AvalonBay Begins Work on Back Bay Apartments

AvalonBay Communities has broken ground on Avalon Exeter in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, with 52 units slated to be affordable housing.

Boston—AvalonBay Communities has broken ground on Avalon Exeter in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. According to the developer, a REIT specializing in multifamily properties, the property—a 242,0000-square-foot tower of glass and stone next to the Lenox Hotel—is the first freestanding apartment building to break ground in Boston since 2008.

The 28-story development will have 187 residential units, consisting of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The property will also mark the completion of the residential part of the Prudential Center, a mixed-use complex a number of decades in the making. Avalon Exeter will be completed in 2013.

Fifty two of the Avalon Exeter’s units will be affordable housing, a number arrived at after negotiations between the developer and the city of Boston. As part of the negotiations, AvalonBay also agreed to increase the number of affordable units in the other properties it owns in the Back Bay, which are the Boylston, the Fairfield, and the Gloucester.

The remainder of Avalon Exeter’s residences will be market rate. The studio apartments will start at about $1,800, while the one-bedroom units will start at $2,500. The two-bedroom units will fetch $3,500 and up. There will also be penthouse units on the building’s top two floors, but their prices haven’t been determined.

As in many other places, Boston has lately seen a rise in demand for apartment properties, but little corresponding rise in supply. In the second quarter of 2011, the Boston-area apartment vacancy rate stood at 4.4 percent, down from 6.2 percent during the second quarter of 2010, according to Reis Inc. Some neighborhoods are even tighter, such as Back Bay, whose current vacancy rate Reis puts at 1.2 percent.