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What Were the Biggest and Best Development Trends in '14?

We put the question to notables on the Boston-area real estate scene: Which development trends really caught your fancy during the past 12 months?



Paul McMorrow, Boston Globe op-ed columnist and CommonWealth magazine associate editor: Developers are looking outside the urban core. They're taking advantage of the Orange Line in JP and the Red Line in Dorchester and the Fairmount Line and trying to do some big, interesting housing developments geared at regular working people. And just as importantly, the neighborhood groups—with a big push from Marty Walsh—are starting to get on board.
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Lara Gordon, a broker in Cambridge and Somerville: Maybe not best, but the biggest trends seem to be (1) tall, tall and taller buildings; (2) "transit-oriented" development (read: no or very little parking); and (3) lots of amenities and concierge services. In my opinion, the best trend is the migration back to urban centers and city living.

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John A. Keith, a Boston broker: The number of high-end apartment units coming online was, of course, a big story. Very positive development and one that will be repeated during each of the next several years. I'm not worried about the "over-supply" since it should be a temporary thing—as leases turn over, more renters will move from where they live now to the new buildings, and new arrivals will prefer the new buildings to the alternatives: five-story walk-ups in crumbling buildings in Back Bay, the South End and Beacon Hill. If rents have to come down from the published rates in order to appeal to renters, isn't that a good thing? And, they'll "come down" in the sense they'll offer free months of rent, but in the end, they'll still be charging more than what we've seen before.

The rise of the "suburbs" is a big trend. New, dense, higher-end apartment complexes in Cambridge and Somerville (and Chelsea?) and in neighborhoods such as East Boston give urban dwellers new options. If you can handle the commute, you now have alternatives to living in the cramped downtown Boston neighborhoods. You get more room for your money in these new apartment buildings, and lots of amenities.
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Jonathan Berk, real estate attorney, founder of the BuildingBOS blog and member of Boston's Onein3 Council: Reversing suburban sprawl. Continuation of urban infill in Boston as well as surrounding suburbs including Cambridge, Somerville, Chelsea, Everett, Watertown and Revere. I'd expect this trend only to continue to spread beyond those cities and towns as well.
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Nick Warren, president and CEO of Warren Residential: We are seeing a lot of trendy amenities being added to buildings such as dog-washing stations, yoga studios, etc. Plus there has been a big push on energy efficiency, which people seem to like even if they don't really know what it means (ha ha).
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Charles Cherney, a broker in Cambridge and Somerville: High-efficiency heating systems and on-demand hot water solutions and extras likes Nest thermostat and Sonos sound system.
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Alex Hodara, owner of developer Hodara Real Estate Group: Developers are building homes geared toward tenants' living healthier and less wasteful lifestyles rather than just living more luxuriously. I have seen buildings putting in filtrated water and air systems, smart thermostats to save on heating and cooling bills, and bedrooms designed for optimal sleep.
· Our The Year in Curbed Boston archive [Curbed Boston]