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BOSTON-Blaming the shifting tide in the housing arena, a planned condominium complex just being completed in the Charlestown Navy Yard will convert to an apartment property, lead developer Trammell Crow Residential has said. Besides 26,000 sf of street-level retail, HarborView has 224 residential units, offering a mix of studio, one- and two-bedrooms.

“With mortgage markets tightening nationwide and local housing sales continuing their slowdown, we determined that the best direction is to reposition the property as an upscale rental building,” TCR principal Joseph Torg says in a release. The broker who had been marketing the units has a radically different take, however.

Kevin Ahearn claims the project was well-received and could have succeeded as a condominium. “The ownership was never, in my opinion, in agreement on what they wanted to do,” says Ahearn, president of Boston-based Otis & Ahearn, one of the top luxury condo brokers in Massachusetts. “They just couldn’t get on the same page.”

Despite an unquestioned hiccup in the housing sector, Ahearn insists that Boston “is cooking” in terms of luxury condo sales, rattling off data that indicates median and overall prices in the city are up year-to-date, as well as the sale of units above $1 million. The change by TCR “is certainly not demonstrative of the overall market,” says Ahearn.

But that is precisely the reason for going to apartments, counters TCR spokesman James Borghesani. “That’s his opinion, but the fact is, the market dictated the decision by Trammell Crow,” Borghesani tells GlobeSt.com, adding, “they feel this is the right move at the right time.” Borghesani would not discuss suggestions that there may have been a clash of philosophies between TCR and its partner, developer Martin Oliner, who had gained control of the site prior to TCR’s involvement. Efforts to contact Oliner by press deadline were unsuccessful.

Located at the northern tip of the shipyard, HarborView was designed by Elkus/Manfredi Architects, a Boston firm experienced in luxury residential. Torg says the elements incorporated into the project should help reap top rents. HarborView units feature cherry hardwood floors, marble baths and state-of-the-art kitchens replete with European-inspired cabinetry, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Many units also have balconies or terraces. Underground parking is seen as another plus, as is a rooftop deck and community room.

Besides the amenities, Torg says he believes renters will be attracted by the location on a 2.6-acre parcel abutting Boston Harbor. The complex is also situated next to a new park and landscaped stretch of the evolving HarborWalk, as well as a water taxi dock accessing downtown Boston and Logan International Airport. While no longer involved in the venture, Ahearn is in agreement that HarborView is a desired address, praising the architect and contractor Turner Construction for the final outcome. “They built a gorgeous asset,” he says. The project was the latest in a 30-year process by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to recast Charlestown’s working port into business, research and residential uses.

Whether Boston’s upscale residential market is thriving may be open to debate, but the multi-family industry nationally is being impacted by the sub-prime situation, as indicated by an article in this week’s Debt & Equity Journal produced by GlobeSt.com. In that story, Torto Wheaton Research Corp. Senior Economist Gleb Nechayev says many condominium owners are offering their units to apartment renters, possibly impacting pricing if inventory swells. That “shadow pipeline” is beyond the properties such as HarborView that are openly offering units to renters.

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