Stuck in the Middle
March 25, 2014
March 25, 2014
Last week I attended an Urban Land Institute event on the “Future of Housing Production in the Commonwealth” with a panel that featured developers and city officials. Two articles in the Boston Globe this week have echoed that discussion.
Boston is certainly seeing a boom in apartment construction, but are they the right types?
We’ve been reading about luxury apartments or affordable apartments, but these don’t account for the middle of the spectrum. Like Mayor Walsh said last week at the Massachusetts Building Congress, most Bostonians can’t afford to live in the units that are in the pipeline for the city. Casey Ross wrote today that there are 8,000 luxury units coming on line in the next three years.
Developers are concerned about occupancy, but the ULI panel addressed what I think is the more important issue: the lack of market rate unit construction. The middle market demographic and the younger skilled work force are at risk of being priced out of the city. Boston is one of the youngest mid-sized cities in the country, yet how many 20-30 year olds do you know that can pay $4,000 per month?
Resolving this will be a joint effort on the part of the city as well as developers to simplify the development process, incentivize mid-market development, reduce costs and come up with long-lasting solutions. I look forward to seeing what changes come with the Walsh administration…and how it impacts development across Boston.