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NY Streets on the Fast Track

Normandy Real Estate Partners and Gerding Edlen's topping off party for Troy Boston (just don't accept any wooden horses at the front door)—their 378-unit multifamily building in the South End—highlights the 1,500 housing units under construction in a neighborhood that was half deserted not long ago. Now, $600M in mixed-use projects are underway. 

Normandy partner Justin Krebs (above right with principal Mark Roopenian) says the steel was erected at warp speed—less than three months. In August, the developers' marketers will start pre-leasing from a converted food truck. They expect the $185M two-building complex to be ready for occupancy this fall at rents averaging $4.50/SF. Troy Boston took vision to pull off. In '06, Justin purchased the 1.3-acre site for Normandy when the neighborhood, the New York Streets District, was a dark backwater of the trendy South End. Justin credits Randi Lathrop, then with the BRA and now running RG Lathrop Consulting, for spearheading the rezoning that raised height limits from 70 feet to 150 feet to attract development. 

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Gerding Edlen prez Kelly Saito (far right, second from the end) and CEO Mark Edlen (far right) say the Oregon-based company's principles of youth, sustainability and walkability guided Troy Boston's development. They're standing with beam designers from Youth Design, a South End non-profit that links youngsters with design community mentors, and will commission local artists to create pieces for the complex. Neighbors at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter did some catering for Tuesday's party. The developers aim for LEED Gold: among many sustainable features, they'll produce on site 100% of the water and 50% of the heat residents use.   

Among Troy Boston's investors is National Real Estate Advisors, an outgrowth of the IBEW's National Electrical Benefit Fund, which has financed other Boston projects including 33 Arch St. The IBEW Local 103's business manager Mark Monahan says that the nearly 600 unions jobs generated by the project are “much needed” after the recession. The topping-off party featuring Redbone's barbecue was held to honor the men and women building Troy Boston.

Around the corner on a 6.2-acre site, National Development broke ground last week on Sepia at Inkblock South End: 83 condos that are 60% pre-sold: $500k for a studio to more than $2M for a penthouse. The prices are somewhat higher than expected when the project was planned, managing partner Ted Tye says. The $200M Inkblock South End, located where the Boston Herald once operated, also has three buildings under construction with 315 rental apartments and 80k SF of ground-floor retail. That includes a 50k SF Whole Foods grocer, a sorely needed neighborhood amenity. Two more buildings are planned.

Across the street, Burlington-based Nordblom Co, is getting ready to start work at its $200M mixed-use project (345 Harrison Ave) with 602 apartments and 34k SF of ground-floor retail. In '06, the family-owned company purchased the neighboring 250k SF former Teradyne HQ at 1000 Washington St. Back then, the New York Streets neighborhood had little to offer except one thing: a great location in walking distance to the Back Bay, the Theater District, downtown and the South End's culinary and cultural delights several blocks west.

In '08, when most developers held tight, The Hamilton Co started construction on a 40-unit apartment building at 601 Albany St. It was completed in '09 and 100% leased by mid-2010. Hamilton, the region's largest private apartment owner and manager with 5,500 units, never worried about filling up the building given its location between Tufts Medical School and the Boston Medical Center.  

Once industrial buildings like the plant for Quinzani's Bakery at 380 Harrison Ave dominated this part of the South End. Now, the smell of bread in the oven still wafts over the neighborhood. But with the changes all around, and developers seeking South End opportunities, it seems like only a matter of time until the poppy seeds are replaced by apartment dwellers with pets.

  
  
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