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Multi-Family Pipeline Filling Up


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Multi-Family Pipeline Filling Up

Bay State Apartment Owner is the official publication of the Rental Housing Association. ©2011 The Warren Group Inc. and the Rental Housing Association. All rights reserved. The Warren Group is a trademark of The Warren Group Inc. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher.

A division of the

Greater Boston Real Estate Board One Center Plaza, Mezzanine Level Boston, MA 02108 Phone: 617-423-8700 Fax: 617-338-2600

RHA Officers President: President Elect: Secretary: Executive Director:

Richard Henken Karen Fish-Will Lynn Bora John E. Lafferty

Multi-Family Pipeline Filling Up

Several large multifamily projects are on tap for Boston, as the apartment market strengthens.


CONTENTS Published By 280 Summer Street, Boston, MA 02210 Phone: 617-428-5100 Fax: 617-428-5118

President’s Message


Chairman CEO & Publisher President Group Publisher & Editor in Chief

Executive Director’s Message

When the Then Becomes the Now


Finance & Administration Controller / Director of Operations

Photo Gallery


Jeffrey E. Lewis

Editorial Custom Publications Editor Associate Editor

Christina P. O’Neill Cassidy Norton Murphy

Advertising & Circulation Publishing Division Sales Manager Advertising Account Manager Advertising, Marketing & Events Coordinator



RHA Calendar


Design & Production Creative Director Senior Graphic Designer Graphic Designer

Timothy M. Warren Timothy M. Warren Jr. David B. Lovins Vincent Michael Valvo

George Chateauneuf Mark Schultz Emily Torres John Bottini Scott Ellison Ellie Aliabadi

And the Winners Are…

National Apartment Association Education Conference & Trade Show RHA Business Exchange RHA Spring Golf

Owners Wait to Hear: Will it be Punishment or Payment?

President’s Message


And the Winners Are…


It is exciting, as we approach the 20th annual Rental Housing Association’s President’s Awards dinner, to announce our winners. Much like the awards in the entertainment industry, the announcement of the RHA President’s Awards winners is preceded by speculation and met with eager anticipation. At its most basic level, the Industry Excellence award is presented to an individual whose conduct and character personifies the standard of excellence the recipient has established for our industry. Our Excellence in Public Service award rec-

ognizes an individual who has chosen a career in service to the public and by whose actions the availability of and access to quality rental housing for our most vulnerable individuals, households and families has been expanded. I first met Bob Verrier, the recipient of the 2011 RHA President’s Award for Industry Excellence, in 1997. I was an inexperienced young developer who knew just enough to get me into trouble. Our first project together was a large tax credit acquisition/rehabilitation deal, with a multimillion dollar construction budget. Bob could not have been a more supportive mentor, answering all of my questions (the good, the bad and the ugly), and generously

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giving of his time to ensure not only the delivery a successful project, but that the lessons learned would prepare me for success throughout my career. I know that many of my peers have had a similar experience with Bob, who is not only the best developers’ architect many of us have ever worked with, but is also a uniquely gifted teacher and friend who generously shares his time and experience. Bob is vice president, managing principal and co-founder of The Architectural Team (TAT). Because the firm has built more than 45,000 units of affordable housing, Bob’s diverse expertise is often sought in areas beyond traditional design services, particularly real estate development where he is revered for his understanding of HUD, MassHousing and other agency financing programs. He is a leader in preservation and adaptive re-use, having been recognized with the National Historic Preservation Award for the preservation and adaptive reuse of the Baker Chocolate Factory in Dorchester’s Lower Mills neighborhood. Tina Brooks will be honored with the 2011 RHA President’s Award for Excellence in Public Service. Tina was one of the longest-serving senior members of the Patrick administration and a top adviser to the governor on housing issues as undersecretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. With more than 18 years of experience in affordable housing finance and development, Tina was a key architect in expanding affordable housing opportunities in Massachusetts and a leader in the Commonwealth’s antihomelessness efforts. She recently accepted the position of executive vice president at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), in New York City. As many of you, I have had the pleasure of working with Tina, whose

deep understanding of and commitment to solving some of the state’s most intractable preservation issues ushered in a new era at DHCD. Under Tina’s leadership the department has worked tirelessly and successfully to expand housing opportunities for the state’s low and moderate income citizens through a combination of new construction and preservation – and it was Tina and her staff who were able to work with all of us in the industry to battle through the economic doldrums of the last few years by offering up increasingly creative packages of credits, loans and grants to get deals done. Tina and her staff also were integrally involved in developing Chapter 40T – An Act Preserving Publicly Assisted Affordable Housing – which, in addition to ensuring that low and moderate income residents are protected in a way that does not materially impact a project’s value, spawned a number of measures, including the governor’s Preservation Advisory Committee, which provides improved tracking of at-risk projects, an early warning system for potential opt-outs, and the development of an objective, data-driven approach to prioritizing the use of public resources devoted to preservation. These measures will have long lasting positive effects on the way affordable housing gets built and/or preserved in Massachusetts for years to come. Not without coincidence, both of our recipients most recently worked together on the Saunders School, an adaptive re-use and historic restoration into 16 two-bedroom units of housing with supportive services for homeless families in Lawrence. Bob and TAT tackled the design side, Tina assisted in the financing. Peabody Properties serves as the manager of the community. And so, when I take the podium on Dec. 1 at the InterContinental Boston and recite the words “… and the winners are,” we will all know that the true winners are the people whose lives have been touched by Bob and Tina, the industry that has been blessed with their leadership, and the public that has been well served by their dedication and advocacy. n Richard J. Henken is president of Schochet Associates/Federal Management Co., Inc. and 2011 president of the Rental Housing Association.

This message is brought to you by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston Public Health Commission, and made possible with funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Third Quarter 2011



Executive Director’s Message BY JOHN E. LAFFERTY

When the Then Becomes the Now


ne of the ongoing challenges in preparing our quarterly publication, Bay State Apartment Owner, lies in writing stories that will remain relevant through the publication date, which can be up to six to eight weeks in the future. To illustrate, on Aug. 4, the stock market plunged 500 points, all the gains from 2011 were erased and the futures were in a decidedly downward trend. The outlook for the European economy was not positive and our leadership in Washington had just staggered through the debt ceiling debacle. Where will we be in October, when this issue is distributed?


While we do not downplay the impact of the serious economic conditions we are facing as we write this piece, we are in an industry, which, while cyclical, does tend to move in trends over the long term and not dramatic swings over the short term. The reasons are many: significant barriers to entry into the market constrain supply; strong demand pushes occupancy; professional management insures credit-worthy residents can expect to receive quality rental housing; and written leases bring some measure of predictability to the turnover process. It is fitting, therefore, that this issue feature articles on the long term political initiatives to achieve our energy independence and reduce environmental pollution; profiles on three new rental housing development

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Third Quarter 2011

projects getting underway in Boston, each with a long lead time; and our president’s column, announcing our Industry and Public Service award recipients, individuals distinguished for their long-term commitment to the creation of affordable housing. The industry interfaces with longterm economic and energy efficiency policy and production issues at many levels. First, we are an economic engine. The industry creates local employment opportunities, first in construction (it is hard to outsource site work to China) and then sustainable jobs in the marketing, maintenance and management fields. We have a vested interest in achieving building energy efficiency. Whether we are responsible for the cost of energy consumption or that cost is borne by the resident, it is the total occupancy cost our residents compare when making a housing decision. Energy policy should and can encourage building energy efficiency through financial incentives that translate into reduced borrowing costs and payback periods that justify the capital expense. And finally, we have long maintained that the solution to housing shortage is production. Our award winners have time and time again shown how, with the appropriate and necessary incentives and supports, it is possible to provide quality and affordable housing to those most in need, especially families encountering homelessness. And so, the future tense has become the present, and what was the present now is the past. The economy is what it has become and history has decided on the economic significance, or lack thereof, of Aug. 4. We, however, keep on, producing shelter for families, individuals and households; creating both jobs and careers; and shaping the environmental future that generations to come will encounter. n John Lafferty is the executive director of the Rental Housing Association, a division of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board.

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Missed the 2011 naa education conference & exposition? Purchase recordings and learn at your own pace. The 2011 naa education conference & exposition has passed, but you can still get something out of it. Visit and select your favorite from the 40 breakout sessions and purchase session recordings to listen to and watch whenever you want. It’s yours to keep—having this material on hand to reference throughout the year is some serious value.

Multi-Family Pipeline

Left to right: Renderings of AvalonBay’s 77 Exeter Street apartment complex; an elevation for The Victor, a project of Simpson Housing LLLP; and AvalonBay’s 45 Stuart Street project.



Third Quarter 2011


number of major Boston-area apartment projects are moving through various stages of the development pipeline, as the Bay State recovers faster than the rest of the nation from the Great Recession and as investors see future profits in new multi-family residences. Experts warn the area’s nascent apartment-development surge could still stall, especially with the recent turmoil in the global markets caused by debt fears both in the U.S. and Europe. Still, investors seem to be taking a long-term view towards Boston’s housing-market needs, figuring the area’s historic shortage of housing provides an opening for new apartment buildings aimed largely at young professionals and retiring “empty nester” Baby Boomers. In recent months alone, developers have broken ground, received necessary approvals or proposed new multi-family residential projects for East Boston, the Back Bay, Chinatown, the old West End, the Fenway, North Station and other neighborhoods within the city. Other multi-family projects are

being eyed in suburban areas of the state as young professionals shy away from buying homes in the current topsy-turvy economy and opt instead for rentals. Following is a look at some of the area projects being proposed or already getting ready under way:

AvalonBay Communities Inc. – The Avalon Exeter AvalonBay’s proposal to build a new 28-story, 187-unit apartment complex in the Prudential Center area – where it owns three other residential towers – had been delayed for two years, thanks to economic woes, but Michael Roberts, vice president of development at AvalonBay, said now is the right moment to move forward with the selffinanced project at 77 Exeter Street. “It’s taken a long time,” said Roberts of the zoning approval process and recession-associated delays. “But it’s been a very active, very thorough process. The recession required some big [scheduling] adjustments, but we think this is a good example of the way to do business. We took a cooperative approach.” AvalonBay has already begun

Filling Up

relocating utilities in the densely built Prudential area, where it intends to construct the apartment tower on top of an existing 3,000-car, underground garage. If all goes well, full construction is expected to start in late summer or early this fall. Because of the urban complexity of the site, AvalonBay anticipates spending up to $100 million on the project. But Roberts said the company is convinced it’s a good long-term investment. “The fundamentals are there,” he said. “The Back Bay has become a 24/7 area. It’s one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the nation.” The tower, once finished, will include 32 studios (at about 500 square feet each), 52 one-bedroom units (about 800 square feet each), 83 two-beds (1,300 square feet each) and 20 three-bedrooms (1,650 square feet each). Rents will range from $2,000 for studios to $4,000-plus for penthouse apartments with “terrific views of the Charles River.” The north side’s exterior will be covered with glass; the south side

By Jay Fitzgerald

exterior will be a combination of glass and pre-cast cement; and the east and west sides will be a mix of the two, said Roberts. “The building is designed to fit into its surroundings,” he said. The apartment interiors will have a “modern feel,” with wood floors and modern appliances. To comply with LEED standards, the building’s main environmental attraction will be its “tightness” of design, promoting energy efficiency throughout, said Roberts. Builders will make full use of recycled materials and the most up-to-date water conservation technologies.

AvalonBay – 45 Stuart Street While AvalonBay’s Exeter Street building starts construction this year, the company is already pushing into the development pipeline yet another apartment project. This time it’s in the Theater District/Chinatown area at 45 Stuart Street, right next to the famous Jacob Wirth restaurant. Jacob Wirth will remain open under separate ownership and management. “It’s another exciting opportunity

for us,” said Roberts. “It’s in a very active location, amid the Theater District and Chinatown and so close to Downtown Crossing and the Financial District.” The company has only recently filed its project-notification form with the city of Boston, so many details of the planned building are not available. But AvalonBay hopes to build a 29-story, 404-unit apartment complex on the site, which is now a parking lot. The structure will contain studios, one- and two-bedroom units, and penthouse suites, Roberts said. The Stuart Street project has a “little bit [of a] different market” compared to the Exeter building in the Back Bay. The target audience will probably tilt more towards young professionals, though potential rental prices haven’t been established yet. “There’s a wide net we can cast for renters,” Roberts said of the Stuart Street site. “On average, the units will probably be a little smaller [than at the Exeter].” Though the building will comply with the city’s high environmental standards, it’s not known yet what Third Quarter 2011



Another view of AvalonBay’s 77 Exeter Street; Prudential Center Garage is at left.

materials might be used for the exterior and interiors of the building, Roberts said. “It’s so early in the process,” Roberts said of the various unknowns associated with the proposed Stuart Street complex.

Simpson Housing LLLP – The Victor Now that the Big Dig is finished in Boston, there’s a miniland rush underway to develop sites along or near the new Rose Kennedy Greenway. At the greenway’s northern end, near North Station and TD Garden, Simpson Housing broke ground in August on The Victor – an 11-story, 286-unit apartment complex at 95 Haverhill Street, just off Causeway Street. Like other construction projects, development of The Victor was delayed for two long years due to the recession. “The economy definitely put us on hold,” said Patrick McMahon, vice president of development, Northeast Region, at Simpson. But Simpson recently locked up a loan from US Bank and now it’s off to the development races for The Victor, whose name has no known association with anything in Boston. The idea was to come up with a 10


Third Quarter 2011

fresh name to a new building in a new developing area of Boston, a company spokesman said. The $140-million Victor, which will have 17,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, will also target young professionals, with rents ranging from about $2,000 to $4,000. But McMahon said his company is encouraged by the recent tenant mix at the new Archstone Avenir Apartments, at 101 Canal Street, just blocks away from the planned Victor. “It could be everyone,” McMahon said of potential tenants working in the Financial District and Massachusetts General Hospital. There also could even be some graduate-student renters at The Victor, he said. Still, Simpson is operating on the assumption that apartments will be most attractive to single and young professional in their late 20s to early 40s. Thus, the apartments will average only about 810 square feet each. About 75 percent of the units will either be studios, one-bedrooms or one-bedrooms with a den. There will be no three-bedroom apartments, McMahon said, indicating Simpson doesn’t see many families living at the future complex. The Victor, which Simpson hopes to complete by 2013, will have glasscurtain walls on the exterior fronting

Causeway Street and overlooking the Zakim Bridge. The other sides will reflect the “old industrial-mercantile aesthetics” of the near North End area, so there will also be heavy use of metal and masonry panels, said McMahon. The Victor will feature a fifth-floor “roof garden,” complete with a small lawn and plantings, and a tenth-floor outdoor terrace, with a wooden deck, tables and seating. Inside, there will be a “gaming lounge,” where tenants can have small parties or gatherings, with use of a chef’s kitchen. Each unit will have Italian-made cabinets made of high-quality aluminum covered by a “wenge wood” finish. “They’re going to have a very European feel,” McMahon said of the cabinets and kitchens. To make the building more environmental friendly, the roof will be covered by a white-membrane surface, rather than a black membrane, and each unit will have its own individual energy meters.

Equity Residential – Old West End Equity Residential’s latest proposed West End development appears to be at the end-stage of a long zoning development process. Though Equity’s plans for two more apartment towers in the area could still be abandoned unless a final agreement is reached, Equity’s

Greg White said he’s confident a deal will be struck in the end with the city and neighbors, with construction starting as early as next year. The debate now centers on the planned design and density of the proposed seven-story, 500-unit building on Lomasney Way, currently the site of an existing parking garage facing toward the TD Garden. The biggest challenge for Equity is making sure there are enough units in the two towers to financially justify the tearing down of what most people consider an ugly 650-space auto garage now on the site. “To underwrite this is very difficult,” said White. “It’s doable, but we don’t have much room to play around with.” Equity Residential – which already owns the two Longfellow towers, two Emerson towers and three three-story townhouses in the West End complex – is convinced now is the time to build new apartments, as rents continue to increase in the Boston area, said White. Assuming the project gets the final OK, the target audience would be young professionals working at MGH and in the Financial District, he said. The two towers – 21 stories and 28 stories in height – would have a rent range of between $2,000 and $4,500. Studios would average about 500 square feet each; one- and two bedrooms would average 725 square feet and up; and three-bedroom units would by about 1,100 square feet. The exterior of the building will tentatively be pre-cast concrete with glass curtain walls and punch windows, White said. Equity was pleasantly surprised when it built its three new townhouses a few years ago in the old West End and found that many Financial District workers wanted to live in them, said White. With spectacular views of the Charles River, Boston Harbor, the Zakim Bridge and North Station, demand for the new apartments should be strong, said White. Though final design details haven’t yet been hammered out yet, the future towers will include 24-hour concierge service and other “full amenities,” White said. n Jay Fitzgerald is a freelance writer.



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Photo Gallery National Apartment Association (NAA) Education Conference & Trade Show June 2011, Las Vegas

Rental Housing Association (RHA) Business Exchange July 2011




Third Quarter 2011

Rental Housing Association (RHA) Spring Golf June 2011 LeBaron Hills, Lakeville


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More than $11 billion in lending for affordable housing‌ and counting

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Owners Wait to Hear: Will it be Punishment or Payment? Energy Efficiency Rules from Feds, State Debated


arrots or sticks? Incentives or penalties? Most building owners know which one they would pick. Unfortunately, they may not get to choose. Efforts are underway at the state and federal levels to improve building energy efficiency. These efforts are part of a long-term strategy to insure the energy independence of the U.S. by lowering energy consumption, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions and boost overall environmental air quality. The feds would do this by offering incentives to building owners to make energy efficiency improvements. Massachusetts, on the other hand, seems to be pursuing a more punitive strategy of “energy labeling” that would stigmatize inefficient properties in an effort to force property owners to make energy efficiency upgrades.

Carrots In a rare show of bipartisan support, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently passed Senate bill S-1000 on a vote of 18-3. The bill now goes before the full Senate for action. The centerpiece of the bill is a federal loan guarantee program for energy retrofits for multi-family apartment buildings and other commercial buildings. The program would guarantee up to 90 percent of the principal on a loan of up to $10 million per project. The Department of Energy (DOE) could issue the guarantee on a portfolio or an individual project. “There is no mandate,” said Greg Brown, vice president of government affairs at the National Apartment Association (NAA). “The government is simply saying, ‘If you want to do this, we’ll guarantee the loan.’ We’re pleased with the incentive section of the bill. We think it’s the right approach.” 14


Third Quarter 2011

More problematic, however, is the building code section of the bill. S-1000 requires the DOE to establish energy performance targets and develop building codes accordingly. Brown said targets are an improvement over previous House bills that mandated specific energy savings on buildings by certain dates. “The numbers were pretty arbitrary,” he said. “S-1000 is better than what was in those previous House bills. There’s a big difference between targets and mandates. But we’re still concerned about the federal government playing a role in setting building codes. That is traditionally a state and local function. Having the federal government put that on top of another rule concerns us. They’re moving in the right direction by not having an arbitrary number, but we still have some concerns.” He said that “right direction” includes a provision in the bill requiring the DOE to consider the cost effectiveness of any energy mandates. The bill also eliminated an earlier provision that would have established a zero net energy building performance goal by 2030. “There were concerns about putting this zero net energy goal out there without knowing if it is technically feasible and economically,” Brown explained. “There was a recognition that we have to proceed cautiously.” With budget reduction talks taking center stage in Washington, Brown said S-1000’s fate is uncertain. But he noted that a loan guarantee program has a better outlook than a subsidy. “We’re not writing checks,” he said. “It costs less to guarantee loans for $5 million than to give out loans for $5

million. But in this climate everything is difficult.”

Sticks In Massachusetts, the Commonwealth’s Department of Energy Resources seems to be taking a more punitive approach to improving building energy efficiency. In December 2010, the department issued a white paper calling for an “energy asset labeling program,” apparently aimed at stigmatizing inefficient properties and thereby forcing property owners to undertake energy efficiency upgrades. “The comparison the state uses is cars and mileage ratings,” said Patricia Baumer, director of government affairs at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. “A car buyer knows how many gallons of gas a car is going to use. They think if they put an A to F rating on a building, people will know how much energy that building uses. The problem is, it’s not that simple.” The labeling would be based on the sale, lease, financing or periodic commissioning of a building. It is aimed at commercial properties, including multi-family apartment buildings. “There seems to be an unrealistic presumption that owners can simply pass on [to tenants] any costs to do upgrades. The market can bear only so much,” Baumer said. “This is particularly difficult for subsidized properties where the rents are set by HUD.” Access to utility information is another issue. In separately metered buildings, the tenant, not the owner, owns the data. “You would need to get the consent of every tenant in the building to access utility information,” Baumer said. “There are so many variables in tracking that information down, how it is measured.

After public hearings earlier this year, Baumer said the status of the white paper proposals are unclear. “The department has a federal grant to do a pilot program to explore labeling homes in Springfield,” she said. “It would also be transactionally based.” “We think the proposal is ill conceived,” Baumer continued. “We’re watching it very closely.” Energy asset labeling is not the

only stick RHA and the real estate community is watching. Among the dozens of legislative bills pending on Beacon Hill is a proposal that would mandate a new zero net energy building standard for new construction by Jan. 1, 2020. “We are opposed to mandates,” Baumer said. “The industry is moving in this direction on its own. If people can afford to improve energy efficiency, they will. But

the reality in the marketplace is that people can afford to do only so much. Is there a more positive way to incentify people to move in this direction? There seems to be a real disconnect between the realities of the marketplace and labeling. They’re basically talking about stigmatized properties. The timing is bad.” n Linda Goodspeed is a freelance writer.

October 3, 2011 Fall Golf Meadow Creek Golf Club, Dracut

December 1, 2011 President’s Awards Dinner InterContinental Boston

October 13, 2011 National Apartment Association Maintenance Mania® The Lantana, Randolph

March 11, 14, 2012 NAA Capitol Conference Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C.

October 21, 2011 Massachusetts Landlord Tenant Law Embassy Suites, Waltham

June 28 – 30, 2012 NAA Education Conference & Exposition Boston

November 3–5, 2011 National Apartment Association’s Assembly of Delegates InterContinental Buckhead Hotel, Atlanta, GA

September 28, 2012 Rental Housing Association EXPO 2012 Hynes Convention Center, Boston

November 8, 2011 Call Advertising RHA Breakfast Program Topic and location to be announced

For additional information regarding upcoming RHA programs and events, please contact Josh Cooke, education and events coordinator, at 617-399-7860, or via email at, or visit

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Bay State Apartment Owner 3Q 2011  
Bay State Apartment Owner 3Q 2011  

In this issue of Bay State Apartment Owner, get a glimpse of things to come in the cover story, a review of upcoming multi-family housing pr...