The Big Condo Squeeze in Allston-Brighton

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Would families stay in Allston-Brighton if they had a decent place to live?

Some say no — the Boston Public School system just isn’t good enough to keep families planted in A-B. Others say, yes — families would stay if they could find large enough houses and condos in a safe, quiet environment, free of drunken students.  There’s been a lot of talk about all this following last Sunday’s Boston Globe article on the big condo squeeze in A-B. The gist was that pricey McCondos are supplanting single-family homes on lots of 4,000 to 20,000 square feet. Developers are busy tearing down aging single-family homes and throwing up $400,000 condos with granite countertops, central air and Jacuzzis. As a result, families are moving out. (The same trend is happening, incidentally, in North Brookline, where the quality of the public school system is not in question).

Is the viability of A-B as a family neighborhood destroyed when condos sprout up on every available bit of land?

I’m taking the contrarian view on this one. Having spent many years living in Europe, I know that it is possible to raise a healthy, happy family while living in a condo. Kids are happy, as long as there are decent parks and playgrounds nearby. Moms and dads are happy, because there is always a neighbor downstairs to watch junior. Teens are happy, because they’ve got public transportation and independence from Mom and Dad.  So why do Americans feel that a house with a yard is the only place to raise a family?  What’s more, I’m not even sure that’s why families are fleeing A-B. (You can thank student-ghetto neighborhoods and the school system for that.)

So tell me, why couldn’t these condos make a nice home for a family?

1661 Commonwealth,#8
 Beds: 4/Baths: 2
SQ.FT.: 1400
$/SQ.FT.: 286
$399,900

120 Nonantum, #120
Beds: 2/Baths: 1
SQ.FT.: 1291
$/SQ.FT.: 247
$319,000

11 Vinal Road, #2
Beds: 2/Baths: 1
SQ.FT.: 883
$/SQ.FT.: 362
$319,900

190 Corey Road,#2
Beds: 2/Baths: 2
SQ.FT.: 1218
$/SQ.FT.: 369
$450K