The latest in Boston’s building boom: condos
As Boston’s building boom rolls on, developers are building more of something they haven’t built much of yet: condos.
Condominiums are the majority of the more than 4,000 housing units that developers have asked to be permitted by the city so far this year. That’s a big shift from the last few years, when three-quarters of the new housing that has surged into Boston has been rental apartments.
It’s a sign, city officials and developers say, of a rental market that’s beginning to soften, coupled with growing demand for homeownership in the city.
“There are a lot of people who want to stay in Boston who haven’t been finding a lot of product they can afford to buy. Now the market is responding,” said Sheila Dillon, chief of housing for Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “For a moderately priced condo . . . there’s a lot of demand right now.”
That’s spurring condo projects far from the glitzy towers that have gone up in the Back Bay and the Seaport. Developers have filed detailed plans for a 56-unit condo building in West Roxbury. Davis Cos. recently broke ground on an 89-unit condo building in Allston. And in South Boston, a block-long complex known as Washington Village, with 408 condos and about 250 apartments, will be built near Andrew Square, having won approval last month from the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
“We think it’s going to be hugely successful,” said David Pogorelc, the developer. “There are a lot of people who are looking for places to buy.”
More for-sale housing and more moderately priced developments in outlying neighborhoods have been priorities for the Walsh administration as it tries to guide one of the biggest bursts in construction Boston has ever seen.
City officials will release figures Monday that show Boston has added more than 10,000 units of housing since 2011, with another 7,200 under construction and 17,285 more under review by the city. If all those get built, Boston would be more than two-thirds of the way toward Walsh’s goal of adding 53,000 housing units citywide by 2030.
And that new supply is starting to put a dent in rents, at least in pockets of the city.
The Department of Neighborhood Development estimates that rents in existing buildings have been flat or fallen slightly in older buildings in downtown, the South End, and the Fenway, neighborhoods that have seen a flurry of new high-end apartment buildings. Competition from new construction is pushing prices down, Dillon said.
“That’s what we want to see,” she said. “We want to have new housing built to accommodate growth, but also to alleviate pressure on older housing stock.”
Now they’re hoping that the competition spreads to outer neighborhoods, where rents have spiked as well-heeled renters priced out of downtown have moved in. More building will help ease that crunch, Dillon said, and more projects appear to be on the way.
While two-thirds of housing built in the first few years of the construction boom was in the core of the city, the opposite has been true in 2016 — 69 percent of the new housing that’s being permitted is in outlying neighborhoods.
As those units — apartments or condos — start to come on line, Dillon said, she would expect that housing prices would level off there, too.
“We’re seeing some really good trends,” she said.