Business & Tech

Developer of 45-story tower changes plans, will convert some apartments into condos

Revelopment of the Government Center garage site includes two towers, shown at the right in this rendering.
Pelli Clarke Pelli/CBT Architects
Revelopment of the Government Center garage site includes two towers, shown at the right in this rendering.

In the latest sign that condominiums are the hottest slice of the local housing market, the developer behind one of the biggest rental buildings under construction in Boston aims to modify its plans and put for-sale signs on about one-quarter of the units.

HYM Investments recently told the Boston Planning & Development Agency that it’s decided to convert 118 apartments planned for a 45-story tower it is building atop the Government Center Garage into 55 condominiums.

“It’s pretty straightforward. We want to adjust to the market,” HYM managing director Tom O’Brien said. “The condo market is strong right now.”

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While the building, originally planned for 486 apartments, won’t open until 2020, the shift comes amid signs of softening rents at the high end of Boston’s housing market as a string of new luxury apartment buildings compete for tenants. Condo pricing, though, remains strong, marked by quick sales of the relatively few units that are getting built.

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That has some developers rethinking their apartment plans.

National Development, for instance, converted a portion of its Ink Block project from rentals to condos. Related Beal also waited until just before opening a new building along Lovejoy Wharf earlier this year to decide whether the complex would be rental or for sale. In the end, Related chose to offer the units for sale. Likewise, some suburban developers are scrapping plans for pricey single-family homes in favor of denser condo projects as land prices and other costs rise.

For O’Brien, selling large condos on the top 11 floors of what will be one of the tallest buildings in that part of downtown Boston makes sense.

“It’s a beautiful building with amazing views in one of the best locations in Boston,” he said. “From a risk perspective, selling 55 units at the top seems pretty manageable.”

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Work already is underway on retrofitting some of the massive ’60s-vintage Government Center Garage to serve as the base of the tower and a planned office tower next door. O’Brien said construction on the apartment tower itself should begin in the fall.

Changing from apartments to condos will require BPDA approval but won’t mean any visible changes to the tower itself. The only noticeable difference from the outside will be a lobby to serve the condos high above, instead of the previously planned 1,300-square-foot storefront at street level.

Tim Logan can be reached at tim.logan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bytimlogan.