From the Boston Globe

By the hook

To lure buyers in today's hot condo market, developers follow a new rule of thumb: Give your property a trendy name

By Franci Richardson, Globe Correspondent | July 30, 2005

Six years ago when developer Ronald Druker started to think about naming his high-end luxury loft development in the South End, he considered the architecture -- modeled after Cezanne's studio with its floor-to-ceiling windows -- and knew that references to Boston's history just wouldn't fit. So he went for trendy.

''It is not a building that should have been named The Bradford or The Peabody or The Lowell," said Druker. Instead, he named the 505 Tremont St. building Atelier | 505 (atelier is French for studio), and sat back while prospective buyers beat a path to his door.

''The South End is, one could say, more like downtown Manhattan than it is like Beacon Hill," Druker said. ''I think [the name] speaks to the architecture of the complex, which is very contemporary and quite edgy."

Naming a property has always been a marketing tool for developers, part of the plan to evoke an emotional reaction from a targeted consumer. In today's competitive market, however, where condos are going up all over the city, and prices are sky-high, developers are trying to differentiate their properties in ways that have worked in the already saturated markets of Miami and New York, strategists say.


''I think the struggle seems to be to separate from the crowd, to make yourself unique," said Steven Smith, creative director for BrandEquity International in Newton, who recently designed the logo for NorthPoint, a 45-acre, $2 billion planned community that broke ground in Cambridge this spring, and will span into Charlestown and Somerville. Developers now want ''something that goes beyond a numerical address. They want something that creates a little story about the property -- a little hook in capturing people's imaginations," Smith said.

Paul Palandjian, president of Intercontinental Real Estate Corp., which has developed the Nine Zero Hotel at 90 Tremont St., said that trendier names may be luring out-of-towners.

''Boston is a melting pot," Palandjian said. ''It's a cosmopolitan city."

The new naming trend may be a sign that developers are trying to sidestep a project's less-than-ideal location. And if a location doesn't have a great address, why emphasize it? said Bentley College marketing professor Perry Lowe.

''There are some projects that are very viable and desirable that are in B locations rather than A locations. Those B locations . . . may be candidates for nonhistoric names," Lowe said.

Strada 234, a condominium complex on Causeway Street, is not officially in the North End, but it's close. In an effort to more closely connect the building to its Italian neighbors, it was named Strada -- street in Italian.

The old Boston College High School building tucked into the South End is being transformed into The Penmark, 60 luxury condominiums starting at $500,000.

Developer Bob Kenney, a BC High graduate, readily admits there is no deep meaning in The Penmark moniker, marketed on its website as a development ''for independent thinkers."

''We want them to remember the name and take a look at the project and building and surrounding area," Kenney said. ''Mostly, we just want them to remember the name, not so much that it conveys an image."


Folio, a residential/commercial development at 80 Broad St., was so named to convey a new chapter in the life of the 200-year-old Charles Bulfinch-designed building that houses it. Folio, which will have 96 condo units priced from $500,000 to $1.5 million, is slated to be finished by December.

''I think [naming] is an important part of the branding process," said Stephanie Wilkinson, vice president of marketing for The Collaborative Companies, the marketing consultant hired by 80 Broad Street LLC, the Folio developers.

But do the names draw buyers? Diane Aranella, a 66-year-old empty nester from Newton, said she ''impulsively" plunked down a deposit on a penthouse unit at Atelier | 505 while the project was still under construction.

''I like the name," said Aranella. ''It describes my unit, but I think if this had another name, it wouldn't matter to me. It's the location. This is where I wanted to be."
Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

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