Here is the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by broker David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. This week, he looks at Millennium Place. (Last week, he dug deeply into Cambridge's condo market.)
If you are looking for a sign of Boston's real estate times, you might want to check out what's going on at Millennium Place, the 15-story luxury condo going up in Downtown Crossing.
The sales office opened on Oct. 15, 2012, a date when all that was visible was the building's steel frame. It must have been one hell of a good-looking steel frame, because on March 1, just four and a half months later, Millennium Partners, the condo's developer, announced it had put under agreement 130 of the buildings 256 units. More than six months away from occupancy, the luxury project was 51 percent sold out.
Joe Greenough, a loan officer who handles condo construction projects at Salem Five, calls the sales pace "extraordinary." Yet, even "extraordinary" seems to be an understatement. In the same time period that Millennium Place sold 130 condos, Beacon Hill sold only 56 condos and Charlestown sold 87. Millennium Place was outselling entire neighborhoods!
How did this project achieve what the developer told me were for it "record initial sales?" According to Millennium Partners, "There is no other product of this caliber on the market in Boston," and the sales "affirm the quality and value associated with the Millennium Partners brand."
Maybe that's true. It was about a decade ago that Millennium Partners developed the incredibly successful Ritz-Carlton Residences on Avery Street, a project that may stand alone in the annals of Boston development for excellence in vision and execution. The Ritz-Carlton development re-invented the neighborhood in which it was located, paving the way for Millennium Place.
As well, can there be any doubt that Millennium Place has an amazing facade and kick-butt finishes? Did consumers respond to these emotional pulls? It could be. Then again, it could be that the Millennium "pace" is just a sign of Boston's real estate times--an era characterized by heavy demand, record low inventory, and several years of curtailed new development.
Keep in mind, when marketing started for Millennium Place (Oct. 15), real estate buying was technically out of season; the holidays were a distraction for most area residents; and Mother Nature was blasting the region her best shots. Yet, without bricks and mortar, or even the help of MLS exposure, this building sold 130 units. Incredible!
Compare the Millennium pace to the pace of some other recent high-profile Boston developments. The newly constructed full-service building located at 45 Province is about a quarter-mile from Millennium Place. It is no slouch for quality. Yet, this project had the misfortune of coming to market in 2009; and a search of MLS and public records shows 45 Province closed only 15 condos in 2009 and only 11 in 2010.
As well, The Clarendon, an impressive, new high-rise with a Back Bay address, also launched in 2009, and took more than three years to sell 100 condos, a plateau Millennium Place reached in perhaps a little over three months.
Was it the developer's expertise, luck, or timing that led to Millennium Place becoming the hottest development in Boston? You be the judge.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]