The Davis Companies: Hitting a New Housing Sweet Spot

February 2017

Since 1976, The Davis Companies (TDC), based in Boston, has been a leader in successfully repositioning, developing, and managing commercial office properties. The firm invests in a range of real estate types, with properties located primarily in the Northeast. TDC currently has investments in approximately 120 properties, representing nearly $3 billion of gross asset value and new construction of 2.5 million square feet. 

During the past few years, TDC has increased its portfolio of residential investments, developing both rental and condominium/townhome housing in select markets, including properties in Maryland, Northern Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Illinois, Florida, and in and around Boston. TDC’s development arm recently broke ground on 180 Telford, an 85-unit condominium building on Soldier’s Field Road, overlooking the Charles River in Allston. The units will range from studios to three-bedrooms, and feature open floor plans with large windows and state-of-the-art finishes and appliances.

Right time, right place

TDC is making its move at the right time. According to “A Building Boom in Boston,” which appeared in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in June 2016, the city’s population grew by twice the national rate of 3 percent annually between 2010 and 2014, with nearly 100,000 new residents projected to flow in during the next 14 years. The influx will be spurred largely by young professionals, fueled by the continued growth in Boston’s biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

While the WSJ article cites a range of luxury, multi-million-dollar real estate examples, TDC is targeting Millennials, first-time home buyers, and those looking to downsize efficiently. 

“What we are aiming to deliver is an urban home ownership option that is relatively affordable,” explains TDC president Richard McCready. “As real estate investors, we tend to think in terms of acquisition, land, and improvement costs that are measured by price per square foot. Most home buyers don’t look at the world that way. They are more focused on finding the best quality, amenities, and location for their dollars. They’re looking at matching what they can comfortably spend with what’s available, and may sacrifice square footage for an efficient floor plan and better location within their price range. With this in mind, we seek to create an attractively designed product with an open, efficient floor plan that will allow a young, working person or an empty-nester to buy a new condominium unit located within the city. Apartment rents are consistently increasing in and around Boston, so we want to provide a fresh, modern living space that someone can actually own at a similar monthly cost to a rental space within that community.”

Affordable amenities

While Boston’s upscale condos boast several hot amenities—like “Twitter walls,” roof-top cabanas carrying separate premiums, and dedicated Instagram pages and concierge apps—TDC focuses on the must-haves that make life easier for its residents.

“A few things really matter to this market,” explains McCready. “People want transit-oriented properties that make getting into the city easy and less stressful; they also want to be able to walk, bike, or otherwise easily get to and from where they work, shop, work out, etc. Access to public transit is key. For those who drive, covered parking is a desirable amenity.” To his latter point, 180 Telford features a covered garage with 84 parking spaces.

Another important feature, he says, is dedicated outdoor and common space. “People love having spaces that create community within the building, like a fitness center or outdoor terrace and fire pit,” he adds. “It creates a neighborhood feeling and a sense of home.” Resident amenities at 180 Telford include a rowing room, full gym, a lounge featuring an indoor club room, and an outdoor courtyard with grills and a fire pit.

“Taken together, all those features, offered at an affordable price, are attractive to the market we’re targeting,” he states. “Our goal has been to bring those amenities together and build a true feeling of community. And we feel we’ve succeeded.”

Working with a flexible partner

The 180 Telford project brought TDC into contact with Salem Five, which took the lead in a shared $25 million loan for construction and development. “Beyond having a loan, we feel we are building a true relationship with Salem Five,” McCready says. “This is our first transaction with the bank, and we’ve been very happy with the responsiveness and flexibility we’ve had in terms of working out a construction loan arrangement tailored to our needs.”

Learn more about Salem Five Real Estate Financing