What is "market rate"? $3,800+/month for a 2BR

Harvard is describing its proposed Barry's Corner apartments as being "market rate" and the project as being "market driven". There was discussion last night about what that really means, and what the rents would be in such a situation.

There isn't much comparable new construction in Allston, but here are a couple examples from the Longwood area that might be relevant - these 2BR apartments are $3,825 and $3,950 per month. The Trilogy on Bolyston Street is a "first-class", luxury building and Harvard wasn't clear if it envisions something on par with this, but in the meantime we can consider this to be a possible high-end of the range for rents.

A possible alternative would be to include some "workforce housing" which would be affordable to people who earn approximately the median income. Workforce housing is a priority of Mayor Menino and a report by the Urban Land Institute observes that:
  • Housing in the Boston metropolitan area remains unaffordable to the vast majority of workforce households
  • Between now and 2020, the Boston metropolitan area market will face an additional shortage of nearly 11,000 units, leaving many of the region’s teachers, firefighters, nurses, and other workers vital to the area’s economy priced out of the market.
  • The ability to house workers in key workforce housing employment sectors—teachers, health care workers, police officers, and firefighters, among others—is vital to the economic sustainability of the Boston metropolitan area.
  • Workforce renter households, particularly those with three or more persons, are largely priced out of the market for new-construction rental apartments. The high cost of land, entitlement, and construction makes developing new rental housing for these households challenging, if not impossible, without creative public financing solutions and other subsidy mechanisms.

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