Some major Boston developers — John Hynes, Thomas O’Brien and Richard Galvin — state the obvious: The high price of land in downtown Boston absolutely precludes building truly affordable housing there.
So the affordable-housing solution, they agree, is to build elsewhere in the city, where property is cheaper and where city-owned land might be exploited to further reduce building costs. From the BBJ:
One solution, Hynes said, is to use vacant, city-owned parcels for construction of “stick-built” multifamily homes that could be built at a 50 percent discount from prevailing rates — savings that could be passed along to tenants.
“Most of the affordable housing audience don’t want to live at the Mandarin Oriental or an AvalonBay tower, they really don’t,” Hynes said. “They are not comfortable, they don’t want to live there. Believe me, I have family members who are affordable housing candidates, they teach, they have middle class jobs, they don’t want to live in the Seaport. They want to live in Upham’s Corner, Field’s Corner or Brighton. Take those sites.”
Besides land costs, the developers agreed that labor costs are also a major impediment to building affordable housing. No, they don’t engage in union bashing. Instead, it’s more of a labor-market shortage of skilled trade workers that are driving labor costs up, they say.
File under: Things to think about