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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bullish on Downtown Lynn - The Quiet Before The Storm?

It's been a while since I just talked to you guys. I'm very bullish on our downtown this year. A feeling I haven't had for a few years. 14 Central is locked in by RCG and will soon become new residences. Anything to increase our number downtown is a good thing in my books. Empty buildings don't do anyone good. I believe that the RCG folks are trying to work with the deadbeat Athanas family to see what they can do with the Hawthorne lot. That would be a huge victory. I would like to be there with the first sledgehammer.

33 Central also seems to be in play. The city has done the right thing to ensure our safety and somehow this has led to the lowering of the asking price to 249K and more recently 200K. I can't find a listing now, but the 200K price was the last I saw publicly on the internet. I guess Zee Mah is finally serious about helping us out and unloading this thing to someone who can do something with it. Looking forward to the day those boards come down.

If you read the Lynn Journal, please stop! It's like the onion, only The Onion lets you know it's fake news. The Lynn Journal recently called our Downtown "dead on arrival." So clueless it almost makes you wonder if the Onion writers may be on staff?

-Corey

15 comments:

  1. Agreed. I just think we need to be careful not to let the Athanas property become a parking lot. If the old Hawthorne can't be re-purposed, something else should at least take its footprint, and when it comes to more recent architecture around here, I'm kind of skeptical on what that would be. I'd rather see it re-purposed. The lobsters on the sides are kind of cool, anyway.. we need to keep some character.

    I just can't figure out the Journal or what audience its even trying to play to anymore. But one of its readers submitted an editorial not long ago suggestion that more buildings be raised downtown to make things more "open," because it's supposedly too dark. It was a thinly guised call for a more suburban feel. WTF? That's not what we moved here for, and we can't afford to lose any more of our urban density.

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  2. If the old owners of the Hawthorne are paying taxes they are doing more than most. The building is not an eyesore compared to others. They may be waiting for an offer via if the city takes it over. It would be a better deal than they could get now? Just a thought

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  3. or they are waiting until the market picks up?

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  4. about 5 doors down you have a restaurant that has no seats available all weekend. They are holding a very valuable piece of the puzzle hostage.

    Cowdell has been in the papers on this one. I hope if RCG is not successful that the city finally figures something out and gets control of that important piece of the Downtown puzzle.

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  5. My fear in even bringing it up was that I would introduce some to it. Don't seek it out.

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  6. Does anyone know if there were any offers made to the family for the space? If the offers were legit and rejected for no good reason then that is one issue? Is it caught up in an estate or something?
    The building is kept in nice shape compared to the majority of empty ones in downtown. The sidewalks shoveled too.
    If the city plans to take it by eminent domain the owners may be waiting. Most likely the offer will be better than what they could fetch in the current Lynn market. It will take a lot of legal action and time for the city to take it. Legally I would think it would be very challenging to do so if the taxes and building is kept up.
    Sadly you cannot give away space in downtown lynn. So many empty spaces. Hopefully RCG will change this and bring in some more activity with their new purchase.
    Which restaurant are you talking about that has the waits? The Blue Ox? They are a niche and market themselves so well. A diamond in the rough. If you got more eateries in like them before the whole area developed it would possibly take away from their existing customer base.
    Lofts are not selling. One at 7 central went for about 45k a few months back. For years they could not keep people in the mv-24 lofts.

    Hopefully the area will clean up and the RCG development will help add in more residents. As will the new space being built by the train station. Its a work in progress.

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  7. They had plans for the spot a few years back with mixed use and a parking garage underneath. They sat on those plans forever and never did anything.

    I'm hopeful as you are that RCG will change this for the Downtown.

    Of course I am talking about the Blue Ox and another restaurant with that level of service (real staff and host, etc) will do very well in the same area. People are often pissed when there is no where else to go (in their minds) when Ox is full up. That property is most likely prime for this as there could be parking behind and it has a kitchen.

    I live in 7 Central. A friend tried to buy that unit, but they wanted all cash. THe bank was just unloading a property, unfair to state that as value of our condos. Most are on the market around 150K (still about 30-50K off where we bought 4 years ago). The truth is, there isn't a lot of interesting stock left. My friend gave up looking and got a place in another city. All the good stuff is taken. MV24 is a Mayo property. Thin walls, poor construction. I've heard complaints about RCG too, but no where near the Mayo complaints I've heard.

    What new space being built by the train station? The All Care VNA building? That will do nothing to improve the downtown or resident count. Our chief complaint with it going on a prime piece of downtown real estate.

    Yes we're a work in progress, we make a lot of decisions that set us back, but lately, I'm seeing a lot of positive progress.

    So why the defense of the Athanas family? They've abandoned us, no? Do you have evidence to the contrary?

    -Corey

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  8. Its easy to find. just don't know what it is.

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  9. 7 Central sold to someone who has a loan on it. BOA-look in public records Sat on the market for a while at a low low price. When it did not sell the bank dropped the price. Unit was in move in condition. If another were to go on the market it would sell at a similar price. Sorry to say property is worth 1/4 or so of what it sold for at the height. Sad reality in communities all over the country.
    Interesting stock. All of the lofts are nice and unique. The ones on the market are not selling because of supply and demand.
    The VNA will bring in more people to the area. Perhaps bring in more community members.
    The Athanas shovel their walk and pay their taxes. Not ideal but a lot better than the majority of property owners in Lynn.
    Hopefully the area will blossom again sometime.

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  10. I'll agree to disagree on "all of the lofts are nice and unique." We looked at all of the available lofts, all in the 120-180K range and my friend didn't like any. She kept her apartment in Quincy and is now very excited about 14 Central. Although less excited when she heard it might be rentals (to your point). Everyone is short sighted in this market.

    -Corey

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  11. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A loft is a unique property that appeals to a niche market of people. They are also very inexpensive for a developer to convert-thus the overage of them in all of the communities, Haverhill, Lawerence etc...
    It is a tough decision to make to buy in downtown Lynn. I think the reality of it hits people and they change their mind. Most likely the case of your friend. If the prices get as low for the current lofts as it did for the apartment condo at 7 central, (which they very may well once banks start taking them over and people bailing) it may be a good thing. Buyers will come in lured by the bargain and overlook the Lynn area and set up shop, because they got a bargain. Hopefully they can get in new owner occupants.
    Look at 285 Lynn Shore Drive as well. People actually paid over 125k for studios that now cannot sell for 45k. That is a nice property right on the beach.
    The new RCG development will help add residents. Most likely lower income, such as the Brightwood Terrace they manage. Those were condos and could not sell. The thing saving downtown Lynn now is the residents who paid too much for their condos and cannot leave. Once they start having families they will flee for the burbs. Most urbanites flee any urban area they have once they have kids. Even hardcore native New Yorkers. So if you can keep the people who are upside down on their units in place and get in come new owner occupants who will be lured by the cheap loft then you may have a nice combination of residents to add to the base. Just a thought.

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  12. Don't disagree with most of that.

    You would expect a yuppie like me to move once the "Y" in yuppie isn't true anymore. More yuppies move in and I think you're right, we're going to have to come up with a new term when all us old folks are still trapped. That should not be a goal though. You seem so settled in accepting what it is.

    I'm not reversing my bullish perspective and i still believe what you are describing is short-sighted.

    There are several things beyond housing that can make significant shifts in a market like Lynn's downtown. There is a considerable move in this country to settle in to urban spaces. Lynn happens to be the last place people look. They think it's like Lawrence. They are wrong.

    On my friend, as I said, she is eagerly looking at 14 central. Unfortunately, if what you say is true, you are right, we will once again be short-sighted enough to not produce the kind of downtown opportunities that will bring her here.


    -Corey

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  13. Just a few thoughts and corrections to add to the thread...

    Recent sales in downtown Lynn from the last six months consist of the following:

    Unit 209 @ Sloan lofts: Sold on 9/24 for $153,000. On the market for 86 days.

    Unit 201 @ Oxford lofts: Sold on 12/15 for $122,000. On the market for 21 days.

    Unit 202 @ 7 Central: Sold on 10/19 for $50,000. On the market for 34 days.

    As of today, there are four other lofts available for sale in downtown Lynn, ranging in price from $169,000 - $199,000.

    Regarding the buyer that Corey is talking about, she was my client. She didn't end up purchasing here because she's never owned property and she got cold feet. She decided to stay put and to rent for a bit longer. Also, she was only interested in lofts with divided rooms ... not completely open space. This obviously narrowed down her options to almost nothing in downtown Lynn (since most of the lofts available at that time were all open space lofts).

    With that said, the buyer profile for loft condos in downtown Lynn fits a very small pool of buyers ... which is to be expected. This is not a bad thing, btw. I can explain the buyer profile in detail, but I think everyone knows the types of people who buy in urban areas that are going through the gentrification process.

    Also, I have to respectfully disagree with Corey ... the lofts WERE "nice and unique" ... I'm actually surprised to hear Corey say that he didn't think they were ... I look forward to a conversation with him about this the next time I see him. ; )

    As for the Diamond District, there are very recent condo sales as high as $269,000.

    Are there units in oceanfront buildings selling for far less? Sure. I own a unit in The Breakers that I paid $106,000 for several years ago, but I'd be lucky if I got $75,000 for it today. (Good news is that I'm getting $900 per month in rent, which is great for a small unit.) The Breakers has always warranted lower prices ... there is one recent sale of a bank owned unit in The Breakers that sold for $47,000, but there's also another that just sold for $96,000. This is no different from the fact that multi-million dollar homes in nearby affluent communities are selling at discounts of up to 40%. Same thing. As everyone knows, the housing market problems aren't unique to Lynn.

    That's it for now. Thanks for listening to my two cents.

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  14. are they really selling at a 40% discount, or is real estate everywhere just way overpriced, and coming back to reality?

    Paul D.

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