Thanks to Stephen Dupuis, President and CEO of BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association), for the below article.
Having recently returned from a high-rise housing study tour of the Boston market, my top three takeaways are: it’s a beautiful city, particularly the public spaces; the industry folks there are tremendously hospitable; and, it’s very, very pricey.
The 45 BILD member developers, designers and associated firms that travelled to Boston were warmly welcomed at six different condo buildings and toured dozens of model suites including an incomparable collection of seven models at the W-Residences called Inspired Concepts by DVC (Designers, Vendors and Contractors).
The BILD trip was perfectly timed to coincide with the opening of the seven designer suites at the W-Residences which were the talk of the town while we were there. Despite a demanding schedule of events and appointments, Barbara Mihalko, Sales Director, pulled out all the stops to host the BILD delegation.
In addition to the W-Residences, we visited everything from the LEED-Gold certified Macallen building to an 18th century warehouse conversion/addition called FP3 to a high-end luxury condo development on the water called Battery Wharf and another high-ender called The Bryant.
I can’t say enough about the generosity of the local builders in Boston who took the time to greet us, give us the overview of their project and then open their model suites for us. As you can imagine, our builders benefit immensely from the exposure to different building and suite layouts, interior designs, features and finishes.
Every market is different and Toronto is a very mature and sophisticated condo market, but that doesn’t mean our builders can’t pick up an idea or two to integrate into their next project.
I also can’t say enough about the local experts — Colleen Pentland, Paul Donahue and Gleb Nechayev from CB Richard Ellis, and Fred Kramer, President of ADD Inc. Architecture and Design —- who graciously accepted our invitation to speak at Friday at 8 a.m.
The inside scoop we got from their remarks provided the context in which the developments themselves could be understood, and as is often said, at least in the design world, it’s all about context.
The Big Dig
It was particularly interesting to hear Kramer describe the way in which Boston buried its expressway (also know as The Big Dig) resulting in massive swaths of public space in the heart of the City.
I couldn’t help but think about the debate about burying the Gardiner Expressway here in Toronto so I made a point of walking over to see the results in Boston, which were quite impressive, cost over-runs notwithstanding.
What surprised me about the Boston condo market is that compared with Toronto’s, it’s very small. Of course every condo market looks small by comparison, but at less than 3,000 units (including rentals) in a good year and only about half that currently, it’s not even a tenth of the size of ours.
Despite the low levels of high-rise construction, or perhaps because of it, condos are very, very expensive in Boston on a cost per square foot basis. Combined with the fact that the average suite size in Boston is far larger than here, you would think you were buying the penthouse if all you knew was the price tag.
Thankfully, we live in a very well supplied and fiercely competitive housing market which has resulted in reasonably affordable housing.
Stephen Dupuis is president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD). He can be reached at email@example.com.