By Liz Berthelette – Director of Research
East Boston boasts a major transportation hub (Logan International Airport), public transit access (the Blue Line), an eclectic mix of commercial users, plenty of highly-sought after industrial space (ripe for conversion) and water views. Sound familiar? Looking at the Seaport just 5-10 years ago; you’ll find a similar picture. This neighborhood’s transformation could provide a glimpse into East Boston’s future.
Here are the top 5 reasons Eastie may be next in Boston’s path of growth:
- The Area’s Growing Artist Colony. Historically artists have clustered in the Seaport’s Fort Point neighborhood, as the area offered cheap commercial space among the abandoned factories. Unprecedented growth and development over the past 15+ years has brought millions of square feet of new commercial real estate to the Seaport and with it, higher rents. Facing this increased pricing local artists have been turning to more affordable destinations in East Boston, Lowell and beyond. The ICA also recently announced plans to construct a satellite location across the harbor in an abandoned industrial building. This expansion, which is slated to open in 2018, should attract more artists to the East Boston community.
- Access to the T. The importance of Boston’s public transit system to this cycle cannot be overstated. Recent demographic trends have led to increasing demand for urban living/working, and subsequently, public transportation. Downtown Boston as well as connections to the Orange and Green lines are just a few short stops, via the Blue Line at Maverick Station or Airport Station, from East Boston — making the area ideal for young professionals looking for easy access to the city’s employment centers.
- The Expanding Population Base. Cheaper housing (relative to the rest of Boston), new construction, increased amenities, and public transit access have all helped attract residents to East Boston. With a population base of more than 43,000 in 2016 the number of residents has increased by 12% since 2000; topping ESRI’s list of fastest growing Boston neighborhoods. While the Seaport maintains a much smaller resident population, the growth patterns over the last 20 years have been similar.
- New Residential Development. Similar to the Seaport, East Boston has seen an uptick in construction over the last few years. More than 500 multifamily units have come on line here since 2014 and another 850 units are currently under construction. While the large number of new residential developments (including many luxury projects) have led to a massive run-up in home prices and rents in East Boston, the demand for new housing remains solid here.
- The Potential Redevelopment of Suffolk Downs. The recent sale of the Suffolk Downs track in East Boston to developer HYM Investment Group could bring much-needed commercial space to the neighborhood. While details of any planned developments are scant, a project like Seaport Square in the Seaport or Assembly Row in Somerville could put East Boston on the map for retailers and commercial users.
As Boston’s urban population and employment base expand further, look for continued growth and development in somewhat new frontiers like East Boston.