Jamaica Plain Real Estate: $90M Housing Development Begins Demolition

JP BlogA project that began planning nearly three years ago has begun demolition on the Commons at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain. This $90M, 283-unit midmarket apartment complex is scheduled for occupancy in spring 2016.

The complex is set to include 35 studios, 108 one-bedroom units, 86 two-bedroom units, 14 three-bedroom units, and 40 affordable units. There will also be 180 parking spots and 250 bike parking spots located on the property, as well as 5,000 square feet of retail space and a marketing office.

A partnership between a Braintree and Boston-based lobbyist, Forest Hills Arborway LLC, will develop this $90M project. The permits for this development were obtained last fall from the Boston Redevelopment Authority and so using the past year to finalize all construction plans.
With total development expecting almost $300,000 to $310,000 per unit, the average rent for a two-bedroom unit will be $2,650.

The Commons at Forest Hills Station is conveniently located on a 2.8 –acre site at 3593-3615 Washington Street, minutes away from the Forest Hills public transit stop and across from a bus lot owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.

The project site was thoroughly cleaned and treated for years before demolition as it was once a petroleum distribution facility for nearly a century. Approximately 1.5 million gallons of contaminated groundwater was treated by Forest Hills Arborway LLC enabling the location to be a safe site for a housing development.

Richard High, president of one of the partnering developers, stated, “We’re all very aware of so much of the housing getting built at the top end of the market. This appeared to be an opportunity to scale down the height to try to bring the housing in at a price point that would meet more of a middle-income market.” Over the next two decades Mayor Martin Walsh is strongly advocating that 53,000 new housing units be built with this new development.

More Information: Boston Business Journal

Robin Kramer, Award-Winning Garden Designer, Encourages Use of Outdoor Space

Screenshot (50)One may not believe that putting too much time and effort into utilizing outdoor space when buying a home is worth your while, but Robin Kramer an award winning New England-based garden designer may make you think otherwise. Kramer presents the opportunities to be had when landscaping the exterior of your home.

A former children’s book illustrator and stay-at-home mother, Kramer now successfully owns a garden design firm that also offers an exterior design division that includes furniture, umbrellas, planters, landscape lighting, fabrics and outdoor pieces from all over the world. She believes that the same amount of time spent interior designing should be spent on exterior designing.

Kramer and her husband built a home in Greenwich, Connecticut where they currently live and English garden designer Simon Johnson assisted in landscaping the property. The home was featured in a garden education tour which sparked the start of her career where she met her first client out of the blue. This past summer, Kramer hosted a wedding on her property which may sound like an unusual venue until you find that it was hosted in her parking court. Unlike most circular driveways, Kramer has a large square courtyard with extra wide paths. Also, her parking courtyard leads to a raised area that doubles as a badminton court, an area that was perfect placement for a tent do dance the night away with wedding guests.

“Our parking court is such a special place; you would never know you were basically sitting in our driveway,” says Kramer. “What I try to do — I don’t think of a front yard or a backyard — I think, ‘What can the experience be here?’ A lot of what I do is rooted in European garden design philosophies. People there live outdoors more, sit around and have more conversations.”

Kramer has seen European garden design first hand having lived in England and Germany for many years. Also, due to her husband working as a global investment banker, she has moved nearly a dozen times not realizing as she dragged her children to every public garden and historic location in Europe that she was really nurturing her new career.

To Kramer, landscape is more about life than just a collection of plants, shrubs and trees. “Every lesson in life could be learned in the garden. There are setbacks and disappointments, triumphs and successes, and all the good stuff is fleeting. But people who garden are never deterred. Every season has something to offer. Every season is an opportunity to do something differently. It’s magical to watch these things happen. It’s so part of who we are. To me, it’s inspiring,” says Kramer, showing her passion for garden design.

What Kramer finds most challenging is convincing her clients to understand the importance of utilizing their outdoor space to its full potential. “I want to change the way they experience their homes and create something they’re going to want to have other people experience with them. It’s going to bring not only a deeper connection to nature, but to their family experience as a whole.”

Not only does Kramer spend time outside the home, but she also equally observes the inside of the home. She notes decorations, colors, patterns used, and the view to the outside. She likes to not only enhance the exterior but the home as a whole. “You have this structure, which is organizing your outdoor spaces, and it speaks to the architecture. Near the house, most of my work is quite linear. As you move away from the home, it is in a more naturalistic way,” says Kramer. “I think there’s a connection where you slowly move from the building back into the physical landscape. Houses here in the states are very big and I’m trying to anchor them back to the landscape.”

One then may ask about the role that weather plays into outdoor landscaping, unlike Europe, winters are much longer and unforgiving here in New England. This does not pose a problem in Kramer’s eyes, “We use boxwood endlessly. Perennial beds go to dirt in winter and you still want to see green in winter. I tend to use a lot of hedges to create more order in the landscape.”

The spaces that Kramer works with have a destination feel somewhat like an interior room. Home buyers use each room in a home for a specific purpose as should be done the same with outdoor space. Interiorly you go to specific areas at a certain time of day to trigger or create a certain mood. Ultimately, the same should be done exteriorly.

More Information: Previews

Real Estate News: Boston’s Luxury Market Ranks 9th Overall in the Nation

Boston has proven to be a top performer in the luxury housing market having 204 million-dollar home sales in this year’s third quarter. In terms of sales, Boston is ranked No. 9 in the United States of all luxury housing markets, with not many cities being able to compare to this rampant activity. Million dollar home sales are predicted to remain strong for the remainder of 2014 and continue into next year.


Nation’s top 10 cities in 2014’s third quarter for million-dollar home sales.

Although million-dollar home sales are only up 2.5 percent on year-over-year measures, they are up an outstanding 64.5 percent since 2011 Quarter 3 showing substantial growth in the market over the past few years.


Percentage growth of million-dollar sales since 2011 third quarter.

Breaking down some of the higher-end luxury home sales further, some of the top neighborhood sales include the Back Bay with an average luxury price of $4,451,000, Beacon Hill with an average of $3,878,000, and West Cambridge/Huron Village coming in with an average of $3,227,000.

More Information: Boston Agent Magazine

Real Estate News: Home Prices Rise with Green Line Extension

greenlineHome prices of neighborhoods in Somerville and Medford that have once been overlooked are expected to soar in the next few years as the Green Line adds a multi-billion-dollar extension.

With years of planning and construction still ahead, the long anticipated extension of the Green Line from Lechmere to Union Square in Somerville and College Avenue in Medford will be running sometime in 2017. Stops will be open in Ball Square and Lowell Street of Somerville’s Magoun Square, Gilman Square and a connection up to Union Square.

Desire for real estate along these new routes has grown significantly. It has been noted that real estate investors and homebuyers have been hungry to have access to some of the neighborhoods along the new route like Magoun Square and Winter Hill of Somerville. Long time real estate agents of Somerville have noted that prices seen in these areas have been outstanding. Although Magoun Square and Winter Hill do have bus services, benefits of T services cannot be compared.

Recently, homes in Somerville have sold for far more than $600,000, thus showing how much progression is occurring in this market.

David Begelfer, chief executive of NAIOP Massachusetts, a company that represents developers across the state, noted that the neighborhoods around this planned route of extension have become a main focus for developers. They are looking to build new apartment and condo buildings as soon as possible.

Real estate booms have been known to follow T line construction and expansion in the past as well. For example, the transformation of neighborhoods caused by the Red Line extension in the mid-1980s was spectacular, and we can expect to see the same positive results in the Somerville and Medford areas. Mass transit is a key element of economic growth and will add incredible value to the surrounding communities.

More Information: Boston.com

Boston Real Estate News: 2014 Building Boom by the Numbers

legends-during-600xx1278-852-1-0Boston has “hit the ground running” according to Mayor Marty Walsh on the recent building boom taken place throughout the city in 2014. During a speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Walsh highlighted the sheer volume of work underway in the city. He stated that by December 31, $4 billion worth of new construction will have broken ground; a number that is up an outstanding 16.4 percent from the year before.

Also, a total of 7.5 million square feet of space will have been added. Housing units are on track to meet a target of 53,000 units by 2030 with 3,859 currently under construction. These developments supported an outstanding 12,000 construction jobs this year.

Walsh also stated that the Boston Redevelopment Authority approved an additional $3.7 billion worth of development this year which is expected to add 10 million square feet of space, 4,700 housing units and 11,000 construction jobs. Mayor Walsh is satisfied with these numbers but does not plan to see a break in building, “We’re proud of these results…we are going to reach even higher next year.” It looks as though the future of Boston real estate will continue to evolve and improve for years to come.

More Information: Boston Business Journal

Boston Real Estate: Effects the Summer Olympic Games Could Have on Boston

Copy of bostonsykylinedayBoston 2024, the local organizing committee, has submitted a bid to the United States Olympic Committee to make Boston the host of the 2024 Summer Olympics. In January, the Olympic Committee will select one city in the United States out of all the bids to be the country’s nominee. The final choice of where the games will be held will not be announced until 2017 by the International Olympic Committee. 

Some cities that Boston is up against include Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. Each of these cities offer different strengths and experts’ believe that Boston would not benefit from the Olympics as much as other cities due to the fact that it is significantly developed already in terms of its economy. Erin Murphy Rafferty, Boston 2024 Executive Vice President said otherwise, “We believe Boston would benefit in the form of new housing, improved infrastructure, smart urban planning, new green space and much-needed transportation upgrades.” 

There is a list of key features that makes a city stand out to the Olympic Committee. Land is extremely valuable, and location is crucial. The host city is required to have big stadiums, one with at least 100 acres of property, an abundance of playing fields approximately of 30-35 acres, a large Olympic Village of no less than 100 acres to accommodate all athletes and trainers, and multiple media facilities. 

There have been no finalized plans for facilities and venues yet in Boston, but according to John Fish, the CEO of Suffolk Construction and chairman of the Boston 2024 committee, there has been talk about the TD Garden, Gillette Stadium, the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, and Boston Common as venues. There has also been talk of building a temporary Olympic Stadium in South Boston. 

“White elephants”, a term used to describe venues that fall out of use after the games but are still costly to maintain, can be eliminated by the building of these temporary stadiums. The last time the Summer Olympics were held in the United States was 18 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia, where temporary buildings were utilized copiously resulting in a growing population for the first time in decades. 

Hosting the Olympics is also known to put cities on the map and can be extremely beneficial to the local real estate market. A study done on the 2011 Olympics held in London displayed that residential property prices adjacent to the main stadium went up about $300 a week just from the time the games were announced that they would be hosted there. Prices that people were paying to rent for one night was equivalent to what you would pay on average for a whole month. Homeowners near the main Olympic stadium also saw the value of their properties increase by an average of $94,000 during the short time-span of the Olympic games. 

The long-term effects that hosting the Olympics in Boston is unpredictable but in the past has proven to be beneficial in the United States.  Property values rise, neighborhoods are improved, and people rediscover areas, thus finding city life far more appealing.

More Information: Boston.com 

Sotheby’s Auction House: Mrs. “Bunny” Mellon’s lots bring in an outstanding $218 Million

Mrs. Paul Mellon’s property brought in an exceptional $218.1 Million to total the series of sales at Sotheby’s Auction House. The three-day interiors auction finished the series more than doubling the expectations to achieve $14.3 million. Mrs. Mellon’s discerning eye was seen through the fine art, furniture, porcelain, silver, glassware, and decorations offered from her residences.

Among the most highly anticipated sales from a legendary family collection the total sales more than doubled its $100 million presale estimate. An outstanding 98.1% of Mrs. Mellon’s lots were sold. All proceeds of the auction will go to maintain and fund the Oak Spring Garden Library, benefiting the Gerard B. Lambert Foundation founded by Mrs. Mellon in memory of her father.

The first auction held on November 10 was from the Collection of Mrs. Mellon, Masterworks, and achieved $158.7 million. This auction was led by two paintings both by Mark Rothko:


Untitled from 1970 achieved an outstanding $39,925,000 doubling its presale estimate of $15/20 million. Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) from 1955, surpassed its presale estimate of $20/30 million bringing in $36,565,000. Both of these pieces exceeding expectations and were part of Mellon’s collections for more than four decades.

Screenshot (45)


Jewelry and Objects of Vertu from Mrs. Mellon’s collection were on auction for two days including the Magnificent and Rare Fancy Vivid Blue Diamond. This blue diamond set a new record price for both any blue diamond and price-per-carat selling for $32.6 million.



More Information: Sotheby’s

Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty to open an office in Cambridge, MA in early 2015

DSC_0025Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty today announced that they will be opening their first office in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts come the beginning of 2015. This transition into yet another key luxury market for the firm seemed as an advantageous opportunity that they truly had to meet with aplomb.

Larry Rideout, the Chief Executive Officer of the firm shared that, “It really came down to it being a seamless transition for our Boston-based company that we couldn’t pass up. The Cambridge market has realized immense growth over the past few years and the need for a luxury brand with the international power and local expertise like Sotheby’s International Realty here is a perfect fit.”

With now over 170 independent sales associates, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty is coming off of their most successful year ever in 2013, having sold over $1 Billion worth of real estate. Specializing in the fine homes in the Greater Boston region, the independently owned and operated business also has thrived in the Cambridge market recently. In fact, Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty listed and sold the significant 93 Winthrop Street #7 in Harvard Square. Over the past eighteen months, this extraordinary residence remains as the most expensive property sold in all of Cambridge, having been listed for $4,250,000 and closing for $3,974,000; or $1,831/square foot.

Going forward, as Mr. Rideout explains, the firm has set a realistic grand opening date for the beginning of 2015, “We are so fortunate to be backed by our own in-house marketing team of five dedicated professionals, a Relocation Department, a Rental Department, and more who are all steadfastly working with myself and my partner, COO Paul McGann, on getting this endeavor accomplished in a timely and professional manner.” It is this exceptional level of support both for their agents and clients that set his company apart from the competition, as Rideout continued by stating, “As one would expect from the Sotheby’s brand, we are excited to embark on this new challenge and bring our world-renowned white-glove service to Cambridge. As the number one independently owned Boston-based firm for total sales volume in 2014, we are confident that our spectacular marketing and referral opportunities will expose the luxury Cambridge market to a global buying populace like never before.”

Over the past year, according to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Cambridge has seen 86 closed single-family homes averaging sales prices of $1,413,632 with an average days on the market of 31.03. The previous year resulted in just 66 sales with an average sales price of $1,375,714 and an average days on the market of 53.02. This displayed a 2.75% increase in sales prices and 41.47% decrease in the average days on the market for single-family homes, respectively.

Looking to condominiums, a total of 374 closings have occurred with average sales prices of $668,190, with an average days on the market of 36.27 over the past twelve months. With a decrease in the available inventory this year, the previous year actually realized more sales of condominiums with 395, however with a lower average sales price of just $566,935 and higher average days on the market of 49.06. This translated to a 17.86% increase in sales prices and 26.07% decrease in the average days on the market for condominiums, respectively.

By extending their Downtown Boston roots, this new Cambridge venture will operate out of 1008 Massachusetts Avenue, appropriately and strategically positioned between Central and Harvard Squares and next to Cambridge College. The superb accessibility and visibility from the street-level office location will make it easy for clients to meet the Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty team and inquire about all of the luxury sales and rental opportunities available to them throughout the entirety of Cambridge and beyond. Coming in early 2015, a new luxury experience in real estate, stay tuned.

For more information to get updates text “Gibson” to 77948.

Massachusetts Real Estate Both Sales and Prices Rise in October

MARThe Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported today that single-family home sales went up slightly from the same time last year. It’s the first increase after eight months of decreases. Prices also increased in October compared to October 2013.

October Closed Sales:

Single-Family October 2014 October 2013 %Change
Sales 4,321 4,302 +0.4%
Median Price $325,000 $320,000 +1.6%

• First monthly increase after eight straight months of single-family (SF) year-over-year sales decreases

Condominium October 2014 October 2013 %Change
Sales 1,696 1,631 +4.0%
Median Price $300,000 $295,915 +1.4%

• First monthly increase after six straight months of condominium (CC) year-over-year sales decreases
• Prices up 16 out of the last 17 months

“It’s definitely a positive sign to see home sales increase in October,” said 2014 MAR President Peter Ruffini. “Buyer activity and accepted offers continue to be strong, and we’ve seen inventory starting to increase in many market areas over the past several weeks – all the key ingredients to increased sales. We hope to see this continue into next month as well.”

Inventory and Days on Market:

Single-Family October 2014 October 2013 %Change
Inventory 21,953 24,171 -9.2%
Months of Supply 5.3 5.8 -8.6%
Days on Market 100 92 +8.7%
New Listings 6,097 5,978 +2.0%

• 32nd straight month of year-over-year inventory decreases

Condominium October 2014 October 2013 %Change
Inventory 5,181 6,662 -22.2%
Months of Supply 3.1 3.9 -20.5%
Days on Market 81 78 +3.8%
New Listings 2,220 2,175 +2.1%

• 48th straight month of year-over-year inventory decreases

Taxing Phantom Income:
REALTORS® in Massachusetts and across the country are urging members of the US House of Representatives to pass ”The Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Relief Act,” during its ”lame duck” session of Congress. This bipartisan legislation would extend an expired provision that has helped millions of distressed American families by allowing tax relief for homeowners when lenders forgive some portion of the mortgage debt they owe.
“This legislation is important for many reasons,” said Ruffini. “It enables families to avoid the negative effects of foreclosure by opting for a short sale. It also keeps the market healthy by reducing the number of foreclosures – and the problems they bring to neighborhoods and communities, such as lowering property values, blight and crime.”

If this bill isn’t passed, families who were already in financial distress, but were able to sell their home via short sale will likely have to pay income tax on the mortgage amount forgiven by the lender. The prospect of having to pay a tax on “phantom income,” that these families cannot afford, will push more of them to opt instead for continued delinquency or possible default until foreclosure, or simply to walk away from the property. This will destabilize the communities where such homes are located.

The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is also working to have similar legislation enacted at the state level to protect these families from a state “phantom tax.”

About the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®:
Organized in 1924, the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is a professional trade organization with more than 20,000+ members. The term REALTOR® is registered as the exclusive designation of members of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribe to a strict code of ethics and enjoy continuing education programs.

Charlestown Holiday Stroll: Sunday, December 7 from 10a.m.

???????????????????????????????Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty is delighted to be a participant in this year’s Charlestown Holiday Stroll. The stroll will take place on December 7th from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty’s Charlestown office is located at One Thompson Square and will be in full holiday spirit offering face painting and treats for the kids from 11:00a.m. to 2:00p.m.

We will also be accepting canned goods for the “Harvest on Vine Food Pantry.”

For more information on this merry day please call the office in Charlestown at 617.242.4222. We look forward to spreading holiday cheer and hope to see you there!