Temporary Downgrade of Boston Condos

The city has been a buzz with new developments, with living spaces being created, and/or renovated, making the excitement palpable as we enter the winter season, anticipating the completion, and commencement, of developments in 2008. But, is a “downgrade” coming?

A hub of this activity has been the corner of Columbus Avenue and Clarendon Street, essentially bordering the Back Bay and the South End. At this spot, and within several blocks, you have new condo developments that are in various stages of build, including 285 Columbus Lofts, The Bryant on Columbus, The Clarendon Back Bay, the Brooke House Residences, and Columbus Center. Additionally, you have the Albert A. Pope Building quite close. Indeed, a hub of existing and soon-to-be high-end condos. Notwithstanding, you have a number of existing brownstones just south of this area.

Boston Condo Downgrade Map

The purpose of this post is to raise the question of whether certain condo developments (let’s set aside existing brownstone condos for now) will be temporarily “downgraded” due to their proximity to construction (noise and the other standard construction site realities) from other new condo developments. Bear in mind, these thoughts are predicated on two ideas:

  1. All of the currently planned condo developments will actually proceed with development.
  2. A Buyer is interested in a hassle-free move in, and wants a peaceful scene outside their front door for the next several years.

We are beginning to run into a situation where, over a multiple block radius (essentially surrounding 285 Columbus Lofts), we have significant investment into new condo developments. Based on the timing, and location, of how these developments come online, the “quality” of these developments will be temporarily downgraded due to their proximity to large-scale construction present and ongoing at the Columbus Center job site through at least 2011 (based on current estimates).

The crux of the situation truly sits upon Columbus Center, which has potentially significant (temporary) impacts on the “quality” of 285 Columbus Lofts, the Brooke House Residences, and the Albert A. Pope Building. It’s our opinion that the Bryant on Columbus will be almost entirely buffered, given its location, from construction up the street, and the Clarendon should see little impact, given its location, as well as completion schedule (which is actually closer to Columbus Center than other developments).

The Brooke House Residences (at 79 Chandler Street) are removed from immediate impacts of Columbus Center construction, but neighbors in adjacent brownstone condos have already voiced concerns about noise and vibration, and construction has not yet moved into full swing. Given this information, when the Brooke House Residences do open, there will be some impact. If we’re drawing straws, the residents at the Albert A. Pope Building will probably experience the brunt of the construction at Columbus Center – the Pope Building, which houses very high-end condos, will be immediately adjacent to the Columbus Center job site.

The area will be lauded upon completion, probably one of the best stretches of high-end real estate in the city, but until then, Buyers need to think about how to jockey for an appropriate position.


  1. I don’t know.

    Also add to the list of nearby condo projects 75 Clarendon Street, the 46-unit building located at … 75 Clarendon Street. It will be severely impacted by the Columbus Center construction, which is why several of its residents have been so vocal in their opposition to the project (and its funding).

    Neighbors should also be concerned about groundwater issues. That stretch of Chandler street is notorious for its problems. Will all the new construction make things better … or worse?

  2. Anthony Longo says:

    Better! Downgrade to many….opportunity and excitement for most (I believe.)

  3. TonyFromTheBlock says:

    How will all these new condos affect the value/market price of condos in the existing, older buildings when the new ones go to market and construction is completed? Will the old condos go up in value because the neighborhood has upgraded? Or will they go down in price because of the greater supply new units and more competition, so to speak?

  4. Boston Condo Guy says:

    There’s no real silver bullet answer for this, as always, there are a lot of factors that would influence the outcome. However, the existing market would only be significantly impacted (in terms of price appreciation / depreciation) if it could not absorb the capacity that these newer developments create. There will always be people that want to live in the core of downtown, and thus, we’re in a situation where the additional inventory will not have a significant impact on condo pricing (outside of the normal appreciation trends that we continue to see in the downtown Boston market).

    One could debate that there are new condo developments in the core of downtown that are not being absorbed (i.e. units are sitting on the market), but this is more a function of finding a pricing sweet spot for unique properties, rather than not having Buyers interested in living downtown, or even buying downtown for that matter.