Graffiti Marks Modern South End

The Modern South End, a 25-unit condo development that opened in 2007 to residents, attempted to push the border of upscale South End living west of the Massachusetts Avenue border that currently separates the South End and Roxbury.  Developers attempted to fuse stylish (Dennis Duffy) design and contemporary living spaces, with quality finishes and amenities like a common roof deck and small parking garage at the 255 Northampton Street address. The outcome of the development’s success is perhaps different for different people, but it recently sold out, and developers are considering phase 2 of the project on the adjacent lot next door to the current site of the Modern.

Modern South End

The Modern gained solid sales velocity starting in September 2007, when 7 units (approximately 30% of the building) that went Under Agreement in the building’s preconstruction phase closed and residents moved in.  Through the winter months and early part of 2008, sales momentum slowed slightly, and the developer of the Modern partnered with Accelerated Marketing Partners, a spinoff of Boston-based The Collaborative Companies, to plan a condo auction to sell off the last 10 units on Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 1PM at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay. The auction, however, was canceled several days before it was scheduled to take place – the developer commented that they received enough inquiries and early bid submittal interest (it was reported that 3 units went Under Agreement during this time), that they pulled plans to hold the actual auction event in an effort to save costs.  Instead, offers were solicited via a sealed bid process on the remaining units up through 7pm on Sunday May 18, 2008, at which time the developer reviewed all offers. Following this effort, the units that still remained for sale were repriced and eventually sold through a standard listing process by the same firm that represented the property before the auction happenings.  Some of the data points specific to the Modern sales effort are noted below.

  • First closing was September 4, 2007
  • Last closing was August 22, 2008
  • Approximate average price per square foot was $466
  • Sales value of $12 million +

At the top end of the price per square foot scale in the development ($670), the Skyhouse (unit 701) that sits atop the entire building boasting 1,341 square feet (the largest single unit) was the first unit to close at the Modern.  This is somewhat typical, that is, the premier unit in a development sells early – we’ve seen the same thing happen at places like Zero Marlborough and the Providence on Newbury to name several Back Bay examples.

Unit 503 was the last unit to close at the Modern on August 22, 2008, with an original list price of $699,000 and a final sales price of $575,000 – 1,330 square feet, equating to $432 per square foot. The largest single price drop (according to the Boston MLS) recorded during the building’s sales cycle was $168,000 for unit 601, a 1,040 square foot unit that was originally priced at $635,000, but sold for $467,000 (this was one of the final units to sell in the building).

Some residents of the Modern have been unhappy with the mix of units that ended up in the hands of renters, with the majority of the complaints surrounding noise from parties. However, the building was never touted as a rental development, and the significant majority of the units are owned by single individuals, rather than a contingent of developers and/or investors. According to the public record, there are only two multiple unit owners in the Modern – one owner has three separate units, while a different owner has two separate units.


An unfortunate site has been the graffiti that has marked the north side of the finished condo development.  Graffiti tags are splattered several feet from the front door entrance to the new condo development, and leave residents and neighbors frustrated, but not deterred from pushing forward with further development in this area west of Massachusetts Avenue.

Developers are in talks, and the banners are visible (see photo), regarding a second phase of the Modern.  The additional cost of adding underground parking to a development is significant, but the second phase of the Modern may be well served by having a full-size parking garage that can accommodate vehicles of all sizes (the small garage and system of car lifts in the current garage have deterred some Buyers from purchasing in the first phase of the Modern simply from a practicality standpoint).  While the existing development partially overlooks a rather busy gas station to the south, the proposed second phase of the development would not be burdened with this, and outdoor space that accompanies many units in the existing building would be more desirable in a new second phase.

In looking at the goals of the developers at the Modern South End, many of them were accomplished, and the overall project has pushed the boundaries of South End condo development west of Massachusetts Avenue, into Roxbury, and sets the tone for more bold and cutting edge design and development to enrich the city.



  1. if you ever run across graffiti on your glass (graffiti “artists” are now using an acid to tag the glass), it can be removed at about 40 to 50% off the cost of replacement. Your windows can also be protected by a clear film that is applied to the outside of the glass. Well worth the investment.