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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 initiallyplanned 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.