In an effort to avoid that problems that have arisen with housing projects in Charlestown and Cambridge, the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay announced today that it has set up a private fund to help defray housing costs for potential residents, allowing the less well-heeled to take up residence in the neighborhood.
“The last thing we want to see here in Back Bay is a big, ugly tower going up on the Comm Ave mall or the Esplanade,” explains NABB chair Rich Godolby. “We’ve successfully fought off real estate developers for years, but the Boston Redevelopment Authority essentially has absolute power in this regard. Subsidizing residents directly is clearly the best way to preserve the safety and architectural character of the neighborhood.”
Under the plan, households making less than $100,000 yearly will be eligible to buy properties at a progressively discounted rate, based on the pace of inflation and the length of time a property has been on the market. For example, the sale price of a home on the market for over 100 days will revert to its assessed value from 2001. One on the market for 200 days will revert to its value from 1998, and so on.
“It’s a great way to keep the market hot in this economic downturn,” comments John A. Keith, a local real estate broker who blogs on the Back Bay market at http://bostonreb.com. And he’s not kidding; under the plan, this 1,400-square-foot two bed at 57 Marlborough St. drops to a staggering $450,000 – not dirt cheap, but certainly a steal for the location, and sure to move fast. Likewise, 136 Beacon Street’s long unsold Unit #1 plummets to $315,000, or $300/square foot – the average cost of a home in Somerville’s beleaguered Winter Hill neighborhood.
“We realize it’s expensive,” continues Godolby, “but we’re all economically-minded here. As a neighborhood, we came together and put a price on preserving the look and feel of Back Bay as we know it. People around here tend to have a fair amount of disposable income, and we were willing to spend a good deal of it to keep the towers out.”
“And looking back now,” laughs Godolby, as he looks out onto the mall from his Comm Ave brownstone, “it sure has payed off a lot better than buying Bear Stearns.”
Image: Hammer and Sickle. Public domain (obvs). Wikimedia Commons.