Boston Condo Throwdown: Bryant Back Bay (post-auction) vs. 45 Province and more...

Posted by Michael DiMella on Wed, Oct 21, 2009

[This is a guest post from Todd Mikelonis. Contact Todd with any questions.]

With all the news recently about the Bryant Back Bay condos, you may have heard that an auction took place - the first for luxury real estate in Boston.  The auction results were interesting in that some are declaring it a failure while some are saying it's a success.  Since the developer is the only one who could say for sure whether it is was a success for them or not, I'm not going to write platitudes on that.  But what I will say is that 10 luxury condo units (they intended to sell 10, no more that day) were sold quickly that day for an average price of $1,375,000 ($675 per sq. ft) which was about 30% off the previous asking prices.  Definitely lower than most luxury properties have been selling for (or should I say not selling for) and probably not a great sign for the rest of the Boston new development inventory sitting out there. 

But how does the Bryant Back Bay stack up against Boston's other luxury condos?  Does it compare favorably to Boston luxury condo buildings like Atelier 505 in the South End, One Charles in the Back Bay, 45 Province downtown, Penny Savings Bank in the South End, or any other?  Let's find out!

Boston Real Estate Throwdown:

It just so happens that I had the opportunity to do a little "comparison shopping" yesterday.  I got out to look at a number of condos in many of Boston’s full service buildings with a buyer client.  We mainly looked at two and three bedroom condos in the $995,000 - $1,685,000 range.  After looking at 12 condos in a day, an overwhelmed buyer will often ask my opinion.  So here it is - my brief summary of thoughts on each unit and my take on how they stack up against one another:

 303 columbus kitchen

 303 columbus living

The Bryant Back Bay - 303 Columbus Ave (we looked at two developer condos)
(those were the post-auction prices they verbally mentioned, not necessarily the public "list prices")
2000-2250+- Sq Ft
($600 - $750 per sq ft)
3 Bed | 3 Bath
1 garage parking

I have kept an eye on this building since they broke ground, and for some reason has been a favorite of mine.  Just off the auction Saturday, I was excited to get in to see what the new pricing would be.  Admittedly, I hadn’t been in the building since going to the model when it was under construction so it was nice to see the finished product.  Some of the things I liked were the direct elevator access to the units, the large master bath, and large living room.  But, if you are on a lower floor and closer to the Clarendon side of the building the master bedroom can be very dark and right up against neighboring buildings - which is reflective of the new pricing.  That said, the condo we saw on the 7th floor is a great value at the $1,500,000 price quoted today.


 1 Charles Bedroom

 1 Charles Living

1 Charles #1202 (individual seller)
1651+- square feet
($907 per sq ft)
2 Bed plus Den | 2.5 Baths
2 garage parking

This condo is actually two one bedroom condos that were combined into one unit.  This particular unit was not my taste as the buyer made a lot of specific modifications to the unit – including a lot of bold paint and wallpaper.  All of this could be easily altered, but based on the price and view (western exposure), it was not to my buyer client's taste either.  It also felt chopped up and more of a collection of rooms lacking flow.


 9 Charles dining room

 9 Charles living area

1 Charles #9H (individual seller)
1571+- Sq Ft
($889 per sq ft)
2 Bed | 2 Bath
1 garage parking

This unit is in the North Tower, which tends to be a bit more private than the South Tower at One Charles.  This condo was less customized than some we had seen in the building and was more suitable my client's taste.  The views of the Park Plaza and Back Bay were nice and the condo was high enough up to get a lot of light for any exposure.  In my opinion it is a well priced condo compared to others on the market in the building, but nothing jumped out about it.


 1 Charles exterior

 1 Charles 906 kitchen

1 Charles #906 (individual seller)
1554+- sq ft
($1,084 per sq ft)
2 Bed | 2 Bath
2 garage parking

The price difference on this one is the exposure, being a corner unit, and the huge balcony.  The balcony really makes this condo.  The living area is all windows with southern and eastern exposure…and it is reflected in the price.  By far, this is the best of the three we had seen in the building for the day, and that's why it is asking a premium price 10% higher than the other two condos we looked in the building.


 45 province exterior

 45 province living

45 Province - Downtown (we looked at three developer condos)
1300-1600+-  t
($846 - $906 per sq ft)
2 Bed | 2 Baths
1 garage parking

I really like the concept and location of 45 Province.  The building offered the BEST city views for the same if not lower price than some of the others we saw, but the location is more “Downtown” and isolated from the core neighborhoods.  I am excited to see Downtown Crossing go through a transformation, which will greatly benefit 45 Province down the road, but its not quite there yet.  I also really liked that the building offers about 120 different floor plans out of 138 units!  I think this is a great idea for a large building and will help when owners sell in the future to be offering unique products.  From the spa services offered by Exhale to the overall vibrant and chic feel of the building, there was a different vibe than the Back Bay buildings.  I don’t think the location will work for my buyer -  location will be the largest objection for most buyers but there is a lot of potential because the condos are priced competitively to get people to buy into the neighborhood and building.


505 Tremont living

505 Tremont bedroom

South End Atelier 505 - 505 Tremont Street #202
(was reduced to $1,499,000 just after our showing)
1692+- sq ft
($936 per sq ft)
2 Bed plus Den | 2.5 baths
1 garage parking

In my opinion this building is THE building in the South End.  Since opening in 2003, I have been a fan of this building and how it has helped transform this block of the South End.  The unit is huge.  Actually, it felt like it was the largest of what we saw today, but was about 400-500 square feet smaller.  We were a little nervous going into see this condo as it is on the 2nd floor and we thought it may have been dark.  To our surprise the ceilings were high and it offered large windows.  The unit faces Warren Ave which is both quiet and is a wide street at that point for the South End, so it allows for a lot of light given the floor height. 


7 warren kitchen

7 warren kitchen 2

D4 South End - 7 Warren Ave #1 (individual seller)
1660+- square feet
($774 per sq ft)
3 Bed | 2 Baths
1 garage parking

This large three bedroom condo with private entrance had probably the most “brownstone” feel of the selection.  The building offers a lot of character as well as the unit.  This particular unit is just above street level so it offered less light and did not have any views to speak of.  I liked the idea of a private entrance, and the space was great for the price compared to the condo at Atelier.  I wasn’t a fan of the security/concierge setup in the lobby and a=some of the finishes in the condo.



 30 union park kitchen

 30 union living

Penny Savings Bank - 30 Union Park St #301 (individual seller)
1265+- square feet
($789 per sq ft)
2 bedrooms | 2 baths
2 garage parking
(for an additional $100,000)

I had followed the press on this building since 2007 but only recently had the opportunity to get into the building.  I really LOVE the location and exterior feel of the building.  This unit is a great value in my opinion as the sellers really customized this condo which offers a lot of “toys” for any potential buyer.  Three things buyers want – Light, parking, and outdoor space.  This condo has it, and is on the lower end of what we saw today.


 183 Mass ave kitch

 183 mass living

The Carillon - 183-185 Massachusetts Ave #803 (individual seller)
1220+- sq ft
($815 per sq ft)
2 Bed | 2 Bath
1 garage parking

Large spacious two bedroom condo location in a quite boutique Back Bay building on Massachusetts Ave.  The Carillon is a 32 unit building located on Massachusetts Ave close to the intersection of Boylston Street.  One of the partners at Charlesgate has often been quotes as saying “Mass Ave is it’s own market” and I think this holds true to this building/condo.  The interior of the condo felt a bit dark, the outdoor space with the unit was very minimal and not functional, and some of the finishes were not the quality of the other building we had seen.  BUT – this is the least expensive condo we saw today so I must keep that in mind.  The up side is that there could be some minor cosmetic changes that could really brighten up and add value to this condo.  One red flag to me was the high condo fee of $920 in a building which there was no concierge or doorman.  The listing agent did not have much of an explanation for the high condo fee – I will need to investigate further if our client wants to further pursue this condo!


And the winner is......

The winner is…505 Tremont #202 – Atelier.  I really am a huge fan of this condo and building overall.  The location, amenities, high ceilings, and layout of this condo stand out among the various condos we looked at today.


If you have an questions about these Boston condos or another other luxury real estate, I'd be happy to answer them - just contact me!



Tags: Boston condos, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, luxury