35 Kingston Street #1/B: 4186 SqFt Blank Canvas of Mixed-Use Space in Downtown Crossing

New to the real estate sales market, 35 Kingston Street offers a creative buyer a rare opportunity to acquire a substantial amount of square feet in a premier location, Downtown Boston. Currently being used as two separate commercial spaces, this 4186 sq ft raw mixed-use space can be combined to create an incredible live/work area spread over two levels.

The location at 35 Kingston Street is convenient to public transportation such as the orange and red lines, commuter rail and AmTrack, and it is minutes to the main highways (I-90 Mass Pike and I-93) and an express lane to the airport. In addition, approximately $2.4 billion has been privately invested into the downtown area of Boston over the past 10 years creating a vibrant neighborhood filled with restaurants, college facilities and lecture halls, new residential high rise condos, theatre restorations, luxury hotels, shops, etc. With more projects from commercial to residential planned, valuing approximately $800 million, and a committed community of property owners (Downtown Boston Business Improvement District) dedicated to transforming the Downtown Crossing area of Boston area into a clean and lively neighborhood, $1million for 4186 sq ft at 35 Kingston Street is a well-priced investment with incredible potential.

35 Kingston Street #1:B exteriorThe lower level offers 2174 sq ft, if a buyer would want to keep this as commercial, this can be subdivided to maximize commercial potential. The first floor display level offers 2012 sq ft, 14ft ceilings, exposed brick, aged wood floors, and incredible possibilities for either a residential condo or large open commercial space. As it currently exists, 35 Kingston 1/B is not realizing its full potential, but for a creative buyer it offers endless options. Large spaces, such as 35 Kingston Street offers, have made incredible art galleries and studios, performance spaces, or a truly one of a kind home. The master deed has already been amended to allow converting the spaces from commercial to residential.

This project is not for the faint of heart, it will take a buyer with passion and creativity to see how this space can be maximized. But once completed, the new owner will have over 4000 sq ft in the most dynamic of Boston’s up and coming neighborhoods.

Exclusively listed by the Matthew and Alisa Group, contact us to schedule a private showing.

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ROI: 99 Projects and a Bath Ain’t One – REMIX

Home Improvement ProjectsLast year I wrote about what projects brought the best return on investment according to the annual Cost vs Value Report. This year the report is out again but showed a couple of differences.

MidRange Projects:

Top 5 Best ROI Projects in Boston

1- Minor Kitchen Remodel 88.5% ROI

2- Deck Addition (wood) 86% ROI

3- Enty Door Replacement (steel) 80.9% ROI

4- [tie] Attic Bedroom Remodel and Siding Replacement (vinyl) 78.1% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 77.5% ROI

Top 5 ROI Projects National Average

1- Entry Door Replacement (steel) 85.6% ROI

2- Deck Addition (wood) 77.3% ROI

3- Garage Door Replacement 75.7% ROI

4-Minor Kitchen Remodel 75.4% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 73.3% ROI

Upscale Projects:

Top 5 ROI Projects in Boston

1-Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) 86.4% ROI

2- Garage Door Replacement 77.8% ROI

3-Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl) 77.6% ROI

4-Window Replacement (vinyl) 76.4% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 74.7% ROI

Top 5 ROI Projects National Average

1-Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) 79.3% ROI

2- Garage Door Replacement 75.2% ROI

3-Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl) 71.8% ROI

4-Window Replacement (vinyl) 71.2% ROI

5- Window Replacement (wood) 68.4% ROI

As you can see, the more you spend does not mean the more you get back. Before beginning any home improvement project it is important to consider the purpose for the project. Yielding a high return on investment is good to consider, but if you have no intention to sell anytime soon, there is no reason not to make a house your home. Once you have decided to pursue a project make sure to use the right contractor, no matter the project, the right contractor will save money in the long run.

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Home Improvement Projects Big or Small Need the Right Contractor

Like many people, I love watching home improvement shows on HGTV. The designers and contractors are fun, happy, and always satisfy their client. They make it look easy and affordable to tackle any home improvement project. The trouble comes when the next show is a home improvement “gone wrong,” showing how doing a simple project wrong can cost much more than never doing the work to begin with. But some home improvements cannot be held off for long and ultimately need to be done.

Apart from auditioning to be on an HGTV show, what do you need to do to make a renovation your home? You can go to Home Depot or Lowe’s and see what it would take to do it yourself. If DIY is not an option, contact a contractor. The usual ways to find a contractor are to ask friends or colleagues and search Yelp or Angie’s List. Not many people think to ask their Realtor. Even if it’s been years since you’ve bought your home, your Realtor has a select database of all kinds of contractors they and others in their company have used and your Realtor would be happy to help you find someone.

Once you have a name, don’t just hire them, interview them. In fact, it would be better to have more than one name.

A few key factors to look for in your contractor:

  • Make sure they are licensed, bonded, and certified. If your home was built before 1978, a contractor has to RRP (repair, renovate, and paint) certified. Since homes before 1978 may have used lead paint, certified contractors will know the new regulations and guidelines to make home improvements safely.
  • How long can you live with a blue bathroom?Trust your contractor. This is why I recommend interviewing a few contractors. When I say, “interview,” I don’t mean pick the one with the lowest quote. They may say the home improvement will cost X and be done by Y, but there may be delays and obstacles, making the price XXX and done by “who knows when.” Ask about other similar projects they have done, how long it took, etc. It’s crucial to feel comfortable and trust your contractor. This way if something does come up, you will listen to them even if it’s not something you want to hear.
  • Ask about subcontractors they use and research them. Certain home improvement projects will require your primary contractor to use subcontractors (plumbers, electrician, etc.). Like your Realtor, a contractor has spent years to develop a trusted list of vendors that work in every aspect they may need.

Keep in mind if this project is for your enjoyment or resale value. If your home improvement project is for resale proposes, consult at Realtor to find out how much value it will actually add to your listing price. Also read what projects get the best ROI before starting a home improvement project.

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Is a Fixer-Upper For You?

Many people buying a home for the first time believe they will know what home to buy because they will fall in love. This is somewhat true, but as the saying goes “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” In competitive real estate markets, love will take some work and the question you have to ask yourself is how much love (and work) are you comfortable putting in?

Every homebuyer needs to be flexible in certain areas of their criteria. In an ideal world, a buyer finds the perfect home in the area they want and the house is move-in ready (or a turn-key property in realtor speak).

A fixer-upper may be an option to consider

If location is the most important factor in your search and nothing is available in your price range, you might want expand your price range. I’m not only advocating looking at higher priced properties, but also those at a lower price point, which will require some level of renovation. If you find listings matching all of your other criteria but are rough around the edges, take a look and keep an open mind to the possibilities. In competitive real estate markets, the properties with more than the average days on market tend to be fixer-uppers. One of the biggest positives of buying a fixer-upper, is your home can reflect your tastes instead of the seller’s. Another positive is you have a better opportunity to negotiate since many buyers do not want to put in the time, money, or effort for renovations. Less competition from other buyers means more leverage when it comes time to negotiate. Once you have purchased the property and made improvements, you will see a much quicker appreciation in your asset’s value. The improvements do not have to be top-of -the-line renovations to see a quick appreciation, many simpler projects can bring a strong return on your investment.

Keep in mind renovations are not for everyone. Unless you plan to do a renovation yourself, you can never guarantee how long the work will actually take. Projects can be delayed for all kinds of reasons but the worst case scenario comes from the fact not everything can found during inspection and what can start as a simple project can turn into something major. A dream home can turn into a money pit, but a looked over fixer-upper, can be the home you never knew you always wanted.

Buying a home is an emotional process. Like in dating, don’t be discouraged by thinking all the good ones are taken. Sometimes taking a second look on an option that doesn’t seem perfect might become better than what you thought you wanted.

If you are interested in searching property for sale, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group.

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Restoration vs Development in South Boston

After viewing the unique property at 928 East Broadway in South Boston recently, I started thinking about the line separating historical preservation and new development. The client who was interested in the property is an investor whose intent was to tear down the existing structures and build a new condo development on the land. It is not as though the developer could not appreciate the charm and significance of the Second Empire mansion built in 1867, but the land would be worth more to him with a new building than with the existing structure. He’s not alone as most of those who have shown interest in the property have had similar plans.

South Boston mansion at 928 E BroadwayAs a single-family home of over 6066 square feet the mansion with a mansard roof offers a significant amount of space for any neighborhood in Boston’s downtown neighborhoods. The current price of 2.3 million dollars looks good considering any other property in Boston’s central neighborhoods with over 6000 square feet is asking for over 4 million dollars. But once you factor in an adjustment for location (the competing properties are all in Back Bay or Beacon Hill) and the need for a total renovation the perceived savings disappear. Consider a middle of the road 250 dollar per square foot renovation and you are looking at a 1.5 million dollar restoration project.

The cost concerns are one reason most potential buyers have been looking at the property for development, but the other reason is the half acre of land located on East Broadway a block from the beach and Pleasure Bay. Only one property on the market in Boston’s central neighborhoods offers as much land and it is a parcel in New Market Square zoned for commercial use.

“Given the investment potential of a half acre corner lot a block from the Atlantic Ocean, why has it not sold?”

Good question.

Part of the answer has to do with two parcels existing on one deed, each with encumbrances on each other, but the biggest potential hurdle may be resistance to leveling an historic residence. The property is not listed on the National Registrar of Historic Places or any other list of protected property, but it is an historic property.

928 East Broadway was built in 1867 for James Collins, a wholesale liquor distributor and a real estate investor who developed much of the City Point area of South Boston during the late 1860’s to late 1880‘s. The remaining large scale frame mansard residences in Boston include the Manning/Johnson House at 69 Thomas Park and 928 East Broadway. The home features an unusually deep set-back, in part because Colins owned the entire block now bordered by East Broadway to the South, Farragut Road to the East, East 3rd Street to the North, and P Street to the East. Before Day Boulevard was constructed, the plot of land owned by Collins was oceanfront property.

Collins built brick homes at 936-942 East Broadway for his children

The Queen Anne brick row houses Collins built for his children

In 1884, Collins hired architect Patrick W Ford to build the Queen Anne brick row houses located adjacent to his residence at. Collins built these homes for his children and in 1890 he built the more utilitarian row houses at 823-833 East Third Street for his employees.

The recent history of 928 East Broadway is more humble as it served as a boarding house as recently as 2006.

I assume, as have most of the potential investors, proposals to tear down the existing building will be met with objections from abutters and the neighborhood association.

I can see the argument for historical preservation and love Boston for its sense of history, especially when it comes to its wide-ranging examples of different architectural styles. The problem is when those with no financial stake have the ability to restrict progress and affect the finances of a landowner. It is a fine line, one that must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and in better ways than I have seen recently.

Personally, I would love to see the mansion at 928 East Broadway restored to the elegant single-family home it once was. But without the checkbook to see it through, does what I want matter?

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I would like to know what you think about 928 East Broadway and regarding restoration vs development in general.

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Is the Benjamin Mansion Boston’s Finest Restoration?

It is not often I walk through a home and see so many correct choices made on a development project.

I recently had the honor of previewing the single-family home for sale at 74 Beacon Street for an international buyer client I have been working with. The townhouse was originally built in 1828 by architect Asher Benjamin, who was best known for the Old West Church and the Charles Street Meeting House. Some say the wealthy buyers of these Asher Benjamin mansions chose the Beacon Street location because they viewed the newly formed “flat of Beacon Hill” as a superior location to the steep slope of Mt. Vernon Street. Although, in reality, these mansions were located near the city dump at the bottom of Beacon Street when built. Not until Back Bay was filled in did the area start to transform into the prime real estate we consider it today.

The Benjamin Mansion at 74 Beacon Street

One of the developers involved in the restoration grew up in a townhouse in London and her knowledge was an asset as the development team undertook a three-year gut-renovation project. The result was a restoration blending old-world detail and modern amenities. Some of those amenities include a heated rooftop endless infinity lap pool, deeded parking and a Brimmer Street garage space, an elevator, two roof decks, a patio, smart home technology, and a laundry room GQ found worthy of a Tom Brady photo shoot.

The price does reflect the quality at $1769 a square foot which is a price usually reserved for the first block of Comm Ave, Louisburg Square, and high-end buildings such as the Mandarin Oriental or the Carlton House.

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ROI: 99 Projects and a Bath Ain’t One

What Projects Bring the Best Return on Investment

When starting to do any renovations or improvements on a property the most important factor to consider is who or what the work is for. If this a property that can be called home for generations, then go personal, build it to fit your style, something that you want and will want for years. If the work is needed but in a property that you will out grow within several years, consider a practical approach. The more personal style shown in a project, most likely the less of a return on investment (or “ROI”) you will get at resale.

The cost vs value report 2011-2012 surveyed 35 remodeling projects over 80 cities that range from mid-range to upscale projects. According to this survey, replacement projects had the better return versus remodeling projects and mid-range projects recouped their costs more than upscale.

The top 5 projects that showed the best return at resale. Remember this is the national average and results may vary depending on location.

  1. Fiber-cement siding. This immediately improves curb appeal and 78% of the cost is recouped for a mid-range replacement.
  2. Entry door replacement. Again improves curb appeal and 72.8% of the cost is recouped for a mid-range replacement.
  3. Attic bedroom. This is a bigger project that adds an extra bedroom and bathroom and stays within the home’s original footprint. 72.5% of the cost is recouped. On average this project can cost $50,000 and has a value of $36,000 at resale.
  4. Minor kitchen remodel. This is a project that doesn’t have to cost very much if you think of it as a facelift. Replacing cabinets, hardware, countertops, and old appliances with energy efficient models can recoup 72.1% of the cost.
  5. Garage door replacement. 72.1% of the cost is recouped but this is a project that can vary in price depending on the home and the materials that have to be used. For a detached garage, an uninsulated door is fine. But if the garage is part of the house or rooms exist above the garage, spending more for an insulated door is necessary. Either way this project again immediately improves curb appeal.

The projects with the least return on investment are additions such as a sunroom or master suite. Remodeling a home office or bathrooms are also least likely to see a return on the dollars you put into the project, the reason being more people would want an extra bedroom rather than a home office and bathroom projects rank so low due to the expense. Taking a smaller bathroom and turning it into a spa also takes square footage away from other areas of the home and changes the original footprint of the home.

Renovations That Showcase Personality May Hurt ResaleResale is just one factor to consider when doing home improvement projects. If this is a home you have no intention of selling, making it what you want is more important, within reason. If your home is on top of your neighbors, you may want to tone down how much personality you show on the exterior of your home because it may make it stand out (and not in a good way).

Visit the Cost vs Value Report to see the full data and learn more about cost vs value. On the site, you can compare the data nationally, regionally, and by city.

To find your next project or your next home, contact the Realtors of Matthew and Alisa Group Real Estate.

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