Is Allston ready for luxury housing?

For many people, Allston brings to mind a sea of college students, since it’s long been the home of choice for generations of Boston University students. But that reputation may be slowly changing, with new luxury apartments going in. The new Continuum building, located at 199 North Harvard St., is accepting applications now, with about half of the units scheduled to open in August, and the remaining half in November.


“It’s really the same building you would find in downtown Boston, but at a slightly more advantaged pricing point,” says Leslie Cohen, executive vice president of development and a principal at Samuels & Associates, which owns the building. She’s referring to the “first class” amenities available there, which includes a 24 hour concierge, fitness center, game room, a cyber lounge, a common kitchen area that can be reserved for parties and a roof deck. There’s also planned retail space, as fits a mixed use building like this.


As to who will go in the retail space, Cohen says they haven’t solidified plans yet, but “we have one smaller anchor space, so we’re in discussions with a number of grocers, and then we’re looking for a number of locally grown restaurants, people who have one or two restaurants in the area who are looking to expand, and then the rest will fill in with services that are needed in this part of Allston.”


And the all important question that has to be answered, after last winter’s snowstorms to end all snowstorms? “There’s a parking garage below the building,” confirms Cohen. “There’s about 200 spaces of parking. In addition with this project, we’re actually creating two new roadways, so there’s on-street parking as well.”


Those spaces will be standard short-term, two hour parking not reserved for the residents, so anyone interested in either visiting the adjacent Smith Field or the upcoming restaurants can grab a spot.

It’s all a big change from what has long been expected from the area, but Cohen thinks it’s a natural progression. “Allston is very much a changing community. I think the demographics are changing there. We’ve seen in lots of different neighborhoods that creating a dense central space and really putting feet on the street more hours of the day creates a vibrancy, so I think this is the beginning of what’s coming in Allston.”

As to the question of what the current tenants think of all this, Cohen says it’s been an ongoing conversation. “This is a community that would like to see things happen with the real estate in the area and see it be productive and see it be an amenity for the neighborhood. When we started the process, we immediately jumped into neighborhood conversations and have had an ongoing dialogue with the neighborhood throughout the design and the construction process. We’re getting lots of good feedback.”

The building is about 60 percent studios and one bedrooms, and forty percent two bedrooms and three bedrooms. The studios start at $2500 a month, while the one bedrooms start in the low $3000s. And for the chefs of the world, pretty much every kitchen has an island. “We’re finding that the kitchen island often serves not only as dinner and breakfast table, but becomes the office and desk, and the place where everybody congregates,” explains Cohen.

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