It’s been a truism of the real estate market: that the new luxury developments dotting downtown Boston have to have parking.
But the new building opening on Lovejoy Wharf near North Station this summer will test that maxim by not having a single parking space for its 157 condos.
“It’ll be interesting to watch their sales,” said Sue Hawkes, president of The Collaborative Companies, which markets condos. “If they’re successful, it could really help to relieve the pressure to have to provide parking for these big buildings.”
Hawkes and other veterans of the city’s real estate scene said 131 Beverly St., where units will range from $750,000 to more than $3 million, is the first large condo building to hit the market without at least some parking for residents.
Bostonians have long been accustomed to renting spaces at pricey garages or squeezing into street spots amid the brownstones of Back Bay and the South End. But a high-rise condo, especially a two- or three-bedroom, has typically come with access to a spot in the building or next door.
But Boston officials have in some cases lowered parking requirements for new buildings, part of a broader push to encourage more housing and ease traffic. And developers, mindful that underground garage spaces can cost more than $100,000 each to build in Boston’s super-hot construction market, are happy to experiment, too.
The Lovejoy Wharf project originally included a 315-space garage for 131 Beverly and a neighboring office building where Converse Inc. has its new headquarters. Then in 2013 the developer Related Beal asked the city for permission to scrap the garage — a move that probably saved millions of dollars — pointing to the buildings’ proximity to multiple transit lines and downtown Boston.
Now the building is nearing completion, and Related Beal will soon learn if it made the right bet on parking.
“This location can’t be beat,” Related Beal president Kim Sherman Stamler said during a tour that showed off city views, roof deck, and the lounge and billiards room of 131 Beverly. “And the building has a real presence.”
Besides, Stamler said, there are many garages nearby that rent spaces, including one in a new apartment and hotel building that Related Beal has under construction across the street.
Real estate agents who specialize in the downtown condo market say 131 Beverly will prove a good test case.
Although younger buyers moving from other apartment buildings in central Boston probably won’t mind the lack of parking, older owners might find it a turnoff, said Brian Dougherty, managing partner of the Boston office of Robert Paul Properties.
“They’re probably not going to get the empty-nesters moving in from” wealthy suburbs, he said. “One of the first things they tend to ask about is parking. But for younger buyers who already live in the city, it’s not necessarily a prerequisite, even at $1.5 or $2 million.”
The emergence of Uber and Zipcar and delivery services such as Instacart make it easier to envision a car-free lifestyle downtown, said Michael DiMella, managing partner of Charlesgate Realty Group. That wasn’t the case even four years ago, when Related decided to drop the garage.
“Back then, they were really stepping out with this theory. I appreciate the forward thinking,” DiMella said. “Depending on what happens here, you may see other developers rejiggering their buildings to reduce parking.”
There are other new buildings that, while not eliminating parking entirely, will offer fewer spaces than usual.
Related Beal recently received city approval for a 324-unit building in the South End that will have 180 parking spaces. Pierce Boston, a 30-story tower Samuels & Associates is building in the Fenway, will have 80 parking spaces for 349 apartments and condos. And 171 Tremont, a smaller condo building along Boston Common, jettisoned plans for a garage last year after being forced to reduce the building to 12 stories.
In a luxury condo market where supply is tight and prices are routinely breaking records, a good building will find plenty of buyers, said Kevin Ahearn, owner of Otis & Ahearn Real Estate. Parking or no.
“Demand is so strong with people wanting to live downtown,” he said.
“We need every bit of inventory we can get.”Tim Logan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @bytimlogan.