I read with great interest Scott Van Voorhis’ article, “Don’t Blame Labor for Boston’s High Building Costs,” in the Aug. 15 edition of Banker & Tradesman. As the article shined a bright light on the soaring housing costs in and around Boston, I wanted to offer a less expensive but equally vibrant choice: North Central Massachusetts, where the average cost of a home was below $400,000 for all but two of the region’s municipalities in 2019. Given that the average price of a home in Boston sits at nearly $700,000, and with North Central Massachusetts’ access to main highways, public transportation and more affordable housing, it’s certainly a viable option within a 40-mile radius of downtown Boston.
In fact, a group of local business and community leaders, dignitaries and other key regional stakeholders spent most of the past year working to understand what makes our region tick. The result is One North Central, a new regional economic development plan to set a path forward for growth and opportunities. We realized a key factor in the North Central Massachusetts real estate market is its affordability when compared to Greater Boston. The lower cost of both owner and renter housing can enable the purchase of homes that would be out of reach in many other parts of the state. Prices of homes have remained affordable for most households in the region, with more than 3,000 transactions recorded each year between 2016 to 2019, a level previously reached only during the housing boom of 2004 and 2005.
The region also offers numerous historic downtowns and town centers and a wide spectrum of opportunities because of the diversity of the community types. One can take a commuter rail to a walkable downtown, open a small business in an old mill, build furniture in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, learn to design a video game in a tech lab or visit a farm or orchard for fresh produce.
I invite your readers to visit North Central Massachusetts this coming fall to discover what we have to offer.
— Roy M. Nascimento is president and CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce