The nation’s biggest landlord is getting into the business of building apartments in Boston, starting with a tower in Bay Village that will break ground this month.
Greystar Real Estate Partners last week closed on the purchase of a parking lot at 212 Stuart St., where the city in 2017 approved a 19-story apartment building. The company plans to start construction on the $126 million project by the end of January, said Gary Kerr, its managing director of development for New England and New York, and aims to open it in early 2022.
Greystar manages about 450,000 apartments nationwide — including 11,000 in Greater Boston — and is the country’s third-largest apartment developer, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. It’s been looking for development opportunities in the core of Boston, Kerr said. When the Stuart Street site — which was proposed and carried through permitting by Boston-based Transom Development — came available, he said, the company jumped to buy it. Last week, an arm of Greystar paid $17.7 million for the two-tenths-of-an-acre site, according to property records filed in Suffolk County.
“Back Bay and Bay Village are some of the preeminent residential neighborhoods in the country,” Kerr said. “Any developer would give everything they’ve got to build in these markets.”
It is planning a 150,000-square-foot building with 126 units and retail space on the ground floor. Rents will be high — Kerr said he expects studios would start at around $3,500, while two-bedrooms would rent in the $7,000 range — but will come with a range of high-end amenities, from ultra-fast in-building Wi-Fi to weekly cleaning service, included.
Greystar’s move comes amid a bit of a lull in high-end high-rise development in downtown Boston. Sky-high construction costs and some leveling-off in rents have apartment builders looking more to outer neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs, or converting apartment projects to condos. But Kerr said Greystar envisions this project as a long-term investment — one that will ride out any particular development cycle — and sees enormous potential in Boston, with its strong economy and growing tech and life-science sectors.
“We want to create a more urban platform. That’s what we’re doing around the country,” Kerr said. “We started looking at what to build and where we want to be. And to Greystar, [Boston] is an obvious choice.”
The South Carolina-based company manages 40 buildings in the Boston area, nine of which it owns. Last year, Greystar opened a 282-unit complex on Arsenal Street in Watertown, and an “active adult” complex in Barnstable. It also is in the process of building student housing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Greystar is one of a growing number of national housing developers that are pushing into the often-complex Boston market. It hired Kerr — who has worked for several other large Boston-area developers — to lead a new office here in 2018, giving Greystar a “boots on the ground” presence here. And it’s already working on more deals, Kerr said.
“Our goal is to be one of the larger multifamily developers in this market,” he said. “I think we’re going to see quite a bit of growth in the next 12 to 24 months.”