From the Boston Globe

Loft Living

From Salem to Brockton, and points in between, there are lofts to fit every shopper’s budget

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High ceilings define this loft.

An old office building finds new uses and spectacular views at Greenway Place, near the Custom House Tower.

Loft condominiums at Greenway Place are slated to sell for more than $1 million each. (Globe Magazine photos)
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Boston’s diverse stock of lofts and loft-style residences offers airy open spaces, chic urban design, and cool addresses like “The Chocolate Factory.” But before signing up for life in a former cotton mill or sausage plant, buyers would do well to explore this dynamic market by browsing specialist websites like Maxwell Associates’ www.LoftsBoston.com.

The LoftsBoston website began as a way of selling his wife’s loft in Boston’s Leather District, explains Sebastian Diessel of Maxwell Associates. Four years later, with an extensive pictorial archive and listings from more than 40 brokers and developers, the site offers a virtual odyssey through Boston-area loft sales past and present, from established downtown locations to up-and-coming areas like Lynn. Maxwell Associates is unusual, says Diessel, in being a completely web-based, full-service real estate company. The gross value of loft sales and rentals marketed on the website has doubled for three consecutive years, which shows the appeal of the concept to web-savvy seekers of high ceilings and open-plan living space.

Many kinds of underused commercial property can be successfully reclaimed as residential space. Greenway Place is a luxury loft development in former office buildings at 199 State St., close to the Custom House Tower. The most dramatic change to the building has been its reorientation to face east across the harbor and the planned Rose Kennedy Greenway, says Paul Resten, vice president of
residential development for the Burlingtonbased Tambone Investment Group. This gives all condominiums—slated to sell for more than $1 million apiece—spectacular views of the harbor over the park, through 16-foot-wide windows. The new residential developments, says Resten, will become part of a “vibrant waterfront community that is now reconnected to the financial district by the removal of the expressway.” (The expressway was moved underground during a massive construction project known as the Big Dig.)

With a compact center, a thriving cultural scene, and North Station only 35 minutes away by commuter rail, Lowell is an affordable alternative to metro Boston, says former Cambridge Realtor
John Callahan. The Cotton House Lofts at Appleton Mill occupy the top two floors of a six-story mill building close to downtown Lowell. Prices run from $199,000 to $299,000, says Dean Harris of
Danvers-based JDL Development, LLC, with the majority under $250,000. Most units are duplexes
around 1,300 to 1,400 square feet, with living areas above, and sleeping quarters below.

Mentioned in Money magazine’s June 2004 Real Estate Report as the second most up-andcoming city of its size in America, Brockton is only a 28-minute train ride from Boston’s South Station and a 40-mile drive from Cape Cod. Contributing to Brockton’s urban renaissance is the transformation
of a one-time shoe factory into 64 two- and threebedroom lofts. The brick-and-beam building stands
across the street from the MBTA Commuter Rail Station, and with prices starting in the low $200,000s, the apartments are “great classic lofts, with lots of interesting architectural features,” says Mary Benoit of developer Cathartes Investments.

Condominium fees of $175 to $200 per month include high-speed Internet access and use of an on-site health club and function room. Desirable urban locations, access to public transportation, and focus on design are the hallmarks of current projects in Salem, Lynn, and Brookline, says Matt Picarsic, vice president of RCG-LLC’s Sales and Marketing Group. The 54 new loft-style condominiums at Derby Lofts in downtown Salem offer city and water views and short strolls to the ocean, the commuter rail, and the stunningly renovated Peabody Essex Museum. Prices range from $350,000 to $550,000 for a penthouse unit with a large balcony. Also north of Boston, Picarsic sees Lynn as an attractive option for commuters looking for space at moderate prices. The Sloan Machinery Lofts, a late 19th-century mill building close to the Central Square commuter line stop in downtown Lynn, now houses 32 loft condominiums at prices from $203,000 to $315,000. Close to Boston, but still
offering great value in terms of the local market, says Picarsic, are the 29 units at 323 Cypress Lofts in Brookline, a new construction project featuring penthouse units with “spectacular Boston skyline views,” with price tags from the low $500,000s to the low $800,000s.

Shaped by the industrial architecture of the past, the loft lifestyle can also inspire models of innovative green design. The Macallen Building, across the street from the MBTA Broadway stop on the border of South Boston and the South End, will be the first residential building in Boston to
have a living “green roof,” and to qualify for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, says Tim Pappas of developer Pappas Enterprises, Inc. Unlike conventional black rubber roofs, the green roof, planted with hardy native
grasses, will not store solar energy and so contribute to the "heat island effect" that raises the ambient temperature in dense urban developments. The green roof also provides insulation and allows rainwater to be collected, stored, and treated, says Pappas.

Constructed using non-toxic and recycled materials, and featuring lowenergy-consumption fixtures and systems, the Macallen Building houses 149 duplex and triplex condominium units at prices from the low $400,000s to more than $1.5 million.

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