Two interesting articles in the Globe’s business pages today about two different real estate developers. One of them is trying to make Massachusetts an easier place for non-wealthy people to live. The other is trying to, well, make a pile of money.
Exhibit A: Magic Johnson (that’s right, the guy who played against Larry Bird in some of the greatest basketball games of all time).
Johnson’s Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds has become the majority financier of a project to redevelop an old factory in Charlestown into 146 units of so-called “workforce” housing — units the developers said will be priced so middle-income families and workers can afford them.
The condos will sell from under $200,000 at the “very affordable” level to market-rate units starting in the low-$300,000-range. About 10 percent of the units will be reserved for lower-income buyers who qualify under government affordable housing standards….
“Our job is not regentrification, but we are also not in the low-income business,” [Magic’s partner Bobby] Turner said. “What Magic and I believe is that you can make money by marketing to urban-workforce communities. This community has been dramatically overlooked.
Artists in 10 buildings in the Fort Point section of Boston that are slated to be redeveloped said the new owners have repeatedly failed to give them new leases or relocations to comparable space….
Goldman, which has redeveloped urban buildings in New York’s SoHo and in Florida’s South Beach, plans to turn the two Summer Street buildings into 88 luxury condos, including five glass penthouse residences on top. Those conversions are the first steps in a plan to turn 10 of the brick-and-beam warehouses around Summer and A streets into a hip community of homes, restaurants, shops, and galleries.
You know what? Boston has enough “hip communities” that feature “glass penthouse residences.” What it doesn’t have enough of is places where ordinary people can afford to live. I used to root as hard as I could for Larry Bird back in the good old days when the Celtics-Lakers rivalry meant something. Today, though, I’m rooting for Magic.