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Why Are These Prime Boston Properties Sitting Vacant?

Even though they often occupy valuable real estate, some Boston properties have sat vacant in various states of limbo for years.
July 2, 2019, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Hotel Alexandra, closed since the 1970s.

"All over town, buildings sit empty, somehow unused despite a fierce shortage of housing and a long-running development boom that has transformed long-quiet patches of the city into hot property," Tim Logan writes. Here, Logan looks at the stories behind several major examples, like Hotel Alexandra on Massachusetts Avenue and the J.R. Alley Brewery in Mission Hill. 

The question of why these buildings remain in a vacant state for so long usually boils down to one of three reasons. In the case of small apartment complexes and old storefronts, there's often a family dispute among inheritors. In other cases, outstanding lawsuits or permitting problems prohibit redevelopment. Other times, the problem is economic: either an owner is waiting around for prices to rise before selling, or wants to redevelop but can't justify the cost.

In the end, though, Boston's overall number of vacant and troubled properties is declining. "Since 1997, the city has tracked so-called distressed buildings — vacant properties with code violations — and by 2015 that number had fallen 80 percent, as empty storefronts and three-deckers were brought back to life," Logan writes. 

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Published on Monday, June 17, 2019 in The Boston Globe
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