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It doesn’t have the pedigree of Harvard Square, or the grittiness of Central, but Cambridge’s Inman Square has no problem maintaining the loyalty of its residents.
“The heart of Inman is where Hampshire and Cambridge streets meet,” says Rebecca Spears-Siegel, broker associate with Compass in Cambridge. “There are many restaurants and small businesses running down Cambridge Street from Hampshire where people go to enjoy everything Inman has to offer.”
But with real estate prices continuing to increase all over Cambridge, Inman’s sales and rental market is growing, too. That is, when there is anything to sell; the intimate neighborhood is in high demand.
The average list price for the past 12 months for a condo in Inman Square is in the $600,000s, while single-family homes sell for an average of $1 million. Most properties are condos and multi-family residences, as well as larger developer opportunities.
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“Being walkable to Central, and the hopes for a Green Line extension to Union Square, have made it an area that home buyers, renters and developers have been watching and [are] eager to invest in,” says Spears-Siegel.
Renters will have a better chance at finding a home in Inman, where a two-bedroom apartment will come in at a minimum of $1,800 per month. Alex Butzbach, 30, moved to the Inman Square area in 2011, settling just over the line in Somerville, between Inman and Union Square. He lives with five other roommates in a rented single-family house, and says the changing face of the neighborhood has been visible in the last five years.
“I don’t think I could afford to live there without a bunch of roommates,” says Butzbach. “The best way I can think to encapsulate the change is that the Johnnie’s Foodmaster is now a Whole Foods. Whole Foods is great, but Johnnie’s had charm and some connection to the area’s working-class roots. There’s another Whole Foods a mile away near Central Square, so it feels like overkill.”
While the neighborhood isn’t teeming with young families with $700 strollers like the South End and Jamaica Plain, Butzbach says there are definitely more young professionals than there used to be.
“It’s pretty evenly split between the original working class families [mostly Portuguese] and groupings of communal young-ish people like myself and my roommates,” says Butzbach, who adds that at $533 per month, his rent has yet to increase since 2011.
But the unique vibe of Inman seems to be what draws in new residents, and maintains the long-timers. Independently owned businesses that have served the neighborhood for decades are often favored by locals, who proudly voice their love for their hood.
“The single best thing about Inman is that it’s lively but not crowded. The T doesn’t go there, so it isn’t mobbed like Central, Harvard, Porter or Davis,” says Butzbach. “But it’s also close enough to those places to be convenient.”