Has Boston Ritz Carlton Lost its Mystique?

When it opened its doors to both residents and guests in 2001, the Ritz Carlton Hotel & Towers Boston Common offered a new level of luxury to Bostonians who sought the comforts of the condo-hotel lifestyle, the aura of the Ritz Carlton name, and some of the most prominent views in the city.  Eight years later, the development remains one of the most popular luxury buildings to call home in downtown Boston, but, have the high-end accommodations lost some of their mystique?

Turnover in the development has slowed over the past several years, while inventory is up, and the number of days it is taking to sell a unit is higher than past years.  There are over 300 luxury condominiums spread across the two Ritz Carlton Towers that sit at the junction of Avery and Washington Streets in Midtown, a stone’s throw from Boston Common.  Since the Ritz’s inception, there have been a large handful of luxury condominium developments to hit downtown Boston, but it was only recently that a large-scale luxury development, 45 Province, came online in the Ritz’s backyard.

“Luxury is not diminished by company.  The entire Boston market has moved toward full service buildings, elevators, concierge, and quality management.  Boston has become a well to do city.  Buyers are looking for and paying for the best of the best of the best,” says William Shirreff, a residential sales agent with Otis & Ahearn, who currently has multiple listings for sale at the Ritz Carlton.

Since 2006, when 56 condos sold in the development (an approximate 18% turnover rate), the number of units that have sold at the Ritz has continued to decrease year on year.  For the first six months of 2009, there has been six (6) sales at the Boston Ritz Carlton condos, significantly behind the pace of 2008 total sales of 36.  Coupled with a high inventory of 35 currently available units in the development, the numbers alone beg the question of whether the Ritz Carlton condos are beginning to lose their momentum as one of the most coveted condo developments in downtown Boston.

“For me it is the location of the Ritz Residences that is the distinguishing difference.  Every full service building has unique characteristic that attracts particular buyers.  I like  the easy access to transportation, e.g. the new ramps to the Expressway at the end of Essex Street,  four “T” transit lines within a block, and short walks to Financial District, Theater District, Charles Street and Copley Square, and the Common and Public Garden at your door,” comments Shirreff.

The median list price for the 35 currently available luxury units is $1,369,000 (while the $1,918,457 average is a much higher number than the median mainly due to the $8.5 million listing price of Manny Ramirez’s penthouse), with an average price per square foot of $980, and average days on market (DOM) of 142.  If compared against 2006 – 2009 sales data (table below), DOM may continue to rise for currently available units given a potentially inflated average price per square foot asking price.

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Regardless of the numbers, the classic Ritz name and brand, along with the amenities and location of the development, will continue to drive interest in units at the Ritz Carlton Boston.

“It is the features associated with a particular unit that attracts buyers more than a particular floor plan.  Light, view and terrace or balcony are features most mentioned by buyers.  The particular units I’ve found that “wow” a buyer are the penthouse in the North Tower, the “E” units on high floors in the South Tower, and the units with terraces available in the Ritz III Residences,” says Shirreff.

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Comments

  1. We’re seeing a huge slowdown in the high rise market here in Vegas. Prices dropped about 50% for most properties and some are being bought, but the demand isn’t like it was just a few years ago.

  2. Graham Gordon says:

    I’m not very familiar with the Boston market but this sounds like a typical cycle that will generally occur with anything that’s ahead of it’s time. Eventually the competition will start to catch up. Remember the Ritz Carlton name is probably still a big factor in its luxury appeal if I’m guessing correctly.

  3. I think you said it right in your latest article about the new Boston condos inventory. With all of the new Boston condo developments going up recently such as 45 Province and W Boston to name a couple, people have more, newer options. Buildings such as the Ritz and Four Seasons Place are seeing higher re-sales that are on the market for a longer period of time partly because of the new inventory.