Why Should I Purchase And Remodel A Home In Somerville, MA?
Looking to purchase or remodel a home in Somerville, Massachusetts?
Here’s our take:
Middlesex County in Massachusetts is home to the town of Somerville, a long-standing suburb of Boston with a population of 80,000. Cambridge is directly south of Somerville and the two towns are rivals in all things sports. Somerville is a city of 4.11 square miles and 81,360 people as of 2019 — making it New England’s most densely populated Municipality. Despite this, it’s beautiful and does not look or feel crowded.
Somerville was originally settled in 1629. Its first record of European occupation was a man named John Woolrich, a known Native American Trader who arrived in 1630 and settled near what is now Dane Street. The city grew slowly and nearly 150 years later, Somerville had approximately 500 settlers. As a town proper, Somerville was formally established in the mid 1800s when it separated from Charlestown.
A city built around Tufts
Somerville houses Tufts University — which in part helps define Somerville’s culture and vibe.
Present day Somerville is home to the prestigious Tufts University (my alma mater), which has an enrollment surpassing 10,000 and is of national and international renown as an educational institution. The Tufts campus spans both Somerville and Medford and has 10 schools across the Greater Boston Area, as well as a presence in Talloires, France. Tufts is widely considered to be a highly selective school — only 15% of its applications were admitted in 2020.
The Tufts campus is quintessential New England, both striking and extremely aesthetic. You’ll find yourself amongst a mixture of brick, white columns, and beautiful architecture, with sprawling green lawns and multiple tennis courts and sports fields. It’s stunning in the spring with cherry trees blossoming amongst explosions of color, and mesmerizing again in the fall when the leaves begin to change. You absolutely know you are in New England and this is its tangible beauty.
Tufts students bring a vibe to Somerville which helps to shape the ethos of this town. Many of the students live in Somerville, which lends a dynamic and cultured vibe to the area, its quality of life, services, and nightlife.
Tufts has the country’s oldest graduate school of international relations in the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and has graduated alumni who have gone on to be Nobel Laureates, heads of state, governors, and senators. Its alumni have won both Emmy and Academy Awards and include:
- • Tracy Chapman
- • Jessica Biel
- • Zerlina Maxwell
- • Ameesha Patel
- • Erica Yuen
- • Shukri Ghanem (former Prime Minister of Libya)
- • Kostas Karamanlis (former Prime Minister of Greece)
- • Juan Manuel Santos (the previous President of Colombia and winner of the Nobel Prize)
- • Malatu Teshome (former President of Ethiopia)
Notable alumni also include a number of distinguished US congressmen, diplomats, judges, attorneys, and other foreign officials.
Somerville has a rich cultural history — truly at the epicenter of the birth of this nation. Somerville was a part of Paul Revere’s ride and the Freedom Trail, and the first Grand Union Flag of the American Colonies was raised on Prospect Hill in Somerville on January 1st, 1776.
Somerville was forged on the hard work of its residents. Brickmaking and meatpacking were major industries for decades, as was motorcar assembly when Ford Motor Company established one of its initial factories in 1926 in what is now Assembly Square.
Architecture in Somerville:
Four of the predominant styles of architecture that can be found in Somerville are:
- • Federal
- • Greek Revival
- • Italianate
- • Queen Annie
This makes for a stately, dignified, and homey style. There are many free-standing multi-family homes in these styles, branding Somerville as very distinctly New England.
Added to this are the multiple ongoing condo developments — with a number of cranes rising on the skyline. You can feel the city pushing forward, expanding, and developing progressively. It has come a very long way from my childhood visits in the 1990s.
Art & Cultural Hotspots in Somerville:
Somerville now has multiple hotspots. Here are some of our favorites:
Davis Square is one of the most desirable areas to live in Somerville. It’s home to a number of iconic and delicious restaurants, such as the Rosebud American Kitchen and Bar. Rosebud offers truly amazing American food, as well as international cuisine, a standout brunch, delicious meals, and pies that you will want to take home with you. The Rosebud was built in 1941 and was family owned for decades. It is now owned and operated by Mr. Martin Bloom, the founder of Vinny Testas and owner of the Mission Oak Grill. We are talking about serious Boston food culture and heritage here with over 1,000 Google Reviews.
Davis Square is less than a mile from the Tufts campus and is a hotspot for students, graduate students, and faculty alike. Amazing coffee and breakfast are available at the Oat Shop — Boston’s first oatmeal cafe. Not only is their menu gluten-free friendly, but they have an abundance of both dairy-free and vegan options.
Davis Square is home to quality shopping and many exceptional restaurants and eateries, including the Painted Burro for truly Classic Mexican food and JP Licks for ice cream, coffee, and yogurt indulgence.
The Burren Irish Pub is in Davis Square and has made the list of the top 21 Irish Pubs in the United States. It is a lively, European-style pub with a wide selection of drinks, delicious food, and live music seven days a week.
Somerville Theatre is an iconic movie theatre that is over 100 years old — it shows contemporary films as well as classic films on 35mm. The main theatre interior is beautiful with art deco architecture, painted ceilings, balconies, and red-curtain decor.
Two miles away via Elm Street and Somerville Ave lies Union Square.
There is considerable ongoing construction in Union Square — with multiple Condo developments ongoing and the Green Line Initiative from the MBTA, which will bring a Green Line stop to Union Square in 2021.
If one is hungry, the first stop has to be Union Square Donuts, voted Best of Boston in 2013, 2015, and 2017 for their truly amazing artisan donuts that are hand-made from scratch each day.
There have been several major Condo developments recently, including 197 Union Square as a major luxury condo development that was completed in 2016. 197 Union Square is home to 30 luxury condos in the range of $700-800,000 for a 2 bedroom. This project was the first of its kind and a definitive move towards the gentrification of Union Square which has bolstered the area’s real estate value.
The Independent restaurant and pub is exceptional and has been there for over 18 years.
One mile away lies the Winter Hill neighborhood, former stomping grounds of gangster Whitey Bulger and now a vibrant, up-and-coming neighborhood.
In Winter Hill you will find family homes, new developments, delicious eateries, and a microbrewing company by the name of Winter Hill Brewery. The Brewery also offers a full espresso bar and amazing pour over coffee with fresh pastries and baked goods.
Continue another mile towards the Mystic River and you have Assembly Square, one of the hippest, most vibrant parts of Somerville.
Assembly Square is named after the Ford Motor Industries iconic automotive plant that was originally established here for the assembly of Ford cars and trucks between 1927 and 1950. It’s directly on the Mystic River and is now a vibrant, thriving, upscale community space.
Assembly Row is the central development and neighborhood destination in the area — a crown jewel of Somerville development spanning 45 acres which broke ground in 2012. This urban hotspot right on the Mystic River now contains entertainment, fine dining, shops, movie theatres, Luxury apartments, and Condos. It has retail ranging from brands Adidas, Ann Taylor, Saks Off Fifth, and Lucky Brand, to the conveniences of Trader Joes, Starbucks, and Bed, Bath and Beyond, and a new Imax Movie Theatre. Luxury apartments exist in the Avalon, and there are hotels going up as well. The Row Hotel at Assembly Row houses 158 rooms, as well as 8 floors of beautiful condos.
Located on the Mystic near Assembly Square, Draw 7 Park offers 9 acres of sports fields, picnic areas, and paved running/walking paths.
There is an Assembly Square stop on the Orange Line which runs into Boston.
Transportation in Somerville
There are two main T stops in Somerville. The first is at Davis Square on the Red Line (College Ave and Elm Street) as well as at Assembly Square (499 Foley Street) on the Orange Line. You are looking at about a 21-min train ride from the Davis T stop into Boston and about 14 mins from Assembly Square by train.
Services and amenities in Somerville are easily accessed on foot. It’s a city easily walked and it is a beautiful experience to do so. Cycling is also extremely popular and sales and usage have both surged of late. Somerville is one of the leading cycling cities in the United States with designated bike lanes, a community path, and a Somerville Bicycle Committee which intends to increase the number of Somerville residents cycling each day to over 15% (they had it at 8% in 2016 and I’m sure it’s been rising since). Amsterdam and Copenhagen have by comparison 30-40% of their population cycling.
The Somerville Community Path is a multi-use path which runs nearly a mile from Alewife Linear Park to Lowell Street via Davis Square. With exercise equipment and art installations along the way, you can walk, run, or cycle. Additionally, a beautiful new green cycling lane now exists along Beacon Street in Somerville.
Somerville Real Estate
Somerville real estate values are off the charts, with properties having increased nearly 200% since the year 2000 and rising roughly 5.6% per year.
The Median home value in Somerville is in the range of $775,535.
When looking to purchase a home in Somerville, I would recommend reaching out to one of the following offices:
- • Sothebys
- • Keller Williams Realty
- • Compass
- • Berkshire Hathaway
- • Coldwell Banker Residential
- • Hammond Residential Real Estate
- • Redfin Corporation
- • Bowes
- • Advisors Living
Schools in Somerville:
- • Bright Future Educare Center
- • Full Circle High School
- • Capuano Early CC
- • Somerville High School
- • Benjamin G. Brown
- • Next Wave Junior High School
- • E. Somerville Community
- • Albert F. Argenziano
- • John F. Kennedy
- • W. Somerville
- • Arthur D. Healey
- • Winter Hill Community Innovation School
Mayor of Somerville
The Mayor of Somerville is Mr. Joseph A. Curtatone. Mr. Curtatone is a Democrat who was born and raised in Somerville and at age 37 was elected to the position of Somerville Mayor in 2004.
He has been at the Somerville helm since this time and is clearly taking the city in a positive and vibrant direction with multiple new developments, increased prosperity, and a people-centric approach to city planning. I find him frank, intelligent, and likeable. Mr. Curtatone previously practiced law privately and is a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Remodeling Trends in Somerville:
Design-Bid-Build is the process which has been introduced over the past 150 years or so whereby you hire an architect to draft plans and design your project. You then have it bid out to contractors seeking to perform the project.
This approach has many liabilities for the client due in no small part to the fragmented spheres of responsibilities. There is no single person or entity fully accountable to the client for the entire project’s success. Thus you can have impractical and expensive design work, impractical planning, numerous change orders, shoddy craftsmanship, and projects which are off timeline and over budget. In the end, the client can be left damaged. You may have experienced this in the past.
Design-Build is clearly the way to go if you want to save on time and money, reduce stress, and eliminate a fragmented sense of project responsibility in the people working for you.
Design-Build is turned to by professionals, families, and individuals as the cutting edge of efficiency, aesthetics, practicality, and accountability when it comes to designing and remodeling a home. This approach packages architectural and interior design services with highly-skilled building and remodeling services.
This natural synthesis makes for a simple, efficient, and accountable creative process and a streamlined and responsible execution process, reducing cost, time of execution and client stress throughout. You’ll only work with one fully accountable firm.
At New England Design & Construction, we do Design-Build. Here are several examples of beautiful Design-Build remodels we have done in Somerville, Massachusetts:
Somerville is a vibrant and rapidly-appreciating real estate market with a warm community-centric environment and strong, caring leadership under Mayor Curtatone. It is a place I would be personally proud to raise a family and call home.