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The Seaport District Surges

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 10.14.10 AMIf you've ever been to South Boston in the past two years, you would've undoubtedly noticed what seems to be a sleuth of construction work, block per block. This is what happens when a city is getting bigger: it expands horizontally into neighborhoods that once exclusively housed industrial space. And though Southie is booming at a dramatic pace, there's a sub-neighborhood within it that has the city talking - and not just because of the sheer number of projects upcoming, but also because it is poised to be a "new community that serves as a self-contained city within the bounds of Boston". That is what the vision for the Seaport District is.

Seaport-sqIf you were to jump back even as late as three years ago, the Seaport District was one open and dead space, full of legal offices, and a myriad of industrial operations. Fast forward today, the Seaport District is now home to the newest and hottest strip of restaurants, ultra-luxurious condominiums, and the site many trend- and tech-setting companies that fuel innovation in the bio and tech industries.

Last month, a third annual "State of the Seaport" was held, this is an event where many of the most active Seaport players discuss what's going on in Boston's hottest locale for new development. Take a peek at the interesting insights regarding that was discussed for the Seaport's residential component development:

  • Boston Global Investors is developing Seaport Square, a mixed-use development that will include 850 apartments. John Hynes, CEO of Boston Global Investors, said that one of the things that will separate the Seaport District from other Boston neighborhoods is that it will be 30 percent commercial and 70 percent residential. He estimated that the Financial District is 95 percent commercial and Back Bay is probably 50/50.
  • Developer Gerding Edlen said they leased all 38 apartments at their new Factory 63 "in about a week" and that about 50 percent of the 202 units being developed at their building 315 on the A are already leased. There was a lot of talk about the diverse demographics of the tenant base, too." Almost every single person who lives in those buildings works within about a five- to 10-block radius," Edlen said. "The demographics in this market are not specific to age, but an aspirational lifestyle," he added. Other panelists agreed that the aspirational lifestyle was the draw of Seaport apartments.
  • Hynes estimated that there are 6,000 to 7,000 apartments in the development pipeline for the Seaport. He says the unit distribution is probably 60 percent studio or 1-BR; 25 to 30 percent 2-BR; and 5 to 10 percent other. "One of our personal corporate goals is to increase the other," Hynes said.
  • There is a lot of talk in the past year about how micro-apartments (high efficiency, low square footage units) will dominate the Seaport District. The specific aim of the project is to make housing accessible and affordable to the millennial market, whose offices are spread out in the neighborhood. However, all the excitement died down in the fear of losing valuable space to pigeonhole-sized properties. This worry was addressed by no less than the city mayor and the city planner himself, saying that micro-apartments are a component to the overall development of the area, and that it will only make up about 500-700 of the approximately 7,000 units that will become available in the next three years.

These insights are just a taste of how the Seaport is changing the real estate sector's view of properties in Boston. With the build of the city within city, we're sure that the Seaport will bring more than just a change in insight, but a change in the residential dynamic in terms of how pocket neighborhoods will be central to those with aspirational lifestyles, and play host to the growing population of the city who are looking for the conveniences modern city living.

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