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Seaport’s Waterfront Surges Ahead of Other Desirable Boston Neighborhoods

The rapid development in the formerly industrial area of Boston’s Seaport District has dramatically increased the average price per square foot for housing, especially when compared to other desirable Boston neighborhoods. As an example, Boston’s North End Waterfront, which has an average price per square foot of $996, is now comparatively less expensive to Seaport’s average price per square foot of $1,498.

The reasons behind this shift are myriad, and have a great deal to do with something known as homogeneity of housing types. In this particular case, because of the intense developer focus on creating new, attractive residential units, Seaport tends to have far more luxury condominiums and apartments than older, more established Boston neighborhoods. The North End Waterfront, for example, has numerous homes or housing units that have either been upgraded or restored from their pre-existing condition, meaning that they would not necessarily be classified as a luxury dwelling because the amenities within may date back several decades. Seaport, on the other hand, boasts a larger number of brand new, lushly outfitted and furnished units with a much higher overall cost. Put simply, Seaport has a greater homogeneity of high end housing types than the North End.

The area that constitutes Seaport’s waterfront, for example, used to be primarily docks or rail yards or parking lots, and now is host or will be soon to numerous top tier luxury condos and apartments. The area known as Fort Point tends to offer a slightly more affordable stock of housing units, mainly because these apartments have existed for years. Many of the Fort Point units are historical lofts or other converted property types, and are part of an older street grid that is home to art galleries and boutique retail. However, Fort Point is hardly immune to new development; Congress Street, which runs through the area, has seen several new tenants move in to existing buildings, as well as the construction of a new residential building at 399 Congress Street.

Based on construction news, the average price per square foot in Seaport is unlikely to take a substantial dip any time soon. Several high profile housing developments are planning to open their doors to tenants in the next year or two, and several more are on the boards. The corresponding rapid development in commercial properties in Seaport will undoubtedly continue to fuel demand for nearby housing, which obviously will eventually reach a limit due to the geography of the neighborhood. Although thousands of new units will be on the market, based on how quickly commercial property has been leased by internationally known corporations and thought leaders, the cycle of development is unlikely to slow down soon.

Older neighborhoods in Boston, such as the North End Waterfront, have a limited amount of room for new development that does not involve either the removal of existing structures, or the re-zoning of open spaces. Because of this, both Beacon Hill and Back Bay, which are considered to be some of Boston’s more sought after areas in which to live, currently have lower price per square foot averages than Seaport, coming in at $1,413 and $1,472 per square foot respectively. Seaport’s development, which has included the construction of brand new units as well as the out-building of existing industrial structures, has created a particularly hot real estate market that is being fueled by intense interest and relatively few zoning restrictions. Based on available data, leasing and renting housing in Seaport will likely remain competitive for the foreseeable future.