All Boston Development Trends and Numbers You Need to Know at a Glance: BPDA Report


BOSTON–The Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) has released a new report by the agency’s Research Division analyzing economic and development trends in Boston since 1996.

The Report analyzes development trends in five sub-markets: housing, office, hotel, industrial, and institutional, while describing concurrent economic and demographic trends that may influence development.

Here are the key highlights:

Boston’s population has grown by approximately 93,000 since 2000. According to the BPDA’s Population Projection, the population is expected to increase to 760,000 by 2030, still slightly less than the high of 800,000 in 1950.

In 2017, there were 293,538 housing units in the City, of which 91% were occupied. Of occupied units, 35% were owner-occupied in 2017. In 2018, Boston updated its goal to 69,000 new units by 2030, based on a revised population projection of 760,000 and the city’s progress in constructing new housing.

Median monthly rent increased by 17% from 2006 to 2017, faster than median household income, which grew 14% in the same time period. Monthly ownership costs grew only 9%. The percentage households that are housing cost burdened (pay 30% or more of household income on housing costs) decreased from 49% in 2006 to 41% in 2017.

Office inventory in Boston has grown by 3.8 million square feet in the past 10 years. The Financial District accounts for 42 million square feet of office space. Office vacancy rates have fallen to less than 10 percent since a peak of 13 percent in 2011.

Office vacancy is currently at 9.9% in Boston, compared to 16.9% nationwide. Asking rent for office space is $52/sqft in Boston, compared to $36/sqft nationwide.

Boston has added almost 26,000 jobs in information, finance/insurance, professional and technical services, and management since 2001. Reebok, New Balance, and Amazon are among the companies that have opened or are soon to open new offices in the city.

2018 surpassed the record set by 2017 in office square footage approved, with 3.8 million square feet set to be built.

Industrial space in Boston has declined 18 ercent since 1998. Industrial space in 1998 totaled 30.3 million square feet; inventory in 2018 totaled 24.8 million square feet. The Roxbury/Dorchester submarket has the largest inventory in Boston at 9.1 million SF.

Average industrial rent has increased 22 percent since 2011. The Brighton/Fenway submarket has the highest industrial rents in Boston, at $25 per square foot. Citywide vacancy rates have increased slightly since 2016 but are almost half the rate in 2005.

Since the recession, 2.7 million industrial square feet has been approved.

Universities and hospitals bring in billions of research dollars to the city’s economy. There are 21 in-patient hospitals with 6,021 beds as of 2017; 25 neighborhood health clinics. Most NIH funding of any U.S. city for 23 consecutive years, totaling $1.97 billion in 2017.

Employment in Boston hospitals has increased by 50% since 2001. College and university employment has increased by 36% over the same time period.

Student enrollment in Boston has grown 21 percent since 2004. There were 161,399 full and part time students enrolled in the city’s universities and colleges in 2016. In 2016: 1,106 dorm beds permitted, 624 beds added to existing stock, and 2,536 beds under construction or soon to be constructed.

Suffolk County received $8.8 billion in domestic travel expenditures (half of Massachusetts’s total) in 2016.  The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau projects visitors to Greater Boston to increase from 21.2 M in 2017 to 22.7 M in 2019.

As of March 2018, Boston had 85 licensed hotels, totaling 21,000 rooms. Average daily rate (a measure of average rental income per paid occupied room in a given year) has grown 20% since 2005.

Weekly average wages for Boston workers in the construction industry grew at an average annual rate of 0.9% between 2001 and 2017, compared to 0.7% for all industries. Rising wages and employment reflect the high demand for construction labor.

Click here to view the full report.