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      Blog :: 04-2015

      Boston's Best Off the Beaten Path Parks By Neighborhood

      img1If you're one of those who are still trying to get in tip top shape before the big day, check out our list of parks and paths across the city that's sure to liven up your day and prep you for Monday. And aside from the providing a path for your exercise, these parks also serve as refuge to those who might just need a little space away from the crowds.

      But if you're going away for the weekend to escape the marathon madness, don't worry - spring and summer should also provide a good time for you to sneak into these off-the-beaten path parks across the city - whether to go for a run, or simply to take a stroll during sunnier days. Here are the parks, organized by neighborhood for your convenience:

      DOWNTOWN BOSTON

      Norman B. Leventhal Park Yup, Post Office Square can be beautiful. The private park features a green oasis in the rough-and-tumble Financial District as well as a music series during the summer. It is also easily accessible via the subway, bus, or by foot. Make sure to head over to the Fort Point after your visit, and grab a bite to eat in one of the up and coming hotspots sprouting up there.

      Check out listings in Downtown Boston >>

      CAMBRIDGE, CHARLESTOWN & KENDALL SQUARE

      Cambridge Center Roof Garden This hidden, not-so-secret garden in Cambridge's Kendall Square is a perfect way to take a break from work, for those on the other side of the river. Complete with an excellent view of the city, the rooftop garden is lined with real, green grass and dotted with trees, flowers and benches. To get there, just go to the parking garage of 4 Cambridge Center and follow the signs to the urban oasis.

      Paul Revere Park This relatively new, 5-acre park (completed in 2007) in Charlestown includes a pier overlooking Boston Harbor with fish-cleaning stations that, according to the city, make it a "perfect spot for some friendly fishing." It's about a 10-minute walk from North Station.

      Fresh Pond Reservation The 155-acre lake here has been part of Cambridge's reservoir system since the 1850s, and has 162 wooded acres surrounding it. These acres include a 2.25-mile perimeter road for jogging, biking, walking, etc.

      Check out listings in Cambridge >>

      BROOKLINE

      Larz Anderson Park The largest park in Brookline, Larz Anderson is a prime destination for both a day spent outdoors and a quick afternoon trip. In addition sprawling fields, awesome views and open space, Larz Anderson provides picnic areas for outdoor grilling and celebrations. The park is available on the Green Line's D train at the Reservoir station.

      Amory Park Amory Park is nestled conveniently between Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street for easy access. With a field in the center, Amory's standout destination for those seeking a quiet, shady spot is Hall's Pond Sanctuary, a trail in the woods around a pond that leads to a public garden with trees, flowers and benches. There are also tennis courts and picnic tables on the grounds. The park is accessible by the Green Line's B train at BU West, or the C train at Kent and Hawes Street.

      Chestnut Hill Reservoir This parkland offers plenty of recreation, including tennis courts and the Cassidy Playground. The adjoining reservoir has 1.6-mile loop for jogging, striding, and more. There are also hidden paths on the sides of the loop, leading into sometimes creepy but most of the time serene parts of Brookline - including the first church in Boston, and the oldest cemetery in the state.

      Check out listings in Brookline >>

      JAMAICA PLAIN

      Jamaica Pond Also on the Emerald Necklace is the Arnold Arboretum (pictured), a beautiful destination to take in the trees in bloom this season, and also watch for birds as they return for spring. Guided tours are available starting this weekend, on April 19. To get to the arboretum, head to the Forest Hills T stop on the Orange Line.

      Arnold Arboretum Also on the Emerald Necklace is the Arnold Arboretum (pictured), a beautiful destination to take in the trees in bloom this season, and also watch for birds as they return for spring. Guided tours are available starting this weekend, on April 19. To get to the arboretum, head to the Forest Hills T stop on the Orange Line.

      Check out listings in Jamaica Plain >>

      SOUTH BOSTON

      Castle Island Located on the Boston Harborwalk in South Boston, Castle Island is a popular summer destination for picnics, parties and swimming at Pleasure Bay. If you need to get away for a day, head there to take in the atmosphere and walk through Fort Independence, a National Historic Landmark you can explore yourself. To get to Castle Island, take bus lines 5, 7, 9, 10 or 11.

      Federal Reserve Lot A small, lush alcove owned by Federal Express on the South Boston waterfront, along the Harbor Walk. It's got access to what the city calls "secluded" beaches and you can also take in the cruise ships docking at Black Falcon Terminal.

      Check out listings in South Boston >>

      EAST BOSTON

      Piers Park Located on the Boston Harborwalk (a prime destination in itself for springtime) in East Boston, Piers Park is a waterfront destination somewhat off the beaten path, complete with a great view of the city and lots of salty air. There's also green space and a fountain area for kids to play. To get there, take the Blue Line to Maverick Square.

      Condor Street Urban Wild This former marine industrial site was redeveloped into an urban wild with salt marshes, meadow grasses, walking paths, a boardwalk, sculptures, and a viewing platform overlooking Chelsea Creek. Take the Blue Line to Maverick.

      Check out listings in East Boston >>

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      Big Ideas For Construction Downtown Financial District

       

      Developers have their eyes on the sky with proposals such as the Trans National Tower.

      Developers have their eyes on the sky with proposals such as the Trans National Tower.

      As if there isn't enough going on in the Downtown Financial District, a new tower could soon further reshape the Boston skyline under competing redevelopment proposals for the retired Winthrop Square garage.

      Eight developers are vying to put their permanent imprint on the city's skyscraper set up with a potential superstructure that could rise as high as 780 feet, rivaling the 750-foot Prudential and 790-foot Hancock towers in the Back Bay.

      As you could recall, Mayor Marty Walsh's administration in February called for new proposals for the city-owned garage where former Mayor Thomas M. Menino once envisioned a 1,000-foot building. That call came after Trans Nat?ional Group -- which originally planned a 1,000-foot project at the site in 2006 -- had restarted city talks last fall about a smaller 740-foot project.

      As a response, well-known Boston developers submitted proposals last Monday for their vision of the site. Big-named developers such as HYM Investment Group, Millennium Partners, Fallon Co., Trinity Acquisitions, Lincoln Property Co. are amongst the "Big Eight" that revealed their plans, as detailed below:

       

      Millennium Partners is proposing what it calls the 'Great Urban Room,' above, along with a 750-foot tower in its plans submitted for development of the site of the former Winthrop Square garage in the Financial District. -Handel Architects Rendering

      Millennium Partners is proposing what it calls the 'Great Urban Room,' above, along with a 750-foot tower in its plans submitted for development of the site of the former Winthrop Square garage in the Financial District. -Handel Architects Rendering

       

      HYM Investment Group: A public plaza amid a new 500-seat St. Anthony Shrine Church, a new Friary and Ministry Center, and a new 50,000-square-foot Boston public school. The current St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street would be replaced with a 780-foot, 69-story tower with 700 apartments and condos.

      Accordia Partners: A 750-foot tower with 140 condos, a 275-room Le Meridien hotel, retail, civic space and a public gallery.

      Lend Lease Development, Hudson Group North America and Eagle Development Group: A 750-foot, 68-story tower with innovation economy offices, 156 condos, 288 apartments, a 300-room hotel, retail and a public green.

      Millennium Partners: A 750-foot tower with 360 residential units atop 14 stories of office space, 41,000 square feet of retail, a market arcade "winter garden" with artisanal vendors, restaurants and performance activity that Millennium compares to Leadenhall Arcade in London's Financial District.

       

      Developers have their eyes on the sky with proposals such as the Trans National Tower and suggest a new street-level look for what was the site of the Winthrop Square garage, pictured, as envisioned by Accordia Partners. - Handel Architects Rendering

      Developers have their eyes on the sky with proposals such as the Trans National Tower and suggest a new street-level look for what was the site of the Winthrop Square garage, pictured, as envisioned by Accordia Partners. - Handel Architects Rendering

       

      Trans National Properties: A 740-foot, 54-story tower with 700,000 square feet of innovation economy offices, apartments, 100 condos, 300 hotel rooms, a retail-lined public galleria, and a Boston Public Market outpost. It would also have a 21,500-square-foot Entrepreneur Innovation Center, an Innovation Sculpture Park and Innovators Walk of Fame. It would combine the site with 133 Federal St.

      Fallon Co.: Two residential buildings on a street-level retail podium: a larger 700-foot, 53-story building with 32 floors of apartments and 18 floors of condos; and a smaller 75-foot apartment building. Plans call for a galleria-style open concourse with 25,000-plus square feet for shops.

      Trinity Acquisitions: A 51-story tower with 328 apartments, 261 condos, a 276-room hotel and retail.

      Lincoln Property Co.: A 47-story tower with 29 floors of office space, a 250 to 300-room hotel, six floors of condos, and retail.

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      Need For Speed: The Boston Condo Sales Edition

      BOScondosThis weekend, Boston finally welcomed spring weather in the city. Temperatures have finally spiked up, and both house hunters as well as home sellers sparked up the ever-so-busy spring real estate season.

      On that note, we've compiled data on how fast you should be heading to open houses - particularly for condominium units, as more and more buyers are hustling after their winter hibernation. Sellers are keen to go to market, too, albeit not enough to replenish inventory levels from a year ago.

      Between the period of January 1 to April 12, there were 859 condominium units sold in 2014, a significantly higher figure that this year's 719. That's enough reason right there to list your unit now, as buyers' demands are apparently up by 18 percent this year compared to 2014. Buyer demand, which is measured by the number of offers, open house visits, and general inquiries received by listings actively on the market, is a strong indication of the pace of the selling season to come.

      Slide1

      (Click to enlarge. Data courtesy of MLS.)

       

      Currently, 2015 is slightly trailing the previous year in terms of how fast units are being sold. In the same period last year, 325 condo units were sold in under a week; this year during the same period, only 251 saw titles exchange hands. This figure however, is not reflective of a "slowdown" in the selling market, but more a confirmation of the inevitable low inventory conditions the city is currently experiencing.

      The graph details the sweet spot for how long sellers should expect their units to fly off the shelves. In essence, condo units usually receive their best offers within a week of listing. And if the first quarter of the year is any indication of the pace of property sales this coming spring and summer, sellers who do not receive a "respectable" offer should expect their condominium property to be off the market within a month or so, as the graph tells us.

      There are a couple of noteworthy observations from the data compiled from MLS that you can surmise from the graph above, but the most important one is that except for the inventory "shortage", condominium units this year have so far sold at a better pace than last year. That, in a nutshell is what the figures tells us; shorter days to offer are ahead for sellers out there who are going to market with their units. As for buyers? Well, that just means you'll have to rush yourselves to open houses as soon as properties are welcoming guests. Thank goodness then, that spring weather is finally here.

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      A Mega Project Is Brewing at South Boston's Waterfront

      Two of China's giant insurance companies are heavily investing in the ambitious Pier 4 development along the banks of South Boston's Waterfront. China Life and Ping An are joining New York real estate company Tishman Speyer as co-investors in the soon to be built Boston destination. The consortium plans to build a 13-story, 373,000-square-foot office building and a nine-story luxury condo building on Pier 4, next to the Institute of Contemporary Art.

      The introduction of foreign direct investment into the local Boston property market is not unknown, with last year's number being a very strong indication of international interest in the Boston community. Particularly, nearly half of the investment sales in the Boston area in 2014 were attributed to foreign investors.

      It is not surprising that Chinese investors are flocking in to the city, given how majority of investment bankers were educated in Boston during their brief stint here during their college years. Financial institutions in China have very stringent rules of capital outflow however, due to recent movements in their local market, investors are now able to freely channel their resources to projects that also cater to their socio-economic growth, and Boston is an education hub for the Chinese.

      The Greenway Gets Another Gem

      The Rose F Kennedy Greenway is about to get busier in the summer, as a sprawling 28,000 square-foot local food market is set to open in July. Housing over 30 permanent year-round vendors selling locally produced items such as farm fresh produce; meat and poultry; milk and cheese; fish and shellfish; bread and baked goods; flowers; and an assortment of specialty and prepared foods - the new "Boston Public Market" will surely be a destination for both locals and tourists.

      The initial vendors announced today include farmers, fisherman, and food producers from Massachusetts and throughout New England. The Boston Public Market will be the only locally-sourced market of its kind in the United States. Everything sold at the Market will be produced or originate in New England.

      To be located directly above the Haymarket MBTA station, the local food marketplace is the permanent solution to the Open Market currently only being held in the spring-summer months from a short distance away from the new location. The Market will span the ground floor of 136 Blackstone Street, which also contains the Boston RMV branch, entrances to the Haymarket MBTA station, vent stacks for the Interstate-93 tunnel, and a parking garage. The Market is located in downtown Boston's emerging Market District, next to the Haymarket pushcart vendors and the historic Blackstone Block.

      More details of the Boston Public Market aka "BPM" (including how you can be a vendor) can be found on their website.

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      Stepping Up Your Game: Staging To Sell In Spring and Summertime

      Mar23-2The promise of a "fresh start" makes spring an ideal time for buyers to hone in on a new home, and for sellers to step up their game and play Mr. and Ms. Monopoly. But before getting off to that seller's start, you need to make sure your place looks spick and span. Get your property ready to sell this spring with these professionally-endorsed seasonal staging tips.

      START WITH SPRING CLEANING

      Scrub your home until it's spotless -- and don't forget the windows, these may well be the most apparent part of the house, especially during daytime showings. Then, get out of the winter hibernation mode and declutter until your space is light, airy, and spacious. Don't stuff junk into closets, you want them to be neat and organized, or potential buyers will think your home doesn't have enough storage.

      BUFF THE FLOORS AND WASH THE WALLS

      Floors take a lot of abuse over the winter from wet boots, snow, salt, and dirt. Give your carpets a thorough cleaning, and buff worn spots on wood floors with a little polyurethane. A bucket of warm water with a few drops of mild soap and a sponge will clean off most wall marks; eliminate the tough ones with an eraser-style cleaning pad, which are available in most convenience stores.

      SWAP DARK AND DREARY FOR BRIGHT AND CHEERY

      Put away your snug winter blankets, throws, and dark-colored accessories, and bring in the spring with bright shawl throws, Plants-printed pillows and bright cloths for dark wood tables. We also recommend inexpensive staging items like towels and washcloths, throw pillows, candles and table settings in lavender, yellow, sage green and pale blue colors - as these brighten up a room and make it look fresher, increasing any area's appeal.

      AC-SCENT WITH SPRING-LIKE AROMAS

      Traditional real estate advice says to bake some cookies or spritz spiced scents around the house for a "homey" smell. In spring, try a scent that evokes fresh and clean feelings. Think cotton, sand and beach-scented candles or aromatherapy diffusers. Many establishments and even malls apply this nasal trick to connect with their clients, appealing to their senses with some aggressive detail. Don't overdo it though, or else you risk the chance that the trick backfires.

      CLEAR OFF THE COUNTERS 

      You like the convenience of the toaster, mixer, spices and coffeemaker on the counter, but to a buyer, it just looks cluttered. If you have room in your cupboard, stash counter items in them; otherwise, set aside them inside a large box (one that you can take with you during showings) and decorate the counter simply with a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit. This trick keeps the counters clutter-free and leaves more room for prospective buyer's imagination.

      DONT' FORGET THE FRONT DOOR

      You may go in and out through the garage, but buyers will enter your home through the front door. Take down the circular wreath since it reminds buyers of the holidays and implies you're not on top of things. Instead, hang a spring-themed welcome sign and put down a cheery welcome mat and an umbrella stand for those April showers.

      ... OR THE BACK DOOR

      Especially in the spring, when many backyards are still sporting bare branches and spotty grass, you want to give buyers the same cheery feeling when exiting your home as when they entered. Put containers of potted bulbs on a deck table or the back steps to add color to spaces that haven't fully grown in, a flower bulb and gardening expert.

       

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      Southie's Ambitious Industrial Transformation Project

      PowerPoint PresentationIt seems South Boston is responding to the development challenge currently happening in the city, as five acres in the Andrew Square neighborhood is proposed to be transformed into a community composed of six blocks of housing and retail complexes complete with a sprawling urban oasis.

      Plans for the gentrification were unveiled early this week, announcing eight buildings to be built in total, with the highest being 17 stories high. The site, enclosed along the borders of Dorchester Street and Old Colony Avenue, will be home to some 700 residential units and will have a bustling commercial and retail component that is anchored by 1.4 acres of public open green space.

      The still-unnamed project, proposed by Boston developer Core Investments Inc. and real estate investment firm Ad Meliora LLC, will be built with the middle class in mind, bucking high-end luxury trends in nearby Seaport District and A Street. Retail is slated to be sprawling on the ground floor of the development, including a 20,000 square-foot-plus grocery store. According to the project's proponent, the goal is to "bring economic vitality to Andrew Square by creating a walkable neighborhood with community-focused businesses". The site of the gigantic project is currently occupied by industrial buildings, with nearby parcels bought out by the developers in the past four years.

      PowerPoint PresentationThe project, in its current form, currently calls for two "slender" retail towers with 20 and 21 floors -- and heights of 230 and 240 feet, respectively -- and retail and parking at the bottom. The six other buildings would range from three to six floors. Garage parking for 450 cars and 130 surface spaces for retail customers is planned.

      The development will be built in phases, with the grocery store and the park to come first, followed by residential towers. The project will be submitted to the Boston Redevelopment Authority for review "in the near future", possibly the end of the spring months or at the beginning of fall. Stay tuned.

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      It Pays To Be Informed: 10 Tax Tips for Home Sellers

      Mar25ATwenty fourteen proved to be a great year for real estate. Sellers gaining momentum in the market finally upsurged, and with that the real estate industry is once again on its top game (locally, at least). Some, after a long and agonizing delay, have opted to take part and ride the rising real estate wave, buying into investment properties that were once viewed as extremely risky, especially because of the recession. Nowadays however, more and more people are disposing of their assets in the hopes of fetching a better-than-expected offer for their once unsellable home, and for good reason - as local market data has shown that properties are fetching a hefty margin above asking price.

      And if you're one of the lucky few who have held on to their investment property and is currently considering its sale, or have recently sold off property, then you've definitely pick the right time. One important thing to note though, is that the sale isn't the end of your real estate romance, as tax season awaits you and (your check!) this month.

      There are numerous ways and instruments out there to help ensure that you're not overpaying (or underpaying) your taxes. And to further aid you in your ordeal, the IRS has recently issued a helpful list of aid you in your tax filings as a recent home seller.

      10 Tax Tips Homeowners Should Keep In Mind When Selling

      tax-tips1. You are usually eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.

      2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).

      3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.

      4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.

      5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.

      6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.

      7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.

      tax-tips-38. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.

      9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year's tax return.

      10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

      David Paez has been successfully in the business of buying, selling, and renting homes in Boston for over seven years. He is actively aiding willing sellers in disposing their investments. List your home now and reap the financial rewards! Call David at (617) 549-9783 and schedule a no frills risk-free consultation and find out he can get you the most return on your investment.

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