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Newbury Street parking lot that used to have that amazing mural next to it sold for $40 million

WBZ reports a Chicago company has laid out $40 million for the parking lot on Newbury Street at Dartmouth Street that once had an amazing mural as a neighbor. No word on the new owner's plans, but WBZ notes the company specializes in retail development - and one might assume a company doesn't just sign over $40 million to keep parking cars.

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"and one might assume a company doesn't just sign over $40 million to keep parking cars"

If there are 100 spaces in said garage that $40m will be paid for in about 3 years. Parking garages make more per sq. ft than apartments do with about 90% less overhead, oversight, building code, etc. The thing is the city doesn't just zone for them willy-nilly, and its really hard to buy a plot of land and put one up, so might not change from a parking garage (since the area starves for parking anyhow) but the rates will probably go up!

Voting closed 9

You're absolutely right - I don't know anything about running parking lots.

Yes, I do realize in a location like that, they're basically a money-printing machine. But developers and retail investment firms don't buy parking lots to keep them as parking lots - have you taken a look at the Seaport recently?

As for zoning issues, hah, what are those? The BPDA spares no expense in working with developers who want to disregard a lot's zoning and build something. And even if, as with this parcel, the land is too small for the BPDA to formally just eliminate the lot's zoning altogether by writing a "planned development area" agreement, the ZBA, which basically reviews smaller projects after the BPDA, rarely encounters a variance it doesn't like.

Yeah, this particular spot is tricky because it's the Back Bay, just full of people with the money to hire expensive attorneys to oppose something and all that, but even there, it's hardly an impossible dream to want to replace a parking lot with, oh, a four- or five-story retail thingee, especially if you agree to clad it in brick.

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It's in the historic district with much stricter regulations. As you note, probably a 4 story retail condo thingy. Think kind of like what is going up next to sonsie but hopefully not as ugly. That was a knock down drag out fight over about 2-3 years. Hopefully these guys will want something that fits a little more with the surrounding architecture.

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Have you actually seen the lot we are talking about here?

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That lot has 25 maybe 35 spaces tops.

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There are 66 parking spaces in that lot (via Google Maps). They valet park cars three-deep on one side and two-deep on the other.

In any case, let's assume that each space generates $50 per day (a combination of a $42 day rate and some transient parking at $20/hr, but that not all 66 spaces are constantly occupied during the day).

66*50 = $3300, so the lot can generate $3300 per day.

There are 365 days in a year. If we assume that every day of the year generates the same revenue (which may be fair, given that Newbury Street is as busy on the weekend as weekdays, although obviously some days, like Christmas and Thanksgiving, that's probably not the case), the lot would generate about $1.2 million per year.

That would nominally give a payback of about 33 years (this assumes that parking rates will rise at approximately the same rate as the money could be otherwise invested at).

That's H-3-65 zoning (there's no zoning for parking lot, although it currently has an overlay which basically says "it's okay as a parking lot") which allows up to 65 feet of height, and given that the nearby buildings behind it and diagonally across the street have seven stories, I would assume it may be reasonable to get a variance to build six units of housing above a level of retail, which would itself probably be above a level of underground parking. The lot is about 14,000 square feet, about half the size of the Vendome condos behind it, which has 110 residential units and several commercial ones. (The reason the corner of the Vendome looks modern while the rest of the building is original is, of course, because of the Vendome fire and building collapse which killed 9 BFD firefighters.)

So, can they build 50 condos there? Probably. Will each fetch $2 million? In that neighborhood, I don't see why not. Will that generate a bit more revenue than, say, a parking lot? Do the math.

Voting closed 8

Not on the north side of Newbury. 6 units per floor after allowing for utilities and common space 3-4 floors of housing over commercial you get 20 to 25 units. Covers the acquisition cost plus a bit. 2 floors of Commercial space is 25000 sf or maybe a few million a year in rent to cover the construction nut.

Sounds like a mediocre to bad investment without the variance so maybe they'll go all Chiofaro and claim they have to go higher or leave it as a parking lot.

Voting closed 8

That place should have been developed 25 years ago - at least.

Probably get a restaurant and a couple of retail stores out of it plus a dozen units of housing. Every bit helps.

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They'll want a boutique hotel and scads of super-luxury condos, plus parking, over the retail. And a rooftop pool, yoga room, and party area, possibly a club for millennials. The design will be mostly glass, as lackluster as anything (and everything) built in the past 40 years here. Even though the developers are from Chicago.

The tower will exceed the zoning height limit by about a zillion feet, but they'll claim it's the only way to be profitable and that it must be that high to preserve Newbury Street's vitality. And because construction jobs!! The Back Bay Association will throw screaming fits and flaming daggers at anyone who mentions zoning or preserving Newbury's historic character.

The developers will fight/negotiate with NABB and woo the BPDA until it's only about half a zillion feet over the height limit and the design is even worse. By then everyone is exhausted because all the meetings were scheduled at times like Christmas Eve and the SuperBowl. The Zoning Board will approve it because why be so picky picky picky?

Once it's built, we'll get a chain restaurant for tourists and maybe another sneaker store on the ground floors, while the condos will mainly sell for cash to overseas investors who will never set foot in them. Robert Campbell will write an intriguing Globe critique that will make you go back and take a harder look, but you still won't be able to figure out what he meant.

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Like his recent column on One Dalton and its intriguing use of triangles?

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What was he smoking?

I keep wishing that building would disappear, the way he says it does.

Voting closed 8

Money talks mural artists walk.

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Site used to be the headquarters building for Bostons Union of Wheelman or something like that. The equivalent of today's Boston Cyclists Union.

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