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Corbin Plaza condos could become apartments

July 5, 2011 – A Marlborough real estate project could be the victim of the struggling condominium market, but its Newton owner is trying his hardest to save the development.

Stas Burdan purchased the four-story former Howe Shoe Factory in downtown Marlborough last year for $360,000 with plans to turn it into 17 condominium units at a cost of $2.5 million.

But Burdan has had trouble finding financing for the project due to the lagging condominium market.

So Burdan has asked the Marlborough City Council for permission to rent out the units instead of selling them. With the rental market thriving, he’s hoping the move will be enough to get the project financed and built.

Slumping Sales
While the housing market is depressed overall, the condo market has been particularly hard hit.

The Boston-based Warren Group recently reported that condominium sales were down 38 percent year-over-year in May. Sales were down 30 percent year-to-date.

Meanwhile, single-family home sales are not much rosier with a 25 percent year-over-year drop.

Burdan said the depressed statistics for condominium sales have turned off investors who are willing to work with him on the redevelopment of what has been referred to as Corbin Plaza, which is located at 110 Pleasant St. in Marlborough. But he’s hoping the switch from a condo to an apartment model will spark some interest.

It’s not just the Corbin Plaza project that has been retooled given current market conditions. Burdan also developed the St. Mary’s Condominiums, a 36-unit project on Broad Street in Marlborough.

Twenty five of the 36 units have been sold, but the remaining 11 have been slower to move. To get them occupied and start creating cash flow, he began renting out four of the units. Meanwhile, the rest of the units remain for sale.

Burdan is hoping he can follow a similar strategy with the Howe Shoe Factory development by renting it out at first, then, once the market recovers, sell the units as condominiums.

“I’m confident the condo market will come back,” he said. “We also believe in Marlborough and this development.”

Burdan said if the Marlborough City Council approves the switch to allow him to rent the units, which could be done by August, then he expects it would still likely take a few months to find financing. Once that is done, construction would take about a year.

“I still believe this project is doable,” he said. “I just need to find a banker that agrees with me.”

This story originally appeared here