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Three Things for National Developers to Consider When Moving to a Local Market Print E-mail
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 08:21

Across the nation, the retail market is being driven by tenants demanding Class A space, which is in short supply almost everywhere, while the growth of e-commerce, especially in apparel, consumer electronics and office supplies, is slowing construction of brick-and-mortar stores. And yet mixed-use real estate developments have never been more popular because of the proven success that can arise out of combining housing, retail and office space.

For national developers, it may be tempting to take a cookie-cutter approach when it comes to building mixed-use in various markets across the country. But, as with politics, it’s all local. There are, however, ways to maximize success. Here are three items that should always be evaluated.

 

  • Find the need: This may seem obvious, but sometimes lasting perceptions of a particular city or region can die hard, making it easy to overlook opportunities. For example, according to Cassidy Turley’s State of Commercial Real Estate Development Across the U.S. Fall 2014, Baltimore’s population is steadily increasing for the first time in 60 years.

 

  • Tailor the amenities: Tastes can vary by zip code. In New York City, developers are going to extremes to find ways to differentiate their projects, especially when it comes to residential mixed-use, from wine cellars and indoor play spaces for kids, to rock climbing walls. In Boston, playing up a commercial building’s location, especially in an emerging district (such as the Seaport), can be considered a unique amenity. For example, the new and highly anticipated Assembly Square mixed-use development in Somerville just got its own MBTA station on the Orange Line. Athletic company New Balance is building a new headquarters called Boston Landing, a mixed-use development that will include its own commuter rail stop.

 

  • Make the marketing shine: The amount of saturation in cities like New York means developers need to leverage more marketing strategies than they do in Boston or Orlando or smaller markets. Marketing materials that help you stand out include: a strong brand identity, website, apps, films, print collateral, advertising, and even a marketing center. Especially for busy executives and tech-savvy young professionals, an iPad app can be the most effective way to show the layout of the future development. It’s all about having a comprehensive and cohesive campaign, giving people various touch points to interact with the story before the shovel even goes into the ground to build the development. Evaluate how it would be best to get peoples’ attention in your new city.

 

While following national trends in commercial real estate is essential, what works in one city doesn’t always work in another.

This post also appeared on the ICSC blog.

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Boston vs. New York: How Luxury Real Estate Compares Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 07:53

There’s been a huge increase in supply of luxury residential units in Boston – and there’s more on the way. This year, there will be 9,277 new high-end apartments added to the city compared with 3,223 the previous year, with another 8,000 units expected over the next three years.

New York City is seeing a similar surge in high-end properties.  Crain’s reported that spending on residential construction is poised to hit a new record high this year of $10.2 billion, up 50 percent from 2013 – and of course, most of that construction is at the high end.

But just because both cities are building luxury homes doesn’t mean they are building the same types of units. Consumer demands vary by region and what Bostonians want can be quite different from what New Yorkers expect. As a recent transplant to Boston from New York, I seem to be noticing the sometimes subtle and sometimes overt differences in amenities, look and feel, size and even how a building is marketed between the cities.

NYC amenities can be categorized as “ultra-luxury,” including rock climbing walls and an IT concierge to help you set up your electronics. From wine cellars at 34 Leonard, to yoga studios, fitness facilities with tennis and basketball courts and movie screening rooms, everything you need is inside your building – including a sauna at Walker Tower; a wellness center at Chelsea Green and a children’s play space at 737 Park Ave.

In Boston, while the luxury scene is beginning to stretch the range of amenities, common offerings are more likely to include doggy daycare (see One North of Boston) and fitness centers with an occasional rooftop terrace, rather than childcare facilities or even playrooms for children who live there. When The Clarendon in Back Bay began marketing units, the children’s room was presented more as a place to bring grandchildren. In order to encourage more families to move to the city, Boston could be better at offering and marketing family-centered amenities.

In the meantime, most luxury rental and condo buildings in Boston are catering to singles and empty nesters. At the Kensington in Chinatown, one ‘amenity’ comes in the form of programming: “mix & mingle” events. But the building also offers a solarium, pet spa, and game room with a pool table.

Ultimately, how you market these luxury buildings and amenities is crucial. Because NYC’s luxury scene is very competitive, and developers typically offer the same amenities, one of the few ways to stand out is through marketing, which can include brand identity, website, apps, films, print collateral, advertising, a marketing center, and model apartments. It is all about going the extra mile.

Boston developers are beginning to experience the same level of competition and are upping their marketing game. In extreme cases, such as Twenty Two Liberty on Fan Pier (where the most rarified amenities are a marina and fitness space that continues outdoors), developer Joe Fallon has created an air of exclusivity around the project by doing virtually no marketing of the property, which is already 80 percent sold.

While every building is different, there are some best practices when it comes to branding a luxury building. We outlined these ideas in a previous post.

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Neoscape Ice Bucket Challenge Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 12:20

If you’ve logged onto social media recently, you’ve probably seen videos of everyone from your friends to celebrities dousing themselves in buckets of ice water. The concept is simple and has taken the Internet by storm: Raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig ‘s Disease, by posting a video of yourself getting doused by a bucket of ice water, after nominating three friends to do the same. If you’ve been nominated and fail to complete the challenge, you’re asked to donate money to fund ALS research.

According to the ALS Association, thanks largely in part to the ice bucket challenge, a reported $4 million in donations have been made between July 29th and August 12th, compared to $1.2 million in donations over the same period last year.

Neoscape’s Boston studio was recently nominated by its business development manager, Melissa Desingco, to participate in the ice bucket challenge. Never wanting to pass up a challenge, several members of the Boston team agreed to participate. Neoscape is pleased to take on the ice bucket challenge in addition to making a monetary donation to fund ALS research. Head over to our Facebook page to watch the video and see whom Neoscape nominated to participate next!

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Get to Know Haley Wilich, Project Coordinator Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 July 2014 14:03

You recently relocated from Washington, DC. Why did you decide to move to Massachusetts? What has been the biggest adjustment?

I moved to be closer to family – my mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law all live in New Hampshire. Since I’ve been back, I’ve been able to spend most weekends up there going to the beach and spending time with them. I also have two little godsons who live in CT, so now I get to spend a lot more time with them, too!

The move and the adjustments that came with it are all very positive. I love being able to go to NH so frequently, which is something I didn’t get to do when I was living in DC. I am taking full advantage of being back in the area. Additionally, most of my closest friends live in Boston so I’ve been having a blast hanging out with them in the city.

 

Are there any similarities between living and working in DC vs. Boston?

There are far more differences than similarities. DC feels more formal and traditionally professional than Boston. I like the pace of life here more.

 

What are you most looking forward to while working at Neoscape?

The creative minds here blow me away. Even though I’m not particularly creative myself, I love being in this kind of environment every day and seeing everyone here work. I look forward to continuously being mind-blown by the amazing work everyone here does.

 

When you’re not busy working as a project coordinator at Neoscape, what do you like to do for fun?

I like to get outside when the weather is nice. If I’m lucky, I’ll spend the weekends at the beach in New Castle, NH where I grew up, riding my road bike up through Kittery, ME, or catching up with my friends in both Boston and NH.

 

What is your favorite amusement park ride?

I don’t mind heights and I like going fast, so probably a roller coaster with loops that take you upside down. I have to admit, it’s been quite a few years since I last went to an amusement park…

 

Neoscape employees have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to beer…There’s always something new in the kegerator. On that note, what’s your favorite type of beer?

Heady Topper! Vermont beer all the way.

 

What would your last meal be?

Easy – miso soup, salmon donburi with brown rice, and mango with sticky rice for dessert. Does that make me boring?

 

Imagine you were chosen as a contestant on Nickelodeon’s Super Toy Run when you were a kid. What three toys would you make sure to put in your cart?

Skip-it, a huge super soaker and sand art bottles!

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Get to Know Lisa Jarnell, 3D Artist Print E-mail
Friday, 11 July 2014 07:02


You recently relocated from Portland, Oregon. Why did you decide to move to Massachusetts? What has been the biggest adjustment?

Taking a job at Neoscape was the biggest influence in my decision to move to Boston. I was ready for a bigger city and a new adventure. The biggest adjustments so far have been learning to navigate the city and remembering I have the ability to get and use plastic bags at grocery stores. They’re illegal in Portland!

  

What are you most looking forward to while working at Neoscape?

I’m excited to work in a fun collaborative environment with talented artists that I can learn from. I can’t wait to take it all in and start working on projects, which are more diverse here than what I’m used to.

  

One of your degrees is a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. How are you able to utilize this as a 3D artist?

I think I will utilize the design and space planning aspects of landscape architecture the most as a 3D artist.

  

When you’re not busy working as a 3D artist at Neoscape, what do you like to do for fun?

I love to travel and explore and one of my goals is to visit all of the states in the United States. I also enjoy activities such as kickball, softball and fun runs.

 

Speaking of fun, do you have fun plans for your first summer in Boston?

I’m looking forward to exploring the city and the surrounding beaches, parks etc. I’ve never been to New York City, either, so I’m looking forward to exploring other big cities along the East Coast.

 

Neoscape employees have pretty eclectic tastes when it comes to beer…There’s always something new in the kegerator. On that note, what’s your favorite type of beer?

It kind of depends. Coming from Oregon, I’d say I like Red Chair Beer and Pyramid Brew Hefeweizen. I also like Midas Touch from Dogfish Head Brewery.

  

What would your last meal be?

Because I’m like a little kid, it would be grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s my go-to meal when I don’t know what I want.

 

You get to go on vacation for a week with any TV family while they remain in character. Which family do you go with and why?

I’d go on vacation with either the cast of Modern Family or New Girl because it would be fun and entertaining the entire time.

 

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Copyright © 2014. Robert Hewitt | Clemson University professor of Landscape Architecture.
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