With Boston rents skyrocketing to a $2,000 average, and former standbys Cambridge and Somerville not far behind, an exodus for up-and-coming hotbeds like East Boston or Watertown is in the works. But are you overlooking the most attractive metro alternative of moment?
ICYMI: It’s not a bastion of hipsterdom yet, but Quincy is sounding pretty cool.
“There are over 4000 new residential units within the city at some stage of development,” says Sean Kenealy of Key Realty. “There are buildings that are 98% occupied with young working people. There are new restaurants opening to cater to that demographic.”
James Madden is an MIT grad who moved back to Quincy from East Cambridge last year. Though he lived in Quincy’s Wollaston neighborhood in his early twenties, he eventually left for Somerville and Cambridge. But in the interest of saving money, Madden and his wife came back to the City of Presidents.
“On a per square foot basis, the rent is 50 percent cheaper. In real numbers, it's $325 per month,” says Madden, 32, who works in non-profit housing.
The only downside? The time spent commuting to and from Quincy every day on the MBTA is pretty painful.
“Honestly though, I'm not sure the time lost on my commute every day is worth that $325,” says Madden. “The Braintree branch of red line is abysmal.”
And while the city of Quincy hasn’t quite reached the level of popularity as Cambridge or Somerville, Madden says it’s still a good bet for anyone trying to save some dough.
“I wouldn’t call it cool yet, but it’s affordable and good for families,” says Madden.
Compared to the Quincy he lived in almost a decade ago, Madden says there are certainly some visible changes in the community. Though the Red Line seems to be spiraling downward, the retail scene is much more vibrant, particularly with the growth of Chinese businesses.
“And it’s much easier to get craft beer,” he adds.
The onslaught of former Bostonians into Quincy is like catnip to residential and retail developers.
“Quincy for the first time is positioning itself to capture the demand coming from the Boston area populace looking for first-class housing at achievable rents,” says Kyle Warwick, Managing Partner at Gate Residential, which is in the process of building West of Chestnut, a two-building, 169-unit luxury development with high-end amenities like a fitness center and dog washing stations. The Quincy Center development expects to be open by summer of 2016 and will also include 12,500-square-feet of retail space, just steps from the Red Line.
Retail space is also in the plans for Galvcon Development, whose Cliveden Place building will bring a new mixed-use commercial and residential condo development to Hancock Street, a space once occupied by Woolworth’s. Demolition of the existing structures are expected to begin this month.
And then there’s LBC Boston’s 2014 purchase of $23 million worth of property that they’re hoping to turn into a seven floor, 100-plus room hotel, with a restaurant and lounge on the first floor, as well as office and retail space.
High-end residences like these are banking on the popularity of stylish restaurants like The Townshendand Alba continuing to open in the area. And with the news that Barbara Lynch will open a new Italian restaurant in Quincy with her niece, even people who normally wouldn’t consider stepping foot outside of Boston proper are willing to make the trip.
Real estate developers and restaurateurs aren’t the only ones exited about the influx of young professionals to Quincy. For area businesses, the new residents are a gateway to higher profits. Kenealy says retail space is being snatched up before it even hits the market.
“We’re leasing out space before it’s even available,” says Kenealy. “The space is leased before the building is up. The Boston market is getting really expensive, and they come to Quincy and we’re renting slightly cheaper. There’s a demand for all of it.”
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L.I.F.E. Fitness, a personal training and fitness gym on Parking Way, says they've experienced a bump in clients from the area’s new residents, who are looking for the same amenities they found in Boston proper.
Marco Ivester, a trainer at L.I.F.E. Fitness, has noticed a growing population of young professionals coming to the gym.
“We definitely have an influx,” says Marco, who is also a recent Quincy transplant. “The rent is cheaper, and you can get more space out here. And there are a lot of nice eateries.”
And with so much being invested in Quincy’s future, lifelong residents say things can only get better.
“Quincy is just getting better and better,” says the city’s Mayor, Tom Koch. “I have lived here my whole life; I love this city and am committed to bringing each section of Quincy up to its full potential. We welcome young professionals and businesses who want to be part of our exciting future.”