High rents leaving beloved local businesses Priced Out of Boston area

BOSTON — We all have a favorite neighborhood main-stay, that "go-to spot" you take friends and family when they're in town. But many of them are now disappearing.

Durgin Park, Doyles, and Out of Town News are some of the latest local businesses closing their doors.

Boston 25 News reporter Crystal Haynes looks at how the Boston real estate market is driving the price for retail space up so high that it is changing the face of the city.

Storied Boston bar "Doyle's" in Jamaica Plain opened in 1882. It has been the site of parties for major politicians and movie scenes for Hollywood blockbusters. But co-owner Gerry Burke Jr. reportedly chose to close because the cost of real estate in Jamaica Plan is so high.

Locals say they are heartbroken, but not surprised.

"It's hard to see an institution go. Jamaica Plain is a changing place, I know, and I grew up here," said J.P. resident Will Rowland.

Boston's real estate market has proved too hot for many of the city’s landmark institutions including Redd's in Rozzie, Boston Common Coffee, and, after nearly 200 years in Faneuil Hall, Durgin Park.

Maria's Pastry Shop also joined that list this month after 49 years in the North End. Owner Maria Merola said the changing neighborhood is making it hard to find employees.

"They should've put in rent control…and keep everything affordable," Merola said. "When you cannot get any good assistants, any good help, you got to do everything yourself, yeah it is hard."

Real estate firm CBRE estimates there has been a steady 35-40% increase in asking rents over the past five years in the Boston area. Downtown Boston rents have increased by more than $30 per-square-foot during that same period.

And the cost of residential real estate is also driving up the cost of business.

"The people who work here are an essential part of making this business possible and if they can't afford to live in this area, then it's too bad. We’re not going to be able to keep this business going," said Cambridge Naturals owner Emily Canter.

According to the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, 75% of renters and 25% of owners are paying more than half their income for housing in Boston. In Cambridge and  Somerville, it's roughly the same.

"There were affordable places to live even in Cambridge and Somerville and the surrounding communities. It was pretty easy to walk to work. And now that's almost impossible for our employees to be close enough to walk or even take public transit within reasonable time frames," said Canter.

Renthop's annual 'Boston T' map breaks down rent prices by stop. The farther out you live from the city proper, the less expensive the rents gets. But that means your commute is even longer.

The tracking group Geotag found that only 13% of commuters can get to the city within 30 minutes in a car. And that number actually is even lower if you're using public transit.

A recent Mass. Inc. poll showed more than 32% of full-time workers living within Route 128 have considered moving away from the Boston area because of long commutes.

Business owners are concerned that as the employee pool dwindles so will some of the city's character.

"Independent businesses are central to the diverse fabric of a community and it's really what makes a city unique and interesting to live in. And so when those businesses close, it becomes not a great place to live anymore," said Canter.

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