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West End Rises Again

West End Rises Again
Equity Residential has a big footprint in downtown Boston as owner of the nine-building, 1,464-unit West End Apartments. ER?s Greg White says the REIT is seeking approval from the community and City to build perhaps 500 more apartments for about $200M.
West End Rises Again
We snapped Greg and Mark relaxing in a social room at the 104-unit Vesta building, one of the newer residences built in the complex that has a traditional d cor. Another recently built high-rise, the 170-unit Asteria, has a trendier, modernist look, designed to appeal to more youthful renters. They tell us the rental market in this neighborhood has broad appeal because of its location near the business district in Boston, the hospitals, and state and federal offices. It's also an easy walk over a bridge to the tech enclave in East Cambridge. ER purchased four of the buildings and built five others, with the last going up in ?08.
Greg and Mark Jurgella
Greg and Mark Jurgella showed us one amenity that attracts all types of renters: a panoramic view of the Charles River and Cambridge skyline. Other enticements include a pool, fitness centers, media rooms, a dining room, and parking for 1,210 vehicles. Rents range from about $1,800/month for a studio up to $6,000/month for a three-bedroom penthouse. Vacancy is about 5%. Greg tells us that the property was re-branded as West End Apartments to bring back the identity of the neighborhood, razed during the era of urban renewal. The recently revived neighborhood offers expanded shopping on Cambridge Street and public transit.
Greg Jurgella
Greg showed us the possible site of the new apartments on Lomasney Way designed by Elkus Manfredi. The structured parking would be replaced by an underground garage for 850 vehicles with new residences above. If approved, three years of construction may start in 2012. Despite the difficult permitting process, Greg says ER likes Boston precisely because it has high barriers to entry unlike ?so many other regions.? Those hurdles keep demand strong and rents rising. And he expects the strong demand to continue, but cautions that ?if the economy continues to sputter, new developments will slow down.? Nevertheless, he's seeking new opportunities in the city and inner suburbs.