This is Allston?
Allston/Brighton is transforming from an industrial-dominated area right before our eyes, thanks to game-changing projects like the 20 affordable condos under construction at the $200M New Charlesview Residences. So we took a look around.
For the first time in 100 years, loads of new housing is rising known for industrial, automotive, and freight rail users, says BRA senior project manager Gerald Autler. (Man and rail haven't coexisted this well since the Boxcar Children.) A vibrant new neighborhood filled with residential, retail, and academia is emerging, he says. The 340-unit New Charlesview—mixed-income, mixed-use—is helping build that community, says James Madden (above), project manager for developer The Community Builders.
Some of its 240 rentals are occupied by people who lived at the old Charlesview—federally subsidized housing—just down the street, in a corner of what’s now Harvard’s campus, says Charlesview Inc exec director Jo-Ann Barbour (above). The housing, pedestrian retail, and open space at New Charlesview also meets Boston’s crying need for workforce housing. The 20 condos—from $190k for a 1,000 SF, two-bedroom to $282k for a 1,500 SF, three-bedroom—are among few new mid-market options. (They'll deliver by year's end.)
The $160M, 325-unit Residential and Retail Commons at Barry's Corner that Samuels, Weiner Ventures, and equity partner American Realty Advisers are building is another major catalyst, Gerald tells us. Once completed by late 2015 (45k SF of retail and parking for 220 cars) it'll create a critical mass of people and retail, he says. (You'll know where to find people during holiday shopping season.)
All around Barry’s Corner, Harvard has big, long-delayed plans for a new Allston campus; the latest iteration was approved by the BRA last year. On the Western Avenue parcel, some site prep is underway (above) for a school of science and engineering, Gerald says. (Everyone's been saying lately how Harvard needs more engineers.) Construction may start next year, he tells us. Overall, Boston's given Harvard the green light for 1.4M SF of new construction and 500k SF of renovations.
On North Harvard Street, the university will revamp a sports facility into a new mixed-use building. Across the street, where the old Charlesview (above) stood for 40 years, Harvard expects to build a $120M, 300k SF academic and administrative development with ground-floor retail and perhaps cultural venues, Gerald says. This development makes the 80 market-rate condos planned for the New Charlesview—its final phase—more valuable, he adds.
And values are already rising beyond expectations of Mt. Vernon chairman Bruce Percelay, who’s building Eco, the last of three new buildings totaling 290 rental units. They were all completely pre-leased upon completion, says the firm's director of property management Sarah Merrigan, above. (These folks want in before the paint's dry.) Together with five renovated buildings (with 185 apartments), they comprise the Allston Green District that Mt. Vernon developed. But the three new buildings are all on the market.
Bruce wasn’t planning to sell but was approached by too many investors to turn away—180 requests for confidentiality agreements, 50 tours, and has 15 strong offers, he says. (The mark of a good salesmen: lots of paperwork and fancy footwork.) Bidders include institutional investors, major fund managers, and international investors. The three new buildings developed for $85M could fetch $150M, building broker Boston Realty Advisers says. Allston is one of the Boston neighborhoods that have opportunities for new development, but the Allston Green District’s reception was unexpected, even by its mastermind. Bruce says it'll pick a buyer in four weeks.