With "millennials" and "baby boomers" fleeing the suburbs for the exciting, walkable, lifestyle that comes with big city living, suburbs are increasingly trying to figure out what to do to salvage their population centers and attract young professionals and families back to town. One Michigan suburb fell on hard times in the early 1990s but is now an example for small suburbs to follow to improve their attractiveness and the lives of their citizens.
Enter Birmingham, Michigan, a town of only 20,000 residents but one which fell on hard times when they lost two large department stores and the two local theaters closed down in the early 90's. The city took a hard look at it's problems and decided to brand itself as a "Walkable Community" changing their zoning code, adapting streetscapes to be more pedestrian friendly, building parks and calming traffic to increase the economic vitality of downtown.
Some 3 million square feet of commercial development in 30 new projects came to downtown Birmingham over the next two decades. This has created a beacon for families and millennials alike to move to the quant town just north of Detroit and a successful example of converting an "auto-centric" downtown back to a pedestrian-oriented, economic driver for the town.
SOURCE- Congress For a New Urbanism
The big news out of Boston's real estate development wave last week was Related Beal's entry into the red hot South End market with the purchase of 370 Harrison Ave (the now former Ho Kong Bean Sprout Co site at the corner of Traveler St and Harrison Ave). The purchase price was an astonishing $8 million for the run down corner lot abutting the site of Quinzanni's Bakery. With an assessed value of $620,000, that amounts to a nearly 13x difference between the sale price and assessed value of the property... Clearly there were other plans at play for the lot... Later that afternoon a spokeswoman for Related announced that they did indeed have 380 Harrison (Qunzanni's Barkery site) under agreement which would give them control of the Harrison block between Traveler and East Berkeley Streets.
While the sale of 380 Harrison has not officially been recorded with the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds, if we're to see a similar multiple from assessed value to sale price at 380 Harrison as we saw at 370 Harrison that would amount to a sale price of nearly $20.2 Million*, a total assemblage cost of $28.2 Million* for the two parcels before the first jackhammer hits the concrete. The total parcel assemblage is 44,569sf or $632/sf*.
What a difference 3 years make...
Two Deeds were recorded with the Suffolk County Registry of Deeds office for the Quinzani's Bakery property showing Related Company's did in fact purchase the property for the previously estimated $20 Million, a continuation of the $632/sf sale price of neighboring Ho Kong Bean Sprout's building...
What will these excessive land costs do for the price passed off to the end consumer... time will soon tell as we await Related Beal's plans for the neighborhood.
Starting a dialogue on the future of urban living in Boston and beyond.