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The 2024 Olympics Bid and Boston Real Estate

by Steven Cohen

 

 

 

 

Now officially on the United States Olympic Committee's "short list" of possible 2024 host candidates, Boston's once improbable prospects seem a bit more realistic. What would an Olympics bid mean for the city's real estate?

The obvious impact on Boston's real estate market should our potential bid to host the 2024 Olympic eventuate is twofold.

In the short-term, we would benefit from the stimulus generated by the construction of Olympic facilities and the enhancement of our regional infrastructure. Thousands of Bostonians stand to reap the rewards associated with the largest Airbnb bonanza to hit our shores.

In the long-term, being the top of mind metropolis in the media for the better part of an election cycle could positively impact our prospects for attracting foreign investment.

However, it is not clear whether these benefits in and of themselves outweigh the enormous costs, inconvenience and risk associated with producing an Olympics in the modern day.

The less obvious impact involves some wishful thinking on my part as to the transformational effect unprecedented and prolonged attention on the world stage could have on our mentality and our identity as a city.

To get something in life, you often have to give something up. So let's put it right out there - we are a charming, brainy, and dynamic city. We are also mired in our past. Our provincial mentality can hold us back from hitting the big time.

Many of us like being the small big city that punches above its weight. We revel in the idea of featuring small-town charm garnished with a few world-class institutions. We are comforted by our traditions, our conventions.

It is not lost on me that we have some great condo towers in the planning stages and every empty nester west of Massachusetts Avenue is competing with the stroller set for downtown housing. We must be doing something right.

But imagine a Boston with buildings that look like they are in Dubai, and brownstone owners can pop a roof deck on their property in a weekend. Where we don't hold endless meetings to decide if a building should be 60 feet or 80 feet tall, when it ought to be at least 180!

These and other changes are my dream for a Boston that hosts an Olympics, and sheds its skin. With its architectural past preserved and respected, the city and its residents can embrace meaningful change going forward.

Too much to ask for from hosting an Olympics? Then I will settle for some international celebrity paying me a fortune to rent my house for a few weeks, for tickets to the final free skate competition, and for the chance to live in the city I love when the Olympic torch is passed on.

 

 


 

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