The changing face of property development

There are a lot of exciting innovations here at Inman in New York, and it’s not just about the technology. Kieran Clair talks to Wayne Lopez from St. Regis about a different style of property development that combines the benefits of resort accommodation with residential living.

Topic – Resort living meets residential development

Mentor – Wayne Lopez


Kieran:   There are a lot of exciting innovations here at Inman in New York, and it’s not just about the technology, it’s about doing something a bit different with development, and we’ve come across something that we wanted to have a bit of a chat about. I have here Wayne Lopez, the director of sales from Cronin Developments.

Kieran:   G’day, Wayne.

Wayne: Good afternoon.

Kieran:   Now you guys are doing something a little different in the development space with licencing in St. Regis. Tell me a bit more about it.

Wayne: Yes, in Boston, Massachusetts, we are now developing one of the first of its kind St. Regis Residences Boston. The idea is that where there are St. Regis Hotels throughout the world, some of which have residential components to them, this will be the first of its kind to be developed. It’ll be all about residential exclusivity within a hotel service setting.

Kieran:   Wow. That’s incredible. It sounds like a really prestigious offering that you’re putting out. Give me some of the logistics, numbers of units and some of the features that are going to be involved.

Wayne: It’s 114 condominium homes. It’s being under construction right now in Boston Seaport, so the property is literally on the waterfront. It’s the last seaport property to be developed. It’s an architecturally stunning building. It’s designed to make a statement for not only the Seaport neighbourhood that its within but also for the city of Boston. It’s over 22 storeys, exclusively residential, branded St. Regis, managed, staffed, trained by St. Regis.

Wayne: We’re bringing the hotel style services to a residential environment with the idea being that you get the conveniences of the services, five-star services, the butler, which is the St. Regis known service, but without the inconveniences or having to share with a transient nature of hotel guests who may be coming and going from the property but have the same vested interests.

Kieran:   Right, so you’ll be able to get things like room service, clean towels down around the pool, that sort of-

Wayne: Correct.

Kieran:   All of those things are going to be …

Wayne: All the hotel services you would expect by staying in the St. Regis will be available to our residences, but they’re not sharing these services with guests who are in and out on a daily basis. They’re all offered exclusively to the homeowners.

Kieran:   Right, that’s incredible. Now, you may have picked up from my accent I’m not a local. Why Boston? Why did you choose that as the location to do something like this?

Wayne: Well, Boston’s a world class city, Cronin Development is based in Boston, and I think St. Regis recognise the fundamentals that Boston offers from a real estate perspective but also from an economic standpoint where we have medical, financial, educational drivers to our demand with what is consistently a limited supply market.

Kieran:   Yeah, right. This style of development, as you’ve said, it’s very cutting edge. Was there a moment, was there a stimulus where Cronin Development said, “You know what? There is a demand for this type of product.” Is there some way that the companies thought, “This is the direction we want to head in.”

Wayne: Absolutely. I think the principal, Jon Cronin, identified a need within the marketplace where there are buildings that offer hotel and residences in one setting, but again that doesn’t offer the exclusivity that some people might like where they don’t want to be in a transient hotel guest style environment where, for example, you’re sharing your amenity services, your pool, your valet services with hotel guests.

Wayne: And there’s nothing wrong with that, but this just offers them more exclusive environment in a boutique setting for people to enjoy those services but with the exclusivity that a residential-only environment would provide. And for us by being able to affiliate with the St. Regis, it brings a level of services that people have experienced throughout the world they can expect when they move into this property, so the value proposition is that they know the services in advance.

Wayne: The St. Regis butler, in my opinion, is the equivalent of a 21st century personal assistant. And where time is the one commodity that people can’t purchase, this gives them back the time that they can otherwise use toward their family, their business, or whatever they might like.

Kieran:   You touched on something there. Have you identified the demographic of your buyer? Who is most likely to be purchasing these exclusive-

Wayne: I think our predominant buyer is going to be the empty nester, for the most part. People who may be moving into the city from the suburban marketplace, wanting to have that waterfront experience. There are literally 51 miles of harbour walk throughout the Boston waterfront that someone coming in could enjoy walking to restaurants, shopping, dining.

Kieran:   Got to get onto the important point. Price point. What are we looking at for the pricing of this style of home?

Wayne: Our homes range from one bedrooms to six plus bedrooms, and we’re priced competitively with prices that have already been established in the marketplace. So we like to think we’re offering the home of tomorrow at price points that have already been established and trading today.

Wayne: We’ll start our one-bedrooms homes in the low 1 million range and then we go up to the 2, 3, 25 million plus range with price points that are already established and consistent within our marketplace.

Kieran:   Right. The median price for a property in Boston, would you know the figure there by any chance?

Wayne: From a new construction perspective we are right on par with those other offerings that are within the city. And again, we’re not delivering for another two years so you’re able to buy tomorrow’s home at today’s price point which also happens to be a St. Regis developed on the last waterfront parcel that’s available in the seaport.

Kieran:   Terrific. The other thing, is there ongoing …? I imagine under these situations in Australia we would have a body corporate. You would have to make contributions to the upkeep and maintenance of the property and the ongoing of the services. Will that be part of the conditions of purchasing into one of these where you’ll have ongoing fees and charges too.

Wayne: Yes, we have a condominium association that will be established. The association will be managed by St. Regis and we have what are called monthly condominium fees. Those monthly condominium fees are all the expenses of ownership rolled into one monthly fee and on a per square foot basis our condominium fees are going to range at about approximately $1.75 per square foot. Which is inclusive of your maintenance, your insurance, your heating, your cooling, primarily all your fixed cost of ownership just rolled into one monthly fee with parking, also valet being inclusive within that fee.

Kieran:   Right.

Wayne: It’s a turnkey approach to living where you literally are able to come and go as you please. Turn the key, leave and know that there’s staff or there’s services to accommodate your needs while you may not be at home.

Kieran:   Does that fee vary with the type of apartment that you have or …? So is it one fee across-

Wayne: It does vary because what we do is with the establishment of a condominium association, there is a percentage interest that is attributed towards each home. And when the condominium association is first established, those percentage interests, which are a reflection of the value of the homes, are all established within the condominium documents that are filed within the city. And then you, as a homeowner, pay your proportionate share of the overall expenses which is based upon that percentage interest.

Kieran:   I mean, this project is a big one. You must be very excited about it. Looking ahead, do you think you’ll do more in the Boston area of this style of development or would this be something that could translate nationwide?

Wayne: This is something that is and is in process of being translated nationally and internationally. So with Marriott International that owns the St. Regis brand, they are going to be developing properties that are similar with this residential exclusivity with hotel services forthcoming in New York and then globally as well. So this is the start of something that will continue throughout.

Kieran:   You must be excited.

Wayne: Absolutely. It’s a very exciting property for us.

Kieran:   Give us the name of the development again?

Wayne: St. Regis Residences in Boston, developed by Cronin Development and marketed exclusively by Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty.

Kieran:   Fantastic. Wayne Lopez, thanks for your time.

Wayne: Thank you.

Kieran:   And that’s great, thank you.

Wayne: Pleasure.

Kieran:   That was Wayne Lopez from Cronin Development.

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