Gazette: Over-55 Condo Project in Amherst Stalled for Lack of Demand

Today’s Gazette reports how a condo project at Hampshire College has stalled for lack of demand. High prices are part of the problem. Veridian Village is asking $350-$385 per square foot. Some of the expense is for green features like bamboo flooring. Other local projects for retirees, however, cost $240-$275. More broadly, developers say the condo market is soft.

Veridian Village’s 129 units were supposed to appeal to the demographic bulge of people [over 55] who want an active retirement, not a sterile environment…

Town Manager Larry Shaffer hailed Veridian Village as a model for increasing tax revenue (by about $75,000 a year in this case) without the expense of adding a lot of children to the schools…

But the planned start of construction this fall will not take place. Veridian Village needed to lock down about 20 purchase-and-sale agreements to start building its first phase, and it didn’t come close.

“We’re working on two or three,” said Josh Cohen of Beacon Communities, the development company partnering with Hampshire…

“And right now is a difficult time to be selling condos, particularly before they’ve been built,” said Cohen…

[Says Steve Freedman, an Amherst Realtor,] “This is not a good time to be doing anything as a builder. You have to be very careful. We don’t know how long this is going on, and there are very few signs that things are getting better.”

See also:

Gazette, 11/17/07: “Sunderland zoners take dim view of project”
“…members of the zoning board offered personal opinions for the first time…their comments made clear they are solidly against the [150-unit] Sugarbush Meadows complex Amherst developer Scott Nielsen proposes to build off Plumtree Road…

“James Williams Jr.: …’I believe the project has an overwhelmingly more negative than positive impact on the community…’

“Todd Nuerminger: …expressed concerns regarding the impact on schools and cited conservation issues over a wetlands buffer.

“Steven Krol: ‘…the project is just too big. An 8.9 percent increase for a small town is a big number.'”

The Republican: “Home sales decline in region”
September home sales fell 10 percent across Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties, while the median price slipped 1.2 percent to $205,000… [Source: Realtor Association of Pioneer Valley]

Boston Herald: “Bay state home sales in dramatic sept. slide”, 10/23/07
The number of condos changing hands fell 19.6 percent, while median condo prices dropped 3 percent to $260,000 – the lowest level seen since March 2005…

Wellesley College economist Karl Case said the resulting sales declines show “that the credit crunch is going to have an impact on the housing market.”

Boston Herald: “Bay State home, condo sales drop again”, 10/22/07
Market tracker The Warren Group reported today that median Bay State house prices last month fell 4.27 percent from year-earlier levels to $304,000.

That’s a 3-year low.

Warren also said the number of houses changing hands declined 18.7 percent from a year ago – the biggest year-over-year drop-off since September 2006.