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New People, Developments Lead to 'Hyper-Inflated' South End

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Here's the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends and people you would not otherwise notice. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.

Ted Pietras has been a South End broker and resident for 34 years. He is actively involved in the community and his passion for the South End is clear. Recently, we spent a few minutes discussing this key Hub market.

What do you think makes the South End different?
It's probably more heterogeneous than most other neighborhoods, both in nationalities and income. There is a lot of the diversity that is here and that is going to be here for a long time and everybody lives together. Not that everybody is best buddies. But it makes for a very diverse community. It has its appeal. It's appealed to me for 34 years.

So you're saying it's diverse, but it feels like a neighborhood?
Oh, absolutely. There's like 13 or 15 neighborhood associations in the South End. Back Bay has one association for the entire neighborhood

How has the South End changed?
It definitely has a high-end that it never had back 34 years ago, when I first lived here. I was a young kid, loving the funky weirdness going on here. It was a lower-end neighborhood and it was wild and crazy and fun.

Who is the typical South End buyer today?
I don't think there is a typical South End buyer. People just like the South End because of the diversity. We've got a lot of foreign nationals from Europe or Asia. We've got people that are moving in from the Weston, Wellesley suburbs because their kids have gone off to college and they're empty-nesters. You got the young money managers that want to be here because it's funky, a lot of good restaurants and a bunch of other money managers they know live here. … It's just different types of people that like the South End vibe.

How do you think the Ink Block will impact the South End?
Is the Ink Block going to be integrated with the South End or is it going to be like the Ritz Carlton condos downtown that for years have been kind of isolated and an oasis? Sometimes you have developments that are an oasis that do fine. The Ritz Carlton did fine over the last 12 or 14 years. Just now you are getting a little bit more of a neighborhood down there, but people didn't care about neighborhoods, they just wanted a nice place to live. To me, the judgment is out on whether the Ink Block will be integrated with the South End or whether they are going to be an isolated oasis.

Describe the current South End real estate market?
Ah, it's been amazingly hyper-inflated for the past five years and it keeps going up. I think the increase is slowing down, which it hopefully is because it can't keep going up at 10 percent a year like it had been. But, like everything else in town, it's high demand and low supply.

Is there a property that reflects the new pricing in the South End?
The Chevron on Tremont Street, across from the Atelier. A year and a half ago, people were paying $3.2 million to live in it … Also, I just looked at this little one-bedroom on West Newton, a re-sale that sold for $1,128 a square foot. New construction has been getting up to $1,100 a square foot in the South End in the Atelier or in the Bryant because they're exceptional buildings with full services, but a normal condo on a side street getting $1,100? Like, wow!

How important is parking as an amenity for a South End condo?
It depends on the person because a lot of people buy them without it. Not that many buildings have parking.

Please comment on the public transportation available in the South End
The Silver Line runs in the middle of it and takes you to either Downtown Crossing or to South Station. If you go to South Station, you connect and go to the airport. The 43 bus runs up the middle of Tremont Street and goes all the way to Dudley from the Boston Commons. Then you have the Orange Line, sitting over between Clarendon and Dartmouth.

With the run-up in prices, are some typical South End folks getting priced out?
They already have been. The first batch went when rent control got voted down statewide, 20 to 25 years ago. There were a whole bunch of nice people who lived here in rent-controlled apartments.

Are some South End folks migrating to South Boston?
Yes. You get more bang for the buck in South Boston.

What to do you think will happen in the South End real estate market in 2015?
It all depends what goes on in the national, international economy. It's all connected. If something bizarre doesn't go on,we should have a good year.
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]

The Ink Block

Harrison Avenue and Herald Street, boston, Ma