Part of tracking the booming Boston real estate market includes looking at trends. More often than not, these trends are being articulated and defined by industry experts—such as brokers and developers. The Curbed Cup, an annual tournament of Greater Boston neighborhoods orchestrated by Curbed Boston, offers an alternative view of what’s in demand and what’s next because it’s coming directly from Curbed readers—not strictly real estate professionals. With the 2015 edition in the books, let’s have a look at some takeaways.

South Boston is in

Thanks to Hollywood’s recent fascination with Boston’s relationship with organized crime, many people around the country probably associate Southie with the gritty depictions seen in “The Departed” and “Black Mass.” For locals, the area has moved away from the days of James “Whitey” Bulger and has become more sophisticated. Thanks to the addition of high-end bars and restaurants as well as new residential developments, South Boston, particularly its former industrial areas, is in the midst of a renaissance in mass appeal. Case in point: Two areas of the neighborhood (Fort Point and the Seaport) made it to the Final Four. The shift in activity in these adjacent areas is nothing short of dramatic. I am routinely taken aback by the interest and attraction these areas have accrued in such short time as it’s a stark contrast to the industrial wasteland I passed by as an intern in Fort Point in 2011.

Downtown Crossing is on the rise

Any discussion of neighborhood renaissance needs to make mention of Downtown Crossing. Even though we’re entering the coldest months of the year, Washington Street remains a hotbed of pedestrian activity. Three major additions are bringing a renewed energy to the area making it a destination. The retailer Primark is so popular that the brown bags with blue lettering have become an essential accessory for those visiting the area. The more dramatic shift, though, is Downtown Crossing’s push as a residential area. Thanks to the addition of Roche Brothers and the soon to open Millennium Tower, it’s shaping into a true neighborhood. The former is a particularly crucial addition because it’s the first grocer in the area and a super-convenient food option for those working downtown looking for lunch or some groceries to bring home. In 2014, Downtown Crossing was a 12 seed (out of 16) in the Curbed Cup; in 2015, it was up to 6.These neighborhood anchors will continue to drive activity and further investment in the area. We could be looking at next year’s winner.

“Boston’s” hottest neighborhood isn’t actually in Boston

The Curbed Cup draws from neighborhoods beyond the Hub, but the first four iterations crowned winners from Boston proper. Not the case this year. After finishing as the runner up in its debut appearance last year, Assembly Row took home the top prize this year. It’s hard to argue with its credentials as it’s become a premiere retail and dining destination for the area, with office and additional residential buildings soon to follow. There’s so much going on at Assembly Row and the addition of an Orange Line stop ensures that the action is highly accessible. It was a massive undertaking – and it’s still growing – but it’s a fantastic model for Boston and other cities to follow as they ponder city master planning and tackling complex challenges, like housing.