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How Cambridge Became One Of Boston's Hottest Submarkets

Cambridge is about as hot as a market gets and Twining Properties’ Alex Twining hopes to soon get the green light from the city to build his third multifamily project there. Alex, who will be a speaker at our Future of Cambridge event July 26, snagged an enviable site for his latest development: Mass Ave and Main Street at the entry to Central Square. 


At about $500/SF, Cambridge multifamily is expensive to build, the affordable housing requirements are onerous and construction follows a lengthy approval process. But it’s worth it.

Top rent for a two-bedroom in one of his earlier Watermark Kendall projects in Kendall Square is up to $5k/month. New buildings fill up quickly and stay full. But finding a multifamily site is tricky. Few developable spots remain and competing with office and lab developers who can pay two to three times more for land is a bear, Alex says. But he hopes to start 18 to 24 months of construction on his 270-unit Central Square building just outside Kendall Square by mid-2017.


Like most new luxury buildings, apartments are smaller than they once might have been but the list of amenities is much more extensive. There are a host of places to socialize: the fitness center, private club, inviting lobby, restaurants and outdoor roof terraces with a pool, kitchen, grill and lounge.

Of course, every unit has an interesting layout, open kitchens and often, a great view. For many of Alex’s Cambridge tenants, his buildings are walking distance from their jobs in the biotech, high-tech and higher education fields. 


For generations, Kendall and Central squares were dominated by small scale industrial, MIT and a little low rent housing. The area sorely lacked retail, but that sector is growing dramatically along with the new residences, labs and offices, Alex says.

Among the city’s challenges is expanding the capacity of the Red Line, the region’s most popular rapid transit service. That would further lift real estate markets west to Alewife, and south through Boston and down to Quincy. Another issue is providing more housing that serves households with a broad range of incomes. Given the expense to develop, most new housing is luxury. 

Hear more from Alex and the rest of our expert panelists at Bisnow's Future of Cambridge event, Tuesday July 26, 7:30am, Boston Marriott Cambridge. Sign up here.