Waiting at the light to cross the street towards Peter’s Park, the sign for Gaslight Brasserie du Coin looms up ahead. A busy spot for classic French fare, the Gaslight attracts South End residents for a cool, sophisticated feel with a round bar and large restaurant filling the interior space.
It is just beyond those doors that you find the heartbeat of the South End. SOWA Market to your right hums with people picking up groceries from the small businesses framing the farmer’s market. Residents wend their way through the variety of food trucks parked out front, bringing gourmet grilled cheese, crepes and Korean BBQ to the typically full parking lot. Art-goers grab artisanal coffee in the galleries before browsing the artist studios in the upper levels of nearby buildings. Antique shopping sits on the ground floor of these same spaces and small craft storeowners peddle their wares outside in the open-air market.
To the left sits the new construction of the Jordan Lofts at 477-481 Harrison Avenue, a complex of luxury condominiums. 18 units are located in the space and 20 parking spaces accompany the building. Recently converted boutique condominiums, the Jordan Lofts formerly served as horse stables for retailers Jordan Marsh & Company, bringing a touch of history to the red-bricked buildings of the South End.
Tucked behind Harrison Avenue on the street running parallel at 275 Albany Street, The Troy tower overlooks the South End, housing 380 luxury residences. With a fitness center and roof terrace, The Troy brings height to the South End with extensive views of the Boston city skyline.
Turning on to Traveler Street back towards Harrison Avenue leads you to the 300 block. It is here at 345 Harrison Avenue you find the construction of two residential buildings with 560 rental units and ground-floor shops and retail businesses.
Just across the street sits Ink Block, a luxury condominium complex with three buildings each with their own unique style. Residents travel across the complex, making their way to 1 Ink, 2 Ink and 3 Ink, forming a community all their own. A Whole Foods, a Turnstyle Cycle studio and restaurant space are located on the ground levels of these residences. Ink Block adds a contemporary vibrancy to the South End, hosting movie nights on the lawn, housing a skyline pool and offering fitness classes called ShrINK. Sepia and Siena are the newest luxury condominiums to join the Ink Block complex, combining high-style architecture and access to all of the boutiques, shops, dining and vibrancy that the South End has to offer.
The South End continues to hum and bustle with new luxury residences, dining and retailers from boutiques to high-end shops, making it a beloved destination for Boston residents.
The first quarter of 2016 has continued to promote both a Buyer’s and Seller’s market. Low interest rates drive both of these markets from a price and interest rate standpoint for the seller and from both an affordability standpoint interest rate wise for the buyer. Prices rising due to lack of supply, especially in downtown Boston, combined with the lower interest rates increase the buyer’s “buying power” for a home.
Recently, the Federal Reserve Bank increased the funds rate, dropping 30-year fixed mortgage rates to a near all-time low in Q1 of 2016. So what does this mean for the average homeowner in Boston and the surrounding area? Simple: the time to consider home ownership is now while interest rates are low. In addition, if you are thinking about selling your home, your future buyer has greater buying power today so the time to sell may also be now for you.
It isn’t a coincidence that mortgage companies and banks are experiencing record high volumes for both purchases and refinances. The Boston market in particular is currently undersupplied to meet the high demand for new inventory in several of Boston’s most exciting neighborhoods. Fenway and the South End that are development hot spots for luxury-style condos including Pierce in Fenway and Siena, the sister project to Sepia, in the South End. A number of other new developments that are in the planning stages in Boston.
The bullish mindset of buyers in Massachusetts has led to the development of other suburban neighborhoods that have not traditionally seen a high volume of sales transactions for new homeowners. New properties in the MetroWest area namely Framingham, Natick, and Wayland, are also seeing higher rates of ownership for new construction. For example, Montage in Framingham has sold over 80 homes in the past year alone for both attached and detached condo product.
This is not coincidence. With rates for 30-year fixed rate loans at 3.72% and 15-year fixed rate loans floating around 3.05%, it only helps fuel the trend. National Housing Starts, a critical indicator of economic strength, were up 5.2%, much higher than expected for February 2016. Year-over-year, Housing Starts are up 30.9%, per the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, with the stock market volatility continuing to cause investors a high level of discomfort, more and more investors are looking to put their money into something “tangible,” further fueling the real estate market in a positive direction.
Boston is full of unique and beautiful living accommodations but none quite like the new proposed condo building on the site of the former Holy Trinity German Catholic Church and rectory in the South End. Located at 136 Shawmut, the revived building will consist of 33 condos with a basement garage that would fit 28 vehicles.
As you can see in the rendering from Finegold Alexander Architects that was part of last week’s Boston Globe article, the condos will be glass and steel and built to look as if they are coming out of the existing church roof. There is no timeline yet for the 58,000 square foot structure but the proposal is expected to go before the Boston Redevelopment Authority this month.
If the success of the Sepia condos is any indication, the 136 Shawmut project should be well received. Units at Sepia are selling from $459,900 to over $2 million (according to their website) depending on the floor plan and location within the building and they have sold a majority of the homes in advance of the opening not expected until Fall of this year.
This isn’t the first attempt at a church conversion and it likely won’t be the last in this city rich with phenomenal, vintage architecture that is worth saving instead of replacing. Anyone looking to live here would certainly be blessed.