Developer’s Projects Take Contradictory Stands on the Value of Boston Parking

David Bates / April 26, 2017-11:26 am

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Related Beal is very publicly in the midst of developing Boston living spaces without parking.

At the same time, and somewhat less widely-known, they are also developing Boston parking without living spaces.

You heard me right.

On Lovejoy Wharf, abutting a bevy of Boston transportation modalities, the development company is telling 157 soon-to-be luxury condo owners that they don’t need garage parking and, as such, the development will have no parking.

But about half a mile away from that very development in Beacon Hill, a Boston real estate market that is notorious for condos which have no parking, the same company is asking $350,000 for every garage parking space listed in its condo conversion of the spaces within a 1919 four-story brick parking garage.

I kid you not.

Beal is currently playing both sides of the parking value coin: We don’t think it’s necessary to have parking with your Boston home, but if you think it’s necessary we’ll sell it to you for just $350,000.

Whether Beal can sell Lovejoy Wharf’s 157 high-end homes without parking is a Boston real estate story about to be told. But when it comes to converting a Beacon Hill garage into parking condominiums, who can argue with the development company’s determination of highest and best use?

The first conversion of parking spaces into condominiums at Beacon Hill’s Brimmer Street Garage is the stuff of real estateBrimmer St 2 legend. In 1979, Jonathan Davis originally offered the garage’s valeted spaces for $7,500 each. Last year, they fetched $400,000 each. In between, their owners enjoyed parking peace of mind and hit financial home run after financial home run.

The absence of Beacon Hill parking, combined with the incredibly able buying demographics that live there, has provoked a few parking space owners to ask for even more than the garage’s world-renowned going rate. In 2015, I wrote about an owner who put his Brimmer Street Garage spot up for sale for a jaw-dropping $650,000.

Not even two years ago, Beal purchased The Charles Street Garage (144-162 Charles Street) for just under $850 per square foot. The strategically located 47,360-square foot building is comprised of street level retail and three floors of parking.

The parking listings the development company recently entered into MLSPIN, while categorized as land, do not show their size of the land, an amount that is somewhat humorously reflected in acres in the listings database. But assuming Charles Street’s spaces are – on average – the same size as Brimmer Street spaces (163 square feet), if Beal can get their $350,000 asking price, they would be selling at $2,147 per square foot. Holy 2017, that’s premium square foot pricing in any Boston real estate segment.

And unlike Millennium Tower Boston, where  the only condos which attracted a similar price per square foot were pretty much located on the 40th floor and above, the garage offerings require no flashy finishes to be installed and no high-end kitchens to be constructed. In fact, because of the valet service, after purchase folks may never see their space again, let alone revel in it’s fine feel.

One potential obstacle to Beal’s parking sell-out, however, might be that the garage is purportedly unable to accommodate minivans, midsize and large SUVs, pickup trucks, and passenger vans. If the development company can cure this detrimental aspect of the garage, who knows, perhaps they can get even more than $350,000 per space?

Another significant benefit to the conversion for the development company is that there is presumably no down time due to construction in developing the garage; while the company markets the parking condos, the garage can continue to operate as-is, charging its hourly, daily, and monthly rates to those who can’t pony up $350,000 for a deeded parking space and others who want short term parking.

I have to admit that when I heard about Beacon Hill parking being offered for $350,000, it initially struck me as too low. “The price is too low” seems like a pretty funny visceral response upon hearing of a $350,000 parking space, but the new development had undercut the last several Brimmer sales by $50,000. But in assessing the future value of parking, I have to remember this is an unusual time for parking in the city. It’s the era of Uber, Zipcar, Hubway and perhaps even of the self-driving car. So, despite that my review of the Hill’s 147 residential sales in 2016 revealed only about five that included garage parking, I feel confident in writing that parking values in Beacon Hill have already peaked. I’m sure everyone with the exception of the developer is looking forward to the day when Beacon Hill parking drops to that giveaway price of $325,000 per space, LOL.

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The Development Story Behind The Brimmer Street Garage

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