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Fitting home buyers’ lifestyles to a ‘T’: Brookline locale has great MBTA access
By Paul Restuccia
Friday, June 1, 2007 - Updated: 04:49 PM EST

Heather Ostrowski and her husband commute in different directions each weekday, but found a perfect place to buy a condo: Brookline’s Washington Square.
     “It’s a really convenient place, has all these trees and greenery - and it’s right on the T,” Ostrowski said of Washington Square, which draws buyers partly because two MBTA Green Line branches serve the neighborhood.
     Ostrowski and her husband paid some $700,000 for a two-bedroom, new-construction condo featuring a private balcony and two garage spaces - a real perk in Brookline, which bans overnight on-street parking.
     “This neighborhood has become our home, and we want to stay,” Ostrowski said. “It has a great mix of families, older residents, students - and there (is) a great spirit here.”
     A residential enclave between Coolidge Corner and Cleveland Circle, Washington Square runs along Beacon and Washington streets from the Brighton line to Brookline’s Putterham neighborhood.
     The square’s big draw: Two different MBTA Green Line branches service it.
    The C line connects Washington Square with downtown Boston, while the D branch runs across the Metrowest suburbs to Route 128.
     “You get a lot of young couples buying here (where one) works in town and the other out on Route 128,” said Geoff Cramer of Century 21 The Howard Group, whose office is in the square. “It’s a convenient commute for both.”
    That’s true for the Ostrowskis. She’s a downtown accountant, while her husband works as a cost analyst on Route 128.
    It’s also the true for Devorah Bitran and her husband, who recently bought a newly renovated, $545,000 two-bedroom condo that features expansive views and garage parking.
    Bitran works in Waltham as a college fundraiser, while her husband runs a hedge fund in town.
     “We wanted to get out of downtown,” said Bitran, who recently gave birth to her first child. “There’s more green out here.”
    Washington Square also attracts young professionals who work at the Longwood Medical area a few miles away.
     Lastly, buyers include downsizers like Jerry Camman, a 76-year-old retired dentist who’s lived on Beacon Street for a half century.
    Camman, who owns a nearby apartment building, recently bought a renovated one-bedroom condo for just $350,000, plus another $50,000 for an underground parking space.
    “I’ve always loved this area,” Camman said. “It feels like part of the city, but my neighbors are suburban.”
    Scott Goldsmith of Prudential Unlimited Realty said many buyers appreciate such “suburban living with an urban feel.”
    “The area is a little further out than Coolidge Corner, but it’s more affordable and not as congested,” Goldsmith said. “It has more breathing room.”
     Washington Square began its life as farmland, with colonists laying out what’s now Washington Street in 1657 to carry cattle from Brookline Village to Brighton’s stockyards.
    After Beacon Street opened in 1851, the neighborhood’s Summit Hill and Corey Hill began to host large summer estates.
    Next came stately apartment buildings like the Stoneholm, which still offers rental units today.
    Other apartment buildings have gone or are going condo.
    For instance, developer Jeff Feueman is currently converting The Warwick - a 1920s apartment building on Beacon Street - into 66 condos, 23 of which are still available. A typical renovated one-bedroom unit there offers a granite kitchen and marble-floored bathroom and costs $365,000.
    Nearby, developer Nordic Properties recently rehabbed a 1960s apartment building into 125 stylish condos. Nordic’s Steve Logan said 80 percent of buyers have been people in their 20s and 30s.
     “With the lobby upgrade, the finishes and the fitness center, we really targeted this project to young professionals,” he said. “This is a good location in a good solid town; (the building) just needed some upgrading.”
     Developers are also converting former brownstone apartments into condos that start below $300,000 for small units and run to $700,000 for large, high-end spaces.
    Or, buyers with $1 million or more can purchase one of the neighborhood’s gracious single-family houses. Ranging from Victorians to Comtemporaries, these homes sit on tree-lined streets layered along Washington Square’s hills.
    David Schech-ner and his wife have lived in one such home for 40 years, but are downsizing nearby and have listed the four-bedroom for sale at $1.2 million.
    Schechner, a retired engineer, designed and helped build the split-level hillside home.
    “It’s like the country out here, (but) it’s only a few miles from Boston,” he said. “It’s a great commuting location.”
    “Get Moving” profiles a different Greater Boston locale on the first Friday of each month. Check out our next neighborhood profile on Friday, July 6.

    By the Numbers
    Here’s a look at who lives in the 02445 ZIP code, which includes Brookline’s Washington Square and the surrounding neighborhood. Figures are from the 2000 census:
  • Population: 26,262
  • Median age: 36.5
  • Median household income: $73,197
  • Owner-occupied units: 58.5 percent
  • Renter-occupied units: 41.5 percent
  • Adults with high-school education or higher: 96.5 percent
  • Adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher: 75.2 percent
  • Married people: 45.4 percent

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  • Condo buyers Heather and Paul Ostrowski say Brookline’s Washington Square offers great green space and easy commutes via the two nearby MBTA lines. (Staff photo by John Wilcox)
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    bh.heraldinteractive.com: business.heraldinteractive.com: 0.087457:Fri, 01 Jun 2007 20:49:49 GMT