) The well-managed condo assoc.

I’ve never been a part of any of those, truth-be-told. Maybe well-managed, but that’s only because it was still under the control of the builder, and he took care of everything.

Each of the other four comes with its own set of problems. If I had to rank, the “financially- and broke-association” is worst: the type of association where there’s never enough money to pay for desperately-needed repairs. Try coming up with $30,000 as a special assessment from owners when you need a new roof. Better would be to have monthly condo fees sufficient to build a capital reserve. And, these days, not only is it wise because you’ll have money on hand, it’s practically a necessity if you ever expect to get a potential buyer approved for a home loan.

If your association has low owner-occupancy, then you may have already encountered the “physically-mismanaged” association. If a lot of owners are renting out their units, and they live elsewhere, they probably don’t know or care about leaks or broken doors – they just want their rent checks. Only a disaster or major crime will get a rise out of them.

A commenter adds one more: There’s also the mentally mismanaged condo association, with at least one member who is both highly vocal and bats**t insane. Apparently this is required by city ordinance in Cambridge, where every association has one.

Boston condo sales volume down in January, avg. prices down
Feb 2011 22

The Warren Group is out with condo and single-family home sales data for January 2011.

Condominium sales in Massachusetts posted a significant decrease in January, dropping almost 18.5 percent to 808 from 991 in January 2010. January marks the seventh consecutive month that condo sales decreased in Massachusetts.

The median condo price in January also declined 4.6 percent to $233,750 from $245,000 in January 2010.

Boston Proper condo sales dropped 4.76% from January 2010.

The median condo price dropped, according to the Warren Group, by 19.23%, from $572,000 to $462,000.

The drop is confusing to me because of the size. Obviously, something else is going on here.

Let me take a closer look and get back to you. My guess is that we had a bunch of high-end condo sales closings (The Clarendon and/or The Bryant) that is skewing the numbers.

Hayward Place project gets new life in Downtown Crossing
Feb 2011 03

Hayward Place is back!

Hayward Place is a parcel of land located near the theater district, in the Downtown Crossing neighborhood. It’s directly in front of the Paramount theater and in the shadow of the Ritz Carlton Towers.

It’s been a decade since the city first decided that a new building should go up on that spot.

The Boston Globe’s Steve Bailey wrote about it, back in May 2007.

In 2001, Menino moved to sell the city-owned land on Washington Street across from the Ritz Towers, to get it back on the tax rolls and see something built there. Two years later, in a city desperate for new housing, the Boston Redevelopment Authority rejected seven developers ready to build housing in favor of Millennium, which proposed to build offices in the middle of a glut of office space. When Millennium came in with a low bid, it was allowed to match the highest bidder.

Now, six years later, not much has changed. Hayward Place remains a parking lot. A city school that was to be built with the money from the sale has not been built. The big difference: The millions in parking lot money now goes to Millennium.

According to Mr Bailey, the developer has been able to hold onto the land for years without paying any money even though it’s collection millions of dollars in revenue.

But, who cares about all of that. Finally, something will (by which I mean, might) be built.

From the Boston Redevelopment Authority website:

Millennium Partners-Boston announced today that it had filed a “Notice of Project Change” for its Hayward Place project with the BRA. Today’s announcement is an important milestone that will lead to a spring construction start of a new residential building in Downtown Crossing. The Hayward Place Project is being revised as a 15 story, 265 residential building with rental and for sale units, and 12,000 square feet of retail space. This project will enhance the Downtown Crossing Neighborhood by bringing new residents and street activity.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino welcomed today’s filing, “This project represents a dramatic $200 million in private investment that will be a tremendous boost for Downtown Crossing and the Theatre District. Millennium Partners was there for Boston with its Ritz-Carlton Towers and as a leader in the City’s first Business Improvement District; and is with us again today helping by bring nearly 300 jobs, $2 million in annual tax revenue and 24-hour vitality to our city.”

Hayward Place will contain 397,000 square feet in 15 stories, and house approximately 265 units – both apartments and condominiums. (And, hopefully, retail on the first floor.)

While you might think that this location is prime real estate for a high-rise, you’d think wrong. For reasons unknown*, the building will only rise 15 stories.

*Well, at least one person has suggested that the new building will be so short because Millennium doesn’t want anyone’s views affected who live at the Ritz.

Below are four images. These are from earlier designs so the final product will vary, perhaps widely.

W Boston Residences wins reprieve from bankruptcy court
Jan 2011 31

A US Bankruptcy Court judge has just ruled in favor of the W Boston Hotel and Residences, and stopped Prudential Insurance Company’s attempt to take-over control of the project.

The ruling by the judge values the condo and hotel at sufficient collateral for Prudential’s $192 million loan. As such, the project will now have the time to prepare and implement its restructuring plan.

SW Boston Hotel Venture, the developer, expects to present its restructuring plan by the end of March and to emerge from bankruptcy court by the end of June.

As of now, approximately 34, 42% of the 123, condos have sold, with an estimated value of $25 million. Another 13 units are under agreement.

The Boston Globe reports that the developer has paid off part of its obligation to Boston and now owes $6 million of its $10 million loan.

UPDATE: The W Hotel has issued a press release: Court Ruling Clears Way for Continued Ownership of W Hotel and Sale of The Luxury Condominiums (warning, .doc)

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