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Apr 10, 2015

Hot Property: Communities the ‘new neighborhoods’

The Boston Herald
Friday, April 10, 2015
by Donna Goodison


From pet-washing stations and green roofs to bocce courts, yoga studios, fire pits and screening rooms, Boston-area apartment and condo complexes are piling on the amenities.

With studios fetching upward of $2,000 per month and $1 million-plus condos, developers are sweetening the deal — so much so that the complexes are becoming the “new neighborhood,” according to Boston Realtor David Bates.

“The new buildings have so many exciting amenities,” Bates said. “A lot of them go out of their way to create community, to create that sense of things you get from a neighborhood.”

Millennium Partners is exporting its La Vie lifestyle program — exclusive activities and social events for condo residents that have included fireside chats with notable guests and culinary and theatrical events — to its new Millennium Tower project in Boston’s Downtown Crossing after success at its nearby Millennium Place.

“It’s so hot they copyrighted the whole thing,” Bates said. “It really goes over well.”

Tenants are looking to connect, whether it’s electronically or in person, said Kay Nilakantan, general manager of Van Ness, Samuels & Associates’ 172-unit luxury apartment complex in the Fenway neighborhood, where residents will start moving in June 1.

“There seems to be more focus and attention on communal spaces where customers can gather together,” Nilakantan said.

But communal spaces these days go far beyond a bland shell of a community room. At the Van Ness, there’s a poker area in an alcove and a TV lounge with a billiards table connected to a separate conference room. There’s also a rooftop lounge with grills and a fifth-floor green terrace.

“Since we’re developing a lot of buildings in one neighborhood, we want each building to have its own personality and be different from each other,” said Peter Sougarides, Samuels’ executive vice president of development.

The Van Ness’ green design and amenities take cues from the Emerald Necklace park system that extends through the Fenway. Thousands of plants will be growing on the “living wall” in the lobby, and the green terrace is almost a half-acre of green space with trees and grass.

Amenities also are geared toward pet owners: a secure “bark park” at Atmark in Cambridge and even an “indoor dog relief area” at 315 on A in Fort Point.

The Merc at Moody & Main, Northland Investment’s Waltham apartment complex that started leasing this week, has a dog-bathing room. “We’re also arranging for other services we can bring in for pet owners,” senior vice president Peter Standish said.

The Merc will include a lounge with a fireplace, a billiards room, a library, a rooftop deck and a club room with a full kitchen that can be used for parties or cooking demonstrations. “One of the important things we like to include is areas where people can gather together and really use that as an extension of their apartment,” Standish said.

Developers also up the ante to rival outside fitness centers, with yoga and spinning rooms, and virtual training. “You can have an instructor who’s offsite, and they get on the screen and take you through your workout,” Bates said. “Some have exercises bikes that connect over the Internet, and you can race your friend in California.”