This Week in Boston Real Estate: Investor destinations, casino plans and more

by Andrew Morrell

Boston named a top city for global growth, investment

Boston’s high real estate prices are the source of concern for many residents, politicians and business leaders alike. To ultra-wealthy investors, though, Boston may look like a steal in the global market for luxury property, commercial real estate and other alternative investments. According to the 2019 Wealth Report from international real estate broker Knight Frank, Boston is among one of five cities globally where investment opportunities abound in the property market. Compared to the New York and San Francisco areas, Boston attracted a considerable amount of venture capital investment recently: around $24.5 billion between 2015 and 2017. Fueling those capital flows is the usual factors that make Boston a national and global standout: top-ranked universities, offices for prominent businesses and a generally wealthy population. Knight Frank expects the number of Boston residents considered “ultra-high net worth” (at least $30 million in assets) will grow 15 percent in the next five years. Other cities in league with Boston in terms of wealth growth include Bengaluru, India, Hangzhou, China, Stockholm and Cambridge in the U.K.

State growth expected to mirror national outlook

A panel of economists in conjunction with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released its newest statewide economic outlook March 4 that found cause for concern despite consistently strong growth. The report from MassBenchmarks, titled “Caution is the watchword,” argued that the state’s economy was operating near full capacity to start the year, with fundamental indicators like employment and income all solid. Still, as in the U.S. overall, the authors warned of several minor risks on the horizon, none of which are expected to pose a catastrophic threat but which cloud the view ahead for Massachusetts. “Notwithstanding the Commonwealth’s strong recovery from the Great Recession, it is a truism that downside risks to the economy grow as economic activity peaks,” MassBenchmarks said in its report. “Accordingly, our consensus view in light of a growing number of emerging risks and economic and political uncertainties is that caution is the watchword.”

Future of Encore Boston Harbor still unclear

One of Boston’s biggest real estate projects of late, the $2.6 billion casino dubbed Encore Boston Harbor, is slated to open for business in less than 15 weeks. However, according to the Boston Globe, it’s not clear whether that date will hold firm, as the casino’s operator still hasn’t been approved for a gambling license by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. At issue is the former executive of the casino’s operator, the prolific investor Steve Wynn, who resigned from Wynn Resorts last year after allegations of sexual misconduct. As a result of those claims, it’s possible that the state’s gambling commission could deny a license to operate the casino due to laws that hold a casino business’s leadership to a high ethical standard. Already, Nevada’s gambling authority fined Wynn Resorts $20 million for its alleged failure to investigate longstanding claims against its former owner and namesake, however it was allowed to continue operating in the state. If the company loses its license in Massachusetts, the massive development surrounding Encore Boston Harbor could be in jeopardy.

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