Two Hot Development Meccas
BOSTON & CHICAGO—For 100 years, neither city could win a World Series. Now Boston can't stop winning, and both cities are booming with development. As for the Cubs, to put it in real estate terms, let's say they continue to kick the can down the road.
By this summer, Boston's 6.3M SF Seaport Square will likely have eight of its 10 east-west parcels under construction. (Good time to buy stock in noise-canceling headphones.) To Boston Global Investors CEO John Hynes, that's the tipping point for this 20-building game changer transforming Boston's historic waterfront. “We're witnessing the emergence of one of the most exciting areas in the city,” he says.
The construction budget is being finalized for the $625M One Seaport Square (832 luxury apartments and 260k SF of retail) being developed by The Berkshire Group, BGI, and WS Development. By June, construction is slated to start on One Seaport, plus a new chapel and a park. Last year, Norwich Partners launched construction on the 136-key Envoy hotel; Skanska and Twining Properties broke ground on a 300-unit apartment building; and Skanska started a 450k SF office for PwC's Boston HQ relo. By year's end, John expects to have half the sites in the 23-acre master plan sold or in construction, which will markedly advance the waterfront as a modern mixed-use district.
It's hard to find an area that has more development activity than Chicago’s West Loop. Luxury Living Chicago Realty's Aaron Galvin (in his team’s version of Ellen's famous Oscar selfie) says jobs (Google, Twitter, Uber) are pushing renters to the area in droves, and developers are responding with projects ranging from low-rises to 400-unit buildings. (Before the last boom, there were only 500 luxury units in the entire neighborhood.) One twist: West Loop residents have pushed to keep buildings low, staying in line with the area's heritage. With smaller projects and cheaper land than prime infill spots, developers have the flexibility to spend more on spiffing up each unit and offer 1:1 parking, Aaron says.
Luxury Living Chicago just kicked off pre-leasing for Michigan Avenue Real Estate Group's Madison Aberdeen Place, above, with 54 condo-quality units ready for occupancy this June. The four-story property should stand out as an alternative to high-rise living, Aaron tells us, with fewer amenities but fancier finishes. Two bedrooms range from $2,500 to $3,300/month and one bedrooms are $2,000 to $2,500/month, he says (parking included with all units). Aaron's also seeing demand for condos and a lack of inventory, but financing hasn't gotten there for most developers to make sense of it. (Like the rest of us, maybe they're waiting for their tax rebate.)