So I was on my treo today looking at pictures that I had stored on there, and up popped two that we took at our old apartment building on the day we moved out. Beautiful luxury condominiums at Longwood Towers my ass. It spurred me on to finish up this blog entry that I’ve been working on for a while:
Yes, if you want to pay $700,000 or so you too can live behind the same leaky, crumbling edifice that we were only paying $1950/month for before some clueless out-of-town real-estate mogul moved in and decided to “convert” to overpriced luxury condos. Yeah, yeah, they are “patching” the brickwork outside, and replacing the old windows with new (but still leaky from what I hear) windows, but it’s all just a surface wash. “Lipstick on a pig” is a good description of what they’ve been trying to do. Spending millions of dollars on a fancy-pants lobby renovation — which still includes, by the way, an unintentional, but sizable, water feature whenever it rains heavily — and putting paint, plaster, hardwood floors and new appliances into old apartment units is probably not going to convince enough people to pay the abnormally high price, even for Brookline. My only hope is that sanity will prevail, and most people will probably see through the facade the moment they realize that most units don’t even have laundry, and they would have to slum it down to the basement just like us poor apartment dwellers used to.
To Norman Radow and “The RADCO companies”: I hope you go broke. You’ve taken a great historic building, one of the last bastions of pseudo-afforable housing in Brookline, and defecated all over it. I didn’t really bear them too much ill will while we were happily residing there. Even though they used heavy-handed and questionable legal tactics in unsuccessful attempts to push current residents aside to make way for the “renovations,” I still somewhat respected their right to make a buck or two. But now, when I take into account the thousands of dollars that we had to spend in order to move (into a much nicer and cheaper place, by the way), and multiply that by the hundreds of other residents who probably went through a similar process and may not have been as financially secure as us, I think they deserve every bit of what’s coming to them.
They spent $110 million to buy the old dame, and then what’s estimated as another $30 millon to “renovate” it. Those costs have probably skyrocketed since then. Since they couldn’t just bully us residents and kick us out, a one-year facade repair project has balooned to 2.5 years and is still less than 75% complete. “Historic Longwood Towers just two years away from opening!” is the latest news. Professional designers were brought in to pick out the thousand dollar chairs for the lobby, the ugly artwork, stupid chandelier, marble floor, gay-looking sconces, and other trappings of artificial wealth. Yes, you heard me right, artificial. It’s like 1999 all over again, and the bubble is about to burst. See, the awful truth is that not enough people actually want to pay $700,000+ for what is really a $2500/month apartment in a crappy old building. It doesn’t matter if the valets have walkie-talkies or if there might be a driving range, or an indoor putting range put in at some point in the future (yeah, like that’s ever going to happen).
The bell is tolling for all of the condo moguls. Not just Radow. “The increasingly troubled Bay State home and condo sales market is racing into a downturn that could take years, not months, to work itself out,” according to the Herald. So, brace yourselves, home owners, buyers, and sellers. And most importantly of all: buyer beware!
Tenant discontent complicates Longwood conversion — Boston Business Journal Article
Longwood Towers Tenants Association — website
Longwood Towers Condominiums — official website
Longwood Towers (brookline) to go condo over coming months (hehe, months? yeah…) — blog entry