Zillow Looks at Boston Rents, with an Amazon HQ2 Here, and It Ain't Pretty

Friday, April 27, 2018

Boston is among the 20 finalist cities in the competition to become the second (after Seattle) headquarters city in the U.S. of Amazon.

The old Suffolk Downs racetrack in East Boston and Revere is widely seen as the best of the sites in and around Boston that have been put forward as potential locations for this headquarters facility, or “HQ2,” as it’s been labeled.
I grew up in a large family in Revere.  Even though I have not lived there for many years, when someone asks me where I’m from, I still say Revere because I have never been anything other, nor have I ever wanted to be anything other, than a Revere person.  I guess I’m like most folks in that regard: the place where we grow up remains forever special in our hearts and memories.  It holds an outsized place in our imaginations.

My love for Revere is possessive.  I don’t want anything bad to happen to it.  So I’m not happy Amazon may be what replaces Suffolk Downs.
Amazon’s talking about employing, ultimately, up to 50,000 persons at HQ2.  Previously, in this space, I have wondered how all those workers would get to work on time every day when the roads in the area are already often at capacity or over capacity.  Tens of thousands of motorists use the roads in that area, principally Route C-1 and Bennington Street, every day to get to and from Logan Airport.  I (and many others) have speculated that Amazon-at-Suffolk-Downs would drive the already high price of housing in Revere, East Boston and Winthrop to head-shaking heights. 

Ridiculously more costly housing would almost certainly squeeze middle-earning and low-earning working families out of those communities, changing them forever. Those are the families that made Revere, East Boston and Winthrop the good and distinctive places they are.  Once Amazon got established, they’d no longer be communities where immigrants could get a start.
Now comes the popular real estate web site Zillow with an analysis of how HQ2 would affect housing prices in each of the 20 finalist cities.

If Boston were to win the HQ2 competition, Zillow is projecting that, by 2028, the average home/apartment renter in the area would be paying $1,501 more per month in rent; whereas, if Boston were to lose the competition, the average renter would be paying $1,015 more per month.
Here’s another way to frame that estimate: with Boston hosting HQ2, renters could be paying $5,832 more per year in 10 years’ time than they would in a city lacking an Amazon mega-works.

No place on this earth can (or should) be frozen in time for the comfort of a previous generation.  It’s impossible to stop change in a free economy.  But shouldn’t we at least be trying to shape change in areas like the cost of housing, where a large part of the population will otherwise emerge from that change in much worse shape?

No comments:

Post a Comment