The Mira condo development on Border Street in East Boston will include high-end touches such as 11 private roof decks with skyline views. Image courtesy of Gansett Ventures

East Boston is a neighborhood on the shortlists of condominium shoppers looking for new construction with luxury perks and arresting skyline views. 

Massive apartment complexes built on the once-industrial waterfront in recent years started to attract attention from newcomers who previously knew little about the working-class neighborhood other than its tightly-packed triple-deckers and Logan Airport flight paths. 

“It’s people who want a view and want to be on the waterfront, so in some respects it’s a Seaport District buyer at a discount,” said Caleb Manchester, CEO of Boston-based Gansett Ventures, which is developing a 64-unit condo complex called Mira at 301 Border St. 

From January through the end of May, buyers closed on 248 condos in East Boston at a median prices of $641,450 – both historic records for the neighborhood in the first five months of a calendar year – according to data compiled by The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman. 

Developer Lendlease’s Slip 45 condos, part of the Clippership Wharf development, set new high-water marks in 2020 with average prices topping $1 million gross and $1,000 per square foot, according to a report by Boston-based brokerage The Collaborative Cos. 

But Slip 45’s top-of-the-market status is unlikely to last for long. In July, The Davis Cos. of Boston completes its first venture in East Boston, The Mark, a 107-unit condo development where some units are listed for up to $2 million.  

More than 85 percent of the units are under agreement, and brokerage sources say units have been selling for well above $1,000 per square foot. Davis Cos. declined to discuss pricing, but closings are expected to begin in July. 

“East Boston is the next big thing. It attracts that young buyer who can’t afford the Seaport, but still wants that city view and level of luxury,” said Joshua Stephens, a vice president at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services/Warren Residential in Boston. 

The Mark, a new luxury development scheduled to open this summer at 99 Sumner St., is expected to set new records for condo prices in the expanding East Boston market. Photo courtesy of The Davis Cos.

Abandoned Parcels Reborn as Housing 

The 2.5-acre site at 99 Sumner St., the former Hodges Boiler factory, had been eyed for development for nearly two decades. Boston developer Denormandie Co. originally sought to build condos, but the project stalled during the global recession. The Davis Cos. acquired the property for $5 million in 2015. 

By then, Massport had brought large-scale multifamily development to the nearby waterfront by leasing its unused pier parcels to developers such as Roseland Property Co., which completed the first phase of its Portside apartment complex in 2014 with initial rents averaging $2,400 a month. 

Other developers began to buy into the neighborhood’s transformation story. Portland, Oregon-based Gerding Edlen, now known as The Green Cities Co., broke ground on its 16-story Eddy apartment tower in 2014, replacing industrial buildings with luxury apartments and a dramatic pool overlooking Boston Harbor. And Trinity Financial completed its 200-unit Boston East apartment complex at 126 Border St. in 2018. 

After receiving approval for some updates to the previous development plan, The Davis Cos. broke ground on The Mark in mid-2019. 

“We knew we could build a really high-quality waterfront product at significant discounts to what was being built in the Seaport,” Davis Cos. Co-President Stephen Davis said, citing site acquisition and mid-rise construction costs for the $60 million project. 

“It’s a reflection of the transit access, and it’s a fabulous place to live. People are responding to that,” Davis said. 

Discounts with Downtown Views 

Smaller developers are responding as well, lured by East Boston’s remaining industrial properties that present compelling opportunities for replacement as condos and apartments. 

Brookline-based City Realty assembled five parcels occupied by parking and auto repair shops several years ago and obtained approval for a 64-unit condo project at 301 Border St. Manchester’s Gansett Ventures bought an ownership share of the project following approvals. 

Steve Adams

Branded as Mira, the project is scheduled for completion in December, and recently opened a sales office at 167 Maverick St. 

Located a half-mile from the MBTA’s Maverick station and its 2-minute commute to downtown, the 6-story building will include 11 private roof decks to take advantage of the acclaimed skyline views. Prices will reflect the non-waterfront location, with discounts from properties such as The Mark, but still expected to top the $900-per-square-foot mark, Manchester said. 

“It shows that East Boston is a legitimate Boston neighborhood in every respect: on transit, great restaurants and the views of the city are amazing,” he said. 

High-Water Marks for Eastie Condos

by Steve Adams time to read: 3 min