What $3 million gets you in Boston

The view from the deck of a town house on Union Wharf, in the warmer months, of course.
The view from the deck of a town house on Union Wharf, in the warmer months, of course.randy gross/elevin studios

First in a two-part series on luxury living. Next week, elegance in the suburbs.

When she moved to the Ritz-Carlton Residences 13 years ago, real estate broker Myrna Rothman felt like a pioneer going into the hinterlands of Midtown. Now, though, demand for luxury living there, in virtually every downtown neighborhood, is sky-rise high.

“The city is hopping,’’ Rothman said. “It’s really amazing. . . . No one would have believed it, and it’s happening. There’s an upward trend with no leveling off in sight.”

Take the $3 million price point, which is considered midrange for high-end homes in Boston. As of Monday, there were just 15 condos for sale between $2.8 and $3.2 million in the entire city—and several of them were in either brand-new or not-yet-constructed buildings. On average, they had been on the market 108 days.


“Boston is unique in that we have very high interest from the international market, from empty-nesters moving back into the city and from young professionals choosing to stay in the city and raise their children here,” said Duncan Donahue of Keller Williams Realty Back Bay. “So there’s high demand.”

Karen Peters of Otis & Ahearn Real Estate said she, too, sees young couples wanting to raise their kids downtown. “It’s great because it brings more life and vitality to the city,” Peters said.

Last year, roughly 40 percent of all downtown buyers paid in cash — no mortgage, she said.

“There’s a huge amount of cash out there,’’ said Rothman, also with Otis & Ahearn. “Empty-nesters are selling their homes in very upscale communities and moving to the city.”

The Back Bay and Beacon Hill have always had staying power “because of the Old World charm,’’ said Rothman. “But now all these modern buildings are coming and really changing the landscape.”



Union Wharf

Year built: 1978

Square footage: 2,287

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 1 full, 1 half

Monthly fee: $1,592

Taxes: $25,368 (2015)

Last sold for: As one unit for $575,000 in 1985. Combined with another town house and sold for $5 million in 2010.


A previous owner combined this town house and the one next door to create one big home. The space is now being offered in its combined form—for $5.6 million— or as two separate units, one of which is the focus here. These brick town houses occupy about two acres on Union Wharf. “It’s just a beautiful fusion, because you’re in the middle of everything, yet it has a private feel,’’ said broker Karen Peters, who shares the listing with Susan Gram.

If the space is sold as two units, the seller will build a wall between them.

This home has a lot of personality, exuding a relaxed vibe. When you enter, the kitchen, with a huge island, is to the right. Straight ahead is the living room, with sliders offering access to a deck and a view toward the Seaport. There’s a wave-like undulating ceiling.

A family room and bedroom are on the second floor, though the space could be used to create another bedroom.

On the third floor you’ll find the master suite, which features a vaulted ceiling and a small deck overlooking the water.

Karen Peters, Otis & Ahearn Real Estate, 617-721-5456, www.otisahearn.com/agent/karen-peters

Subtle recessed lighting doesn’t detract from the kitchen’s sleek look.
Subtle recessed lighting doesn’t detract from the kitchen’s sleek look.Randy Gross/Elevin Studios

The undulating ceiling mimics the sea.
The undulating ceiling mimics the sea.Randy Gross/Elevin Studios



Back Bay

Year built: 1899

Square footage: 2,153

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 2 full, 1 half

Monthly fee: $520

Taxes: $21,800 (2015)

Last sold for: $530,000 in 1993

Located between Commonwealth Avenue and Marlborough Street, this pretty brick building opens to a grand marble foyer. The two-level apartment, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and soaring windows in the family room, is the only one on the first floor. The living room’s marble fireplace is flanked by alcoves. There’s a bay window, six-inch millwork, and layers of crown molding up along the 13-foot-high ceilings.


“It’s very Back Bay,’’ said broker Stephen G. Baker, who shares the listing with Duncan Donahue.

The kitchen overlooks the living room. Have work to do? Behind the living room you’ll find an office; the apartment is approved for a home business.

The two bedrooms are downstairs, and the master bath offers a great setup. It’s U-shaped, with a tub and separate shower and a half bath along the short end and vanities and lots of closet space down each of the two sides.

The apartment comes with a deeded parking space (no piggyback parking here) and a patio out back.

Donahue Baker Team, Keller Williams Realty Back Bay, 508-397-2219, www.314dartmouth.com.

keller williams realty back bay/handout

keller williams realty back bay




Year built: 2001

Square footage: 2,181

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 3 full

Monthly fee: $3,010 (second valet space is an additional $250)

Taxes: $32,751 (2015)

Last sold for: $2.54 million in 2006

Would you prefer a view of Boston Common or of Boston Harbor? Here, you don’t have to choose. This 37th-floor corner unit at the Ritz-Carlton, with two walls of windows, even offers glimpses of the Charles River. “It’s quintessential Boston,’’ said listing broker Myrna Rothman, who lives in the building.

The kitchen includes Poggenpohl cabinets, high-end appliances, a wood-paneled refrigerator, a wine cooler, and, you have to love this, a swinging door.

You’ll find generous closet space in the master: a 5-by-21-foot wonder and a separate one that’s perfect for shoes.

Two valet parking spots come with the unit, and the building has round-the-clock concierge service and a doorman from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. There are separate entrances for the hotel and for the Equinox Sports Club (residents receive a discount). The building is located in Midtown, not far from where Millennium Tower Boston, a luxury residential skyscraper, is slated to open in the summer of 2016.


Myrna Rothman, Otis & Ahearn Real Estate, 617-828-9622, www.otis-ahearn.com/agent/myrna-rothman

virtually staged photo by Narin Oun

virtually staged photo by Narin Oun



North End

Year built: 2008

Square footage: 2,048

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 3 full

Monthly fee: $2,811

Taxes: $27,678 (2015)

Last sold for: $2.35 million in 2008

Each of the three bedrooms in this North End apartment at The Residences at Battery Wharf has a view of the water, looking toward the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument. “What I like about this is the fact that it’s the third floor; therefore, you’re practically sitting on the water,’’ said listing broker Elaine Dolley.

The apartment, with connected decks accessed via the living room and the master, sits adjacent to boat slips and across from the Coast Guard base.

The kitchen offers everything you’d expect and a few extras, like a warming drawer, pantry closet, and unusual “cat eye” granite with flecks of blue. But if you don’t care to cook, North End restaurants and bakeries are just a cannoli’s throw away.

Two of the three bedrooms have en suite baths with marble counters, generously sized showers, double sinks, toilets behind frosted-glass doors, and Robern medicine cabinets.

There’s one garage space, and the monthly fee includes use of the gym.

Elaine Dolley, Otis & Ahearn Real Estate, 617-331-0243, www.otis-ahearn.com/agent/elaine-dolley

Randy Gross/Elevin Studios

Randy Gross/Elevin Studios





Year built: Groundbreaking
expected soon

Square footage: 2,123

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 2 full, 1 half

Monthly fee: $1,007

Taxes: To be determined

Groundbreaking is expected in early spring for 10 Farnsworth, a nine-unit “boutique development” that will have some very cool touches. All the units will have floor-to-ceiling windows, and floor-to-ceiling paneled pocket doors will offer flexibility to open up or close off spaces. Elevator access, via key fob, will be directly into each apartment. On the roof, a shared space will have a full kitchen. “If you want to grill steaks up there, just step into your elevator,’’ said Megan Kopman, a broker on the listing team.

Want a home with beauty and brains? “Smart home” technology will allow residents to do things like program their blinds to go down at a certain time. Security will be biometric, with a choice of retina or fingerprint scans. Other features: 7-inch oil-rubbed white oak flooring, walk-in showers, and radiant-heat flooring.

There will be one parking space per unit in the garage, which will use an automated system to fetch and park vehicles that appears to be a very high-tech take on a sliding-tile puzzle.

Jillian Reig, Campion & Company Fine Real Estate, 617-977-4930, www.10farnsworth.com

artist renderings by rm design studio
artist renderings by rm design studio




Year built: 2004

Square footage: 1,866

Bedrooms: 2

Baths: 2 full, 1 half

Monthly fee: $2,547

Taxes: $25,983 (2015)

Last sold for: $2.28 million in 2005

Two of the best things about this penthouse are the terraces: the wraparound accessible from the kitchen and living/dining room and the one off the master bedroom. Located on the 17th floor of an 18-story edifice across from the Transportation Building and the Four Seasons Hotel Boston, this corner unit has plenty of windows (with electric blinds) and 10½-foot-high ceilings. Beautiful cherry floors in a herringbone pattern give the master and living/dining room space a rich feel. The master suite has three closets.

The apartment comes with two garage parking spaces, with the choice of self-parking or valet. A gym and library are on the third floor. The building is full service.

“Basically, the doormen do everything,” listing broker Beth Dickerson said. “They take the groceries and packages. They’ll organize cleaning if people want it. They’ll organize dog walks if people need that.”

Beth Dickerson, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, 617-510-8565, www.bethdickerson.com

Todd Mazer

Andrew McLaughlin

Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to Address@globe.com.