Top 3 Greenest Boston Condo Developments

With the green building movement in full swing it’s no surprise that Boston’s condo developers are starting to roll out some high end energy efficient buildings. While there are many developers and construction firms taking steps to “green” their projects, only a few select buildings have gone all the way to be certified with a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation.  Put simply, to be LEED certified is to develop and operate in the highest environmentally friendly way possible, and in this article, I’ll take a closer look at the Boston condo market and discuss the area’s top 3 greenest Boston condo developments.

Boston’s Top 3 Greenest Condo Developments

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building and rating system was developed by the US Green Building council in 1998 to standardize what constitutes a green building. The system has gone though many iterations and its current form, version 3.0, consists of a point rating system covering all areas of development and operation, including sustainability, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design, and regional priority. The rating system is setup to encourage developers to use and embrace building techniques that will benefit the environment and community as well as enhance the marketability of their projects.

The Macallen Building – Boston’s Greenest

The Macallen Building has a very unique triangular silhouette that is very prominent on the skyline of South Boston. When it was completed in 2007, the building earned LEED Gold certification and was the first residential building in Boston to do so. The building consists of 140 luxury condos with high-end finishes and all the amenities you would expect from a luxury condo building. The development team at Papas Properties went all out using all the latest eco friendly building techniques and sustainable building materials. Much of the building was constructed with recycled and non-toxic materials and all of the fixtures, appliances, and building systems are energy star rated. The most notable and unique eco friendly feature is the Macallen’s green roof system, which consists of grass like sedum that does not store solar energy, and also provides insulation and facilitates rain water collection. This was a very innovative solution and was the first large scale implementation of such a system in the Boston area. The best part about the Macallen is that when you enter the residences you really have no idea that it was designed to be eco friendly. It appears to be just another luxury downtown condo building, but it is so much more. The Macallen set the standard a high-end consumer friendly luxury lifestyle and sustainable living. I can only hope that other developers look at this shining example of how striving to be environmentally friendly can enhance a project’s overall appeal.

Macallen Building

Clarendon Back Bay – Silver LEED Certification

The next, and newest, green condo project in Boston is the Clarendon. Built by Related, a nationwide developer, the Clarendon seamlessly melds top-end luxury city living with a holistic approach to healthy living. The development team encourages making green a way of life and went to great lengths to provide a “healthy” building for not only the environment, but its residents.

The construction of the building used at least 10% recycled content and over 50% of the waste created during the construction was recycled. Over 20% of the materials used in the building were sourced within 500 miles of its Back Bay construction site, thus reducing transportation impacts and supporting the local economy. Included in the choice of construction materials was a myriad of green products and solutions, most notably; low voc paint, energy star appliances, high efficiency HVAC units, and use of a landscaped roof top to minimize heat gain and absorb storm water. Additionally, the Clarendon strives to encourage a healthy lifestyle by adding several features such as exclusive use of green cleaning products in common areas, offering a 24-hour fitness room, open roof top terrace, lots of natural light and easy access to the area’s recreational facilities.

Related is hoping to achieve LEED silver certification on the building and things are shaping up very well in their favor. Related had a third party consultant oversee the construction of the building systems to be sure that it would meet LEED standards and sources report that the Clarendon is right on track to meet the silver standards. I am confident that they will meet their goal.

Clarendon Back Bay

Bostonians Green Their Own Condos

The third, and perhaps most shocking green development, is your condo. There are hundreds of condo associations and complexes all over the city striving to “greenify” their residences and I challenge you to make your complex among the leaders! In a previous article of mine (see Top 3 Condo Energy Upgrades), I outlined a plan that will get you started on becoming a greener condo owner. If you are truly passionate about the environment and being a better neighbor, I challenge you to spearhead a movement in your complex, get some changes made, and let me know about it so we can feature the change in a future article of mine. Remember, it all starts with an energy audit!

These examples of Boston eco friendly developments are just the tip of the iceberg. More and more developers and Bostonians are realizing that to go green does not mean you have to make sacrifices in your quality of life. As more and more people become aware of this, green features will start to have a greater impact on the decision process of home buying. Keep an eye out for future projects and keep in mind, small changes can have huge impacts!

Ultra Luxury Condo Sales Velocity Low

As the nation continues to rebound from recession, it is perhaps no great surprise that Boston’s three latest ultra luxury condo developments, 45 Province, the Clarendon Back Bay, and the Boston W Hotel & Condos, are struggling to drive sales velocity.  No condominium developer has a crystal ball, but those behind 45 Province, the Clarendon Back Bay, and the Boston W Hotel & Condos entered the market during an inopportune time in the natural ebb and flow of real estate cycles.  While overbuilding in Boston proper is not the culprit, vacancy is, with paltry building percentage sold numbers, almost all of which under 10%, facing the three developments that have arguably set a new baseline for luxury living in downtown Boston and have been a positive addition to the neighborhoods they occupy.

Aside from Atlantic Wharf (formerly Russia Wharf), a Boston Properties development that is scheduled to come online sometime in 2011, that carries with it some projected residential component, large-scale condo development in downtown Boston is halted.  The inherent goal of the underlying real estate cycle is to now consume the available inventory in the market, and financiers and developers, of a certain size, will theoretically not re-enter Boston until they see vacancy levels significantly drop.

While 45 Province, the Clarendon Back Bay, and the Boston W Hotel & Condos have all been marketed for more than a year, the Clarendon and W Boston only recently received their certificate of occupancy and opened to residents, and thus, 45 Province has had somewhat of a head start on its rivals, yet, the percentage of units sold in each building (according to LINK, one of two Boston MLS systems) struggles to break 10%.  The current statistics for the three luxury condo developments include:

45 Province
Condos Sold: 15
Average Sales Price: $1,501,817
Median Sales Price: $1,304,000
Average Price per Square Foot: $1,008
Percentage of Building Sold: 15 / 138 = 11%

Clarendon Back Bay
Condos Sold: 9
Average Sales Price: $1,131,333
Median Sales Price: $1,060,000
Average Price per Square Foot: $1,063
Percentage of Building Sold: 9 / 103 = 9%

Boston W Hotel & Condos
Condos Sold: 8
Average Sales Price: $581,250
Median Sales Price: $560,000
Average Price per Square Foot: $807
Percentage of Building Sold: 8 / 123 = 7%

These three titans of luxury living face different challenges than other recently built large-scale Boston condo developments.  Take the Macallen Building, Boston’s first large-scale 140-unit LEED certified (green) condo development, located in South Boston, which had a relatively slow absorption rate given its price point and unique characteristics.  45 Province, the Clarendon Back Bay, and the Boston W Hotel & Condos face a different challenge than educating buyers on the merits of green living and why a South Boston development warrants a relatively high price point, instead, the baseline of luxury living is tangling with the economy and overall consumer confidence, regardless of price point, and regardless of how insulated downtown Boston is to pan-US economic conditions, it will simply take time to make significant strides forward in occupancy or building percentage sold rates.

45 Province Boston Condos

Clarendon Back Bay Condos

W Boston Condos

New Ultra Luxury Baseline

After several years of construction, and a redefining of multiple blocks of downtown Boston, both the Boston W Condos and the Clarendon Back Bay began closing on units located on lower floors of each building earlier this month.  The W and Clarendon join the Mandarin Oriental, 45 Province, and Battery Wharf as the newest flock of ultra-luxury large scale Boston condominium developments that were delivered in late 2008 and 2009.

Sales figures for both the W Boston and Clarendon Back Bay have been kept relatively quiet during pre-construction and finishing, and as time unfolds and the registry of deeds is updated, Bostonians will begin to see what price points are being paid to inhabit Boston’s latest luxury living accommodations.

What can be seen thus far, with approximately 5 units in each development being recorded as sold, is that average price points at a price per square foot level in the W and Clarendon at $820 and $990 respectively are significantly lower than the Mandarin Oriental fetched, and well off the average of units currently advertised in each building of $1,090 and $1,150 respectively.

Comparing early sales with other fully sold out buildings (such as the Mandarin) or other currently available units in the same building, may not be a fair comparison given that the majority of units recorded in each building thus far have been on lower floors of each development.  It has been relatively standard that prices typically rise $15K-$20K per floor as you climb towards the penthouse of a large-scale condo development.

With the sudden boost in market closing activity due to closings at the W Boston and Clarendon Back Bay during December 2009, and further closings expected during January, those watching statistics of the Boston condo market over the next several months should look at the numbers knowing that averages can be significantly and easily impacted by injecting just a few high-end price points into a sample.

The Clarendon Brings Unique Living to Back Bay

If the Boston W Hotel construction site has done anything for the Boston skyline, it has shown Bostonians how quickly a 25+ story tower can be constructed, and the Clarendon Back Bay, a 33-story structure adjacent to the John Hancock Tower has been no exception to a speedy ascent.  Approximately 2 years ago, the Clarendon construction site was simply a large hole in the ground, and to see it today in its almost completed facade is a testament to the innovative construction techniques, including construction both up and down at the same time, used on the job site (see Clarendon Back Bay Plywood Siding).

The building, essentially the first and only large-scale tower condo development in the Back Bay, has come a long way since late 2007 and the early stages of construction (for early construction site photos, see The Clarendon Back Bay Says Me Too!, or look even further back with additional photos, see Clarendon Back Bay Condos Looking Up).

Similar to, but taking a slightly different tact than, the Mandarin Oriental and the Boston W, which both have luxury hotel rooms on their lower floors, the Clarendon Back Bay will have luxury rental apartments (a rental development called One Back Bay) on the first 14 floors of the building.  Accessed via a separate entrance on the Clarendon Street side of the development.  Apartments in the building will boast similar but separate amenities to the for-sale condos above and carry monthly rental prices of $2,695 for a studio to $7,500 for a two-bedroom two-bathroom.

The for-sale luxury condominiums (commonly known as the Clarendon Back Bay) has its separate entrance and lobby on the Stuart Street side of the building, specifically at 400 Stuart Street.  Both Boston MLS systems show units continuing to go under agreement at the luxury condo development, which will be housed on the upper floors of the building – thus, sales at the Clarendon appear strong.  Listings have been consistently advertised at an average of approximately $1,200 per square foot with listing prices ranging from $695,000 to over $4,000,000.

Post 390, the “urban tavern” restaurant which will anchor the corner of the building is currently slated to open in 22 days. The name is a play on the address (390 Stuart Street) and the Back Bay Post Office that once stood on the site. The restaurant, from the owners of Grill 23 & Bar and Harvest, will bring some additional interest and traffic to the building before the building above Post 390 receive occupancy.

Combined with the Back Bay Orange Line transit station (providing T, Commuter Rail, Amtrak, local bus, and regional bus (Mega Bus for instance)) just one block away, the Clarendon Back Bay development brings together a host of living options and amenities in a single package.

One Back Bay Rentals

Clarendon Back Bay

One Back Bay Rental Entrance

Clarendon Back Bay Condo Entrance

Clarendon Back Bay Condo Entrance

Clarendon Back Bay

Post 390 Restaurant Back Bay

Clarendon Back Bay

Clarendon Back Bay Condo Photos

To the surprise of many working in the John Hancock Tower, the Clarendon Back Bay has shot out of the ground to quickly become the building’s tallest adjacent neighbor.  It is estimated that approximately 15 of the 104 condos in the development slated for a late 2009 opening are Under Agreement.  Pricing for studios at the Clarendon Boston begins at $695,000, and goes well past $5 million for the highest floors in the building known as “the tower”.  View a sample of listings (PDF 210 KB) for more further information.

Readers have been requesting updated photos of construction at the Clarendon, and we have these exclusive photos to share with you.

Clarendon Boston

Clarendon Boston

Clarendon Boston

Clarendon Boston

Clarendon Boston

Clarendon Back Bay Construction Site

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKT9MNNLd2c 285 234]

Clarendon Back Bay to Block Pope's View

In March 2008, we ran a story about the Clarendon (see Clarendon Back Bay Condos Looking Up), out of which came a conversation thread about whether the 33 story tower would block views of the Hancock Tower from the adjacent luxury Albert A Pope Building once the new ultra luxury Clarendon was complete.

Pope Building in Foreground

It was somewhat speculation in March what the situation would entail, but it is apparent now that the Clarendon Back Bay will indeed block views of the Hancock Tower from the Pope condo development. Inside sources connected to the Clarendon are stating that the building should top off in approximately 6 weeks time, and the 33 stories will definitely block views of at least the lower portion of the Hancock Tower.

There were two units available for sale at the Pope building earlier this year, both have since closed for $1 million+ each, with price per square foot averaging a little over $600.  Sales at the Clarendon appear to be strong, at a different price point ($1,100+ per square foot) entirely. Regardless of a direct view of the Hancock Tower, the 24-unit boutique Albert A Pope Building that sits above the Mistral restaurant will remain one of the premier condo developments along the Back Bay and South End border.

Clarendon Back Bay

Clarendon Back Bay Plywood Siding

You may have this question as well, as we have fielded multiple questions over the past several weeks as to what exactly the plywood siding on the soon-to-be luxury condo development, the Clarendon Back Bay, is all about.

If you haven’t noticed, things are moving quickly at the Clarendon, with construction crews pouring a floor approximately every four days, along with multiple dump trucks hauling excavated dirt from underneath the development for the parking garage. This speed is due in part to one of PERI Formwork Systems products, that is, the plywood casing around the building. PERI is the biggest provider and manufacturer of formwork and scaffolding systems in the world, and have participated in several projects in Boston, including the Regatta Riverview Residences in Cambridge.

Clarendon Back Bay Plywood Siding

The plywood formwork system that is climbing up the sides of the Clarendon serves multiple purposes. It provides safety for construction workers, while at the same time, increases their productivity (you feel more comfortable working at 20 stories off the ground if there is a plywood room surrounding you and preventing a fall). It also shields the property from the elements during its formative stages.

Given the pace at which the Clarendon is being constructed, the scheduled late 2009 completion date actually looks realistic, a change from other downtown Boston condo projects that have been bogged down by, sometimes multiple, construction delays, which push off completion and occupancy.

For more information about the Clarendon, please contact us using the link at the top of this page.

Clarendon Back Bay Plywood Siding

Boston Real Estate Tidbits

Much has been happening this week, the activity levels on multiple fronts (announcements, under agreement properties, website traffic, auctions, etc.) is truly starting to create a buzz around town. Here is some of the latest.

Auctions – yes, that’s plural, it looks like downtown Boston residents will see at least two auctions in the near future, both at the Modern South End and the Broadluxe. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available (i.e. auction dates, etc.). Update: see Modern South End Boston Condo Auction.

285 Columbus Lofts – construction is flying along, as well as under agreement units. Occupancy is currently being targeted for mid May (this would be the first on time or ahead of schedule development in quite some time) and they are approximately 60% sold out at 285 Columbus Lofts – congratulations to Pat Cutter and the rest of the team there, fabulous property.

Parking Spaces – we just included a new Back Bay parking space for sale on our Boston Parking Spaces page – $90K for an inside tandem spot is pushing the envelope.

Macallen Building Video – the green Macallen condo development in what we call, northern South Boston, is getting some serious exposure from the Sundance Channel in a new feature film on the “greening of Southie”. Kudos to Pappas Properties for establishing green building as the new benchmark in Boston condos.

The Clarendon Back Bay – the ultra luxury Clarendon Back Bay began to install a huge plywood enclosure system from PERI Formwork Systems on the development. Soon the entire property will be covered in plywood so construction can continue behind it. Rumor is that large Boston Condo Guy ads will be displayed on the exterior of the plywood.

1330 Boylston Now Leasing – The new Fenway development is now leasing for August 1st occupancy. Contact the leasing team at 617 267 1330 for more information (look at that, catchy phone number, eh?).

Boston Marathon – not Robert Cheruiyot, but, John Keith. Congratulations go out to John for knocking out the tough course in a strong 3:45:29 finishing time, and for raising thousands of dollars for Community Servings in the process.

Some definite water cooler tidbits from the Boston Condo Blog. For more details, or for assistance in buying or selling a downtown Boston condo, please contact us using the link at the top of this page.

Clarendon Back Bay Condos hit Boston MLS

The all new under construction ultra luxury Clarendon Back Bay condo development released its first units to the Boston MLS today. We’ve been receiving many inquiries on pricing at this property, and have toured the sales center to get the inside scoop.

Included in the mix of units that hit the Boston MLS today are the following:

  • 589 square foot studio on the 18th floor – $695,000 ($1,179 per square foot)
  • 765 square foot 1 bedroom 1 bathroom on the 15th floor – $775,000 ($1,013 per square foot)
  • 1,229 square foot 2 bedroom 2 bathroom on the 15th floor (1 deeded parking space) – $1,575,000 ($1,281 per square foot)
  • 1,371 square foot 2 bedroom 2 bathroom on the 20th floor (1 deeded parking space) – $1,635,000 ($1,192 per square foot)
  • 1,878 square foot 3 bedroom 3.5 bathroom on the 20th floor (1 deeded parking space) – $2,500,000 ($1,878 per square foot)
  • 2,495 square foot 3 bedroom 3.5 bathroom on the 25th floor (2 deeded parking spaces) – $3,950,000 ($1,583 per square foot)

Luxury condos will start on the 15th floor of this 33 story tower across the street from the Hancock Tower. HOA fees have not yet been announced. The Clarendon sales team will host a Broker Open on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM at their 14 Newbury Street showroom. This will give real estate agents a chance to see what this amazing property will have to offer – the only true high rise condo development in the Back Bay.

For more information about the Clarendon, including exclusive Buyer representation, please contact us.