The Luxe Living Boston Blog
Diane Maloney | The Grande Dame of Boston Luxury Sails into Pier 4
Diane Maloney knows luxury. For over 30 years she’s been Boston’s leading on-site purveyor of luxury residential properties. With Boston’s luxury market firmly in high-gear she’s as busy as ever. These days she’s docked in The Seaport and marketing Boston’s latest luxury address – the Residences at Pier 4. Here she shares her luxury insights with One Boston.
In the Beginning…
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Well, my father was a Connecticut Yankee and my mother was a Southern Belle from New Orleans. A truly wonderful combination. They met in New York City and settled in Newton where I was born and raised. After I graduating from U-Mass Amherst I married an Air Force pilot.
We were first stationed in Alaska and then posted to Germany for 10 years enabling me to travel extensively throughout Europe.
In Germany I managed a social services program for Air Force wives which expanded educational opportunities to women which were previously limited exclusively to enlisted service men. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
After returning to the U.S. we lived in Florida for a few years. In 1982 I relocated back to Boston.
How did you get your start into on-site residential sales in Boston?
Quite by accident. Around 1985 and I applied for a public relations job. My resume included a brief on-site sales position in New Hampshire. I didn’t think anything of it. But it caught someone’s attention and I was offered an on-site preconstruction sales position at the original Four Seasons Residences in Boston. The rest is history.
What are some of the luxury developments you’ve sold?
There’s been so many. In addition to the Four Seasons I’ve sold The Belvidere, River Court, Trinity Place, FP3, 45 Province, Broadluxe. I marketed some smaller projects too like Minot Hall in the South End and Seton Highlands at Pinehills in Plymouth. Each was unique, but I always learned something new every time.
I have to say The Belvidere was very interesting. Dalton Street wasn’t considered a prime location back then. At first, there was no direct entrance into the Pru as there is now and the mall had no connection to the South End. I was selling the Belvidere when 9/11 happened and I didn’t sell a unit for 6 months. But the market rebounded by late Spring 2002 and we were fine. That building has done very well looking at resales. I’d say that was my favorite project until I started at here Pier 4.
Another interesting project was FP3 on Congress Street. FP3 was a trailblazer in terms of luxury product and design in The Seaport. It too has done very well in resales and I‘m especially fond of it because it launched my company, The Marketing Group of New England.
The Evolution of Luxury…
What was the state of Luxury in Boston When You Began?
Honestly, back in the ‘80’s it wasn’t great. The luxury market was very small with little demand. Back then, Boston’s high-end buyers were basically buying Back Bay townhouses.
How has the definition of luxury changed over the years?
It’s been elevated. Not only in terms of finishes but also building services, common spaces, and amenities. At Pier 4, for example, in additional to best-in-class service we also have a virtual golf room, and we don’t just have a traditionally equipped exercise room, but we also have a Pilates room. A luxury buyer’s level of expectation today is very high.
How have Luxury Buyers changed since you began your career?
They are much more receptive to full-service buildings. When I began at the Four Seasons we were challenged explaining the concept of full-service, especially to local Boston buyers. Boston just wasn’t a full-service town. Many of our sales were to New York and international buyers who knew what full-service luxury was all about. But that’s all changed. Today, Bostonians have fully embraced full-service luxury living.
What are the ‘must haves’ luxury buyers look for in new construction?
Parking is number one. What’s more, luxury buyers also want the option to choose between valet and self-park. Without question security is also very important. Other things on a luxury buyer’s check-list are good closet space, windows – preferably floor-to-ceiling, good light, floor plans that flow, quality high-end finishes, and a great amenity package.
In terms of amenities, luxury developers today have really stepped-up their game. I hear a lot of requests for a swimming pool these days. Very few luxury buildings have them. The Four Seasons had one, but it was shared with the hotel and that’s not ideal. 45 Province has a pool that’s exclusive to residents and it was a big selling point when I marketed that building. Anything to do with pets is always very high on any luxury buyer’s list – dog walking, grooming, bathing, you name it. Pets are part of the family and luxury buildings must cater to every member of the family – especially Rover. I understand that. I have a dog myself, Ruby, a rescue dog, who’s very smart and so loving.
What’s your best piece of advice to developers?
Do more pre-construction planning and be flexible. Many developers just don’t do enough planning. I understand that. They’re builders not marketers. But the old adage that if you build it they will come just doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s passé. Luxury buyers are smart and knowledgeable. They travel extensively and likely already own one or more full-service luxury properties.
I’m also a big advocate of focus groups. Never guess and don’t think you know it all. Find out what the customer wants and then build it. You need to build and price to the market. It’s not rocket science. But it is the key to success.
The Seaport – New & Exciting…
What’s drawing so many luxury buyers to the Seaport?
The newness and the youngness of it all. It’s alive with activity. New construction, new hotels, new restaurants and nightclubs, new parks, new theaters and many new retail stores opening all the time. We even have a beautiful new church. It’s all very exciting.
There are so many new companies relocating here too – law firms, tech companies – Amazon, for example. People want to be a part of something new. They want to live near where they work. Of course, the water is a big draw too. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets; cool breezes in the summer; and lots of activity on the water all year long. And let’s not forget the Seaport’s close proximity to the airport. You can take a water taxi and be at Logan, or home, in 15 minutes living at Pier 4.
Of course COVID has had an impact and the market has paused a bit but it’s a temporary pause. We’re still selling and have a few choice units left. I’m very bullish on The Seaport and luxury residential in Boston. Long-term both will be prove to be very good investments. I’m absolutely convinced of that.
Pier 4 – Boston’s New Luxury Address…
So tell us about Pier 4
Pier 4 is an iconic Boston location. Everyone knows Pier 4 because of the legendary restaurant. We have a total of 106 units. It’s an appropriate mix of one, two, three, and three-plus bedroom residences. Given the location it’s only natural that every unit has a balcony and every unit has a wonderful water view. Pier 4 is the only Seaport residence surrounded on three sides by water.
In addition to views, all units come with direct access to garage parking directly under the building. And there’s much more. Pier 4 will have 2 first-class restaurants, Woods Hill and Nautilus. There’s also a fabulous resident catering kitchen, grilling station and outdoor fire-pit lounge. It’s like living at a resort, yet you’re in the heart of a major city.
Finally, a big plus Pier 4 residents is the developer, Tishman-Speyer, which is a renowned international developer with over 75 years of construction experience.
And when it’s time to call it a day…
Favorite cocktail? I have two – a Vesper with a twist or a Belvidere martini with a twist.
Favorite vacation destination? The islands – especially St. Bart’s.
Your secret luxury? A fabulous massage at a fabulous spa on the beach in St. Bart’s. Followed by a fabulous martini, of course.