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January 4, 2011 

Just added to our Boston Multifamily Summit: Cambridge Savings Bank SVP Michael Lindgren. Join us at the Hyatt Regency Boston. Next Tuesday, Jan. 11. Sign up today—price increases tomorrow!


Construction may start this year on 21 multifamily rental projects for a total of 1,855 units, according to Boston Redevelopment Authority director John F. Palmieri.

John F. Palmieri.

We snapped the leader of the powerful agency that decides what gets built and where in his City Hall office (great water views, BTW). He's signing off on BRA decisions with the smile every developer hopes to see. Boston CRE vacancy rates are high, absorption low, and the pros are still identifying rental rates. But he says the city economy is “fairly healthy” and the population growing with a strong contingent of young professionals and families. Since developers “want to be a little ahead of demand,” John says development activity could ramp up soon.

John, Kenya Thompson, director of community planning Randi Lathrop and senior architect David Carlson

John peers over a model of the city with landscape architect Kenya Thompson, director of community planning Randi Lathrop, and senior architect David Carlson. John says his staff, bankers, and developers have ID’d a pent-up demand for multifamily rental housing citywide. Not only is the 700,000 person workforce growing, the contingent of 102,000 grad students is expanding and 92% of them rent apartments. Meanwhile, many who would have bought housing are renting because they fear falling values or can’t meet stricter credit requirements. That’s why, of the 1,855 apartments that may break ground this year, 830 were initially planned as condos. If many of these apartments are built. it will be great progress: From early ’09 through Q3 ’10, construction started on only 561 new units.

Gerald Autler, Carolyn Bennett, and Mike Glavin

Gerald Autler, Carolyn Bennett, and Mike Glavin work on institutional development like the master plan recently approved for Wentworth Institute. John says the solid educational and healthcare sector has helped the city weather the recent downturn. As for new CRE projects, the BRA has pinpointed 3M SF that can be built around the Greenway, “an enormous magnet.” At the 600-acre Innovation District—the Seaport, Fort Point, and the Marine Industrial Park—John says developers like Joe Fallon and John Hynes (who control many acres near downtown) may be the first “to jump in,” probably with some mixed-use projects. Meanwhile, with great demand for retail, restarting the long-stalled One Franklin in Downtown Crossing is a top priority for John and of course, Mayor Menino.


Boston’s Moving Up

AFIRE chief Jim Fetgatter

As foreign investors zero in on opportunities for this year, they’re more interested in US CRE that markets elsewhere, and Boston has moved up to third from fourth but is still far behind NYC and DC, according to the annual Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate member survey. AFIRE chief Jim Fetgatter (above), says 72% of AFIRE members, who hold a total of $627B in CRE ($265B of that in the US), plan to invest more capital here this year than last, according to the survey conducted by The James A. Graaskamp Center for Real Estate. The US ranked four times as high as second-ranked UK as an investment target (if we can get Prince William to have his wedding at Fenway, it'd really sock it it to the Brits), and 60% of respondents said the US has the best potential for capital appreciation (54% more than China). Multifamily remains the primary target, followed by hotel and retail.

46 Years and Counting
Josephine DeFlavis here with Bob DeMarco and his sons who are Campanelli partners: Jeff DeMarco, Dan DeMarco and Rob DeMarco

Over the holidays, the Campanelli Cos honored the firm’s longest-serving employee, executive assistant Josephine DeFlavis, here with Bob DeMarco and his sons who are Campanelli partners: Jeff DeMarco, Dan DeMarco, and Rob DeMarco. Josephine started in June ‘64 as assistant to the controller, mainly doing bookkeeping. Over time, she began to handle employee benefits and transactions with three charitable foundations. What keeps her going? Josephine says details fascinate her and (here’s a universal truth) she really likes the Campanelli people.


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