Harold Brown is Worth the Price of Admission

David Bates / February 11, 2014-12:33 pm

In my featured column in Curbed on February 5th, I wrote about what many of Boston’s most successful landlords and most active developers said at Bisnow’s Annual Boston Multifamily Summit.

I don’t think I spent enough time on Harold Brown, the owner of The Hamilton Company, who has 60 years in the business, 5,200 apartments and two million square feet of commercial space. He is the most outspoken member of the panels and never fails to entertain. That’s why he’s worth the price of admission. 

The Boston investor who's comments and insights are worth the price of admission.

The Boston investor whose comments and insights are worth the price of admission.

Here’s a couple of more quotes from him:

1) “I used to be called a mega-landlord or tycoon. Now they refer to me as an octogenarian.”

2) “Also micro units, I think that is the biggest joke that I have ever heard in my life….Who is going to go in to a  studio where the toilet is in the shower stall for $3000 a month when they can rent a studio from us for $16-1700…. So I think people that got micro units better start thinking about combining them for bigger units. That’s my forecast.”


3) “They are only building another eight or 10,000 units in Boston and you think they’re going to rent up, really?  ….When they can’t rent the apartments, they got  to reduce the rents and we’re going to have to –I’m sorry to say–reduce ours.”

 4) “In Allston many years ago, when they needed more units, they discovered basements….But to market them, you would put a bush outside their window and call them garden apartments.”

5) “I want to add the latest craze, or should I say joke, is the concept of apartments with no parking….Can you try renting an apartment without parking? But people are doing it. They’ll learn, they’ll see.”

6) “Have we made any mistakes?… We bought a single family house on Linden street. We were going to tear it down and build an apartment building and when we passed papers we found that we bought the wrong building.”

 7) How do you make basement apartments attractive? “With the best merchandising gimmick there is… a low rent.”

8) “I think with the number of units being constructed, I would stay up nights if I were you. I wouldn’t sleep so well.”

9) “Just because there have been business downturns since the beginning of time doesn’t mean you’re going to have another one again.”



 “You need to batten down the hatches.