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Is $2 million too much for suburban condo?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis February 3, 2014 10:01 AM

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Developer Jordan Warshaw is betting $35 million that the suburbs are also going to want downtown-Boston-style luxury condos.

The $35 million is the development cost of his 30-unit Belclare Wellesley condo project, which is replacing an empty hole that for years marred Wellesley Square after the leveling of the old Wellesley Inn.

The average price for the 25-market rate units is just under $2 million, with prices overall ranging from $1.4 million to $3.2 million. (Here's my piece on the project that ran Sunday in the Globe West.)

Warshaw says he has already presold half the units, with Belclare Wellesley having just recently broken ground.

A piece in Patch - OK, looks like a press release - touts "a new housing option for discerning locals who want to change their lifestyle, not their zip code."

Definitely no 70s garden-style condo project here!

Yet it remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new trend - expensive, multimillion-dollar condos in affluent suburban centers - or just a one-shot deal.

Certainly there are growing dining and shopping options in and near Wellesley Square, but is it really going to be the same full downtown experience you'd get spending $2 million for a condo in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill or the South End?

Still, when it comes to bang for your buck, you will get a lot more space in one of Belclare's Wellesley Square condos than you would in Boston.

The Belclare Wellesley's units weigh in at an average of 1,900 square feet.

All that said, prior attempts to build Boston-style condos in the suburbs have fallen flat, with the Nouvelle, the condo tower at the Natick Mall, being the most notable flop. In fact, the previous developer of the old Wellesley Inn site tried the same play with somewhat more expensive condos, only to get derailed by the Great Recession.

Times are better now, though the economy, even here in Greater Boston, is not exactly booming.

So will suburban centers become the next stop for affluent empty-nesters? What's your take?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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