Damian Szary a Chelsea native and principal at Gate Residential Properties said the average annual household income of his tenants at One North is “significantly higher” than Chelsea’s median of around $49,000.
“We’re the most expensive building in Chelsea, but . . . most of our residents are coming from Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, and they’ve been priced out of those apartments,” Szary said. “We did design it in terms of look and feel to attract the millennial demographic. They don’t have the same stigma that the older generation has about Chelsea.”
“When you bring higher-level incomes into a community like Chelsea, other retailers notice and follow suit,” he said. “That’s kind of what’s happening right now. You’re seeing retail, new restaurants planned, old restaurants are expanding.”
Girvan, originally from New Jersey, said she was warned by McKinney, who grew up in the area, that Chelsea “was rough around the edges.” But she said that since moving in a year ago she has not felt unsafe in the city. The couple are regulars at Ciao! Pizza and Pasta and at Mystic Brewery, where they have gotten to know people in the neighborhood.
They also credit the doggy daycare, which they use for their two black beagle-Labrador mix pups Thor and Zeus, for helping them meet their neighbors. It helps that the average age of tenants at One North is 28.
“Everyone is within the same stage of life so we relate to each other a lot more,” McKinney, 25, said. “A lot of my friends in the building work in the restaurant service industry, one gentleman was a driver for Uber, it’s a wide representation of different walks of life, not all businessmen and lawyers, which is great because you get a lot of perspectives on things.”
The friendships with other dog owners, the amenities and proximity to the commuter rail stop, and the pending Silver Line extension into the city make living in Chelsea’s most expensive rental development worth it. McKinney and Girvan have renewed the lease in their $2,000-a-month one-bedroom through at least 2018.
A dog lover himself, Szary gambled that the convenience of an on-site doggy day-care facility, in addition to standard luxury amenities like hot tubs, game rooms, and fire pits, would be key in attracting young professionals to Chelsea. One North charges $50 a month per dog, and $35 for each cat. It reserves the right to restrict so-called aggressive breeds and limits dogs to two per unit. The daycare is an additional $19 a day.
“It was a sector of demand that people weren’t catering too,” Szary said. “We wanted to take it to a different level where we wanted to provide a service to not only help our residents but help us retain our residents. And it has.”
One North of Boston also features a DNA tracking service to test and match abandoned dog waste to hold owners accountable. The first two offenses carry fines, while a third could lead to an eviction. Several residents said they welcomed the program.
Since opening its first building on 100 Heard St. in 2014, One North has retained 62 percent of its tenants. There are about 90 dogs living in the 230-unit building with rents starting out at around $2,000 for a 1-bedroom; $2,400 for a two-bedroom; and $3,100 for a three-bedroom. Units with dens and balconies rent for hundreds more.
A second building, with 222 units, opened for occupancy in July and features an indoor basketball court, spinning studio, hot tub, and bigger outdoor pool.
Among the new tenants is Chris Letourneau, who moved from his one-bedroom at the first One North building where he’d been for a year, to a bigger one-bedroom in the new building. The 25-year-old said the on-site dog daycare has been a lifesaver for him and his girlfriend, who both work full time. The $19 a day they spend to leave Benny, their nine-month-old, 70-pound golden retriever, at the daycare for about 10 hours is a bargain, he said.
When Benny was neutered a couple of weeks ago and had to stay away from other dogs, Letourneau gave the day-care staff a key to his apartment so they could walk him separately.
“It’s easier to own a dog here than anywhere else,” Letourneau said. “And when you have a puppy that’s barking at night, the people next door to you aren’t too mad at you.”