ACC/NU Residence Hall | 840 Columbus Ave | Northeastern University

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
496
Reaction score
519
Northeastern owns the land but ACC owns the buildings. ACC pays full property tax on the building which is passed along to the tenants.
How does one end up paying property taxes for land one doesn’t own? Especially if the land is owned by an institution that doesn’t pay property tax at all?
 

HelloBostonHi

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
1,024
Reaction score
1,605
How does one end up paying property taxes for land one doesn’t own? Especially if the land is owned by an institution that doesn’t pay property tax at all?
Because property tax is based on both the property and the land. The property is privately owned by a for profit company, even if the land isn't.
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
496
Reaction score
519
Because property tax is based on both the property and the land. The property is privately owned by a for profit company, even if the land isn't.
Wild. What’s in it for NU for keeping the land then? Unless Lightview will be demolished at some point, they’ll never be able to use it.
 

stellarfun

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2006
Messages
5,133
Reaction score
428
How does one end up paying property taxes for land one doesn’t own? Especially if the land is owned by an institution that doesn’t pay property tax at all?
The property taxes would be on the improvement, in this instance a building. Property taxes typically are based on the value of two components: the land, and improvements (buildings, structures. In this instance, the land is tax-free, the building, owned by a private party, is taxed.. If NU were to build a commercial building on the land, both land and building would be taxed, as the commercial building is unrelated to the function of the university.
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
496
Reaction score
519
The property taxes would be on the improvement, in this instance a building. Property taxes typically are based on the value of two components: the land, and improvements (buildings, structures. In this instance, the land is tax-free, the building, owned by a private party, is taxed.. If NU were to build a commercial building on the land, both land and building would be taxed, as the commercial building is unrelated to the function of the university.
If Northeastern had built the dorm itself, though, there wouldn’t be any improvement tax? It also sound like (at the very least) the property taxes payed by Lightview are much less than those payed by luxury towers elsewhere in the city if the land is tax free. Diminishes the “it needs to be just as expensive” argument.
 

KentXie

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
4,035
Reaction score
265
Here's the breakdown of the most recent rate for NU's dorm:

Keep in mind, these rates are per semester and each semester is equivalent to 4 months. At the minimum, the cheapest option is more than $1000/mo. except the Triple Bedroom. When I lived in an Enhanced Studio in West Village E (something I was able to do for 1 year thanks to saving up my co-op money), the rate was ~$6,000. In a span of 8 years, Northeastern has increased the rate by nearly $2,000 per semester. You want to know why rent continues to go up in neighboring areas? You can blame Northeastern, for building dorms that are incredibly expensive to rent and raising the rate at the low end, driving students to rent in the surrounding neighborhoods. The gap between the rent you pay on campus and what you pay off campus has only widen since the early 2010s and until the gap is narrows, students will continue to move off campus and supply-side will do nothing to solve it because the moment NU can't fill those luxury dorms as a result of not having enough students being able to afford them, that's the moment they stop building dorms.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,405
Reaction score
759
PSA: The Boston Assessing website is your friend. It's SUPER easy to look up the owner and property tax status of any parcel in the City. You can pull up a map and just click away.

Here's the parcel in question:
The parcel is considered "Residential/Commercial" taxable real estate, owned by Northeastern University with tax bills sent to ACC in Alabama. FY2021 net taxes are $1,158,657.56. Taxes are due on total assessed value (including land and buildings) and payed at a blended rate that includes $10.67 per thousand for residential and $24.55 per thousand for commercial.

In some situations (e.g., condominiums) you do see parcels broken out between multiple owners and between land and improvements, and taxed separately. But that's not the case here. It appears to be taxed like any other apartment tower.
 

KentXie

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
4,035
Reaction score
265
If Northeastern had built the dorm itself, though, there wouldn’t be any improvement tax? It also sound like (at the very least) the property taxes payed by Lightview are much less than those payed by luxury towers elsewhere in the city if the land is tax free. Diminishes the “it needs to be just as expensive” argument.
Most likely, the reason Northeastern didn't build the dorm themselves is because they have maxed out their credit line so they have a 3rd party pay for the construction of the dorm and they just rent from them. I believe that was how East Village was built which they also don't own.
 

KentXie

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
4,035
Reaction score
265
Wild. What’s in it for NU for keeping the land then? Unless Lightview will be demolished at some point, they’ll never be able to use it.
I think at one point, NU is given the option to purchase the building (at least this is the case for East Village), when their credit line frees up and can do so. Hence why they want to keep the land.
 

TomOfBoston

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2007
Messages
991
Reaction score
138
I think at one point, NU is given the option to purchase the building (at least this is the case for East Village), when their credit line frees up and can do so. Hence why they want to keep the land.
Also by owning the land Northeastern has the power to require certain things from ACC, such as only renting to Northeastern students (or students at neighboring institutions if needed).
 

TomOfBoston

Active Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2007
Messages
991
Reaction score
138
PSA: The Boston Assessing website is your friend. It's SUPER easy to look up the owner and property tax status of any parcel in the City. You can pull up a map and just click away.

Here's the parcel in question:
The parcel is considered "Residential/Commercial" taxable real estate, owned by Northeastern University with tax bills sent to ACC in Alabama. FY2021 net taxes are $1,158,657.56. Taxes are due on total assessed value (including land and buildings) and payed at a blended rate that includes $10.67 per thousand for residential and $24.55 per thousand for commercial.

In some situations (e.g., condominiums) you do see parcels broken out between multiple owners and between land and improvements, and taxed separately. But that's not the case here. It appears to be taxed like any other apartment tower.
So with 200 apartments in Lightview that comes to about $6000 tax per apartment per year. That is $500/month tax. With usually 4 students per apartment that is $125 per student/month.
 

Zash

Active Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2019
Messages
115
Reaction score
253
According to this Facebook post by the Boston Socialist Alternative, Janey's office is listed as a supporter of the dorm now, though I can't seem to find evidence for that.

This is somewhat what of a tangent, but NEU recently updated all their signange and banners to be 2021 focused (both for graduation and the upcoming school year, I would assume).

Something interesting I noticed on all of them is that they all say "Mayor Janey" on them somewhere. And my memory could be failing me, but I don't remember the old signs mentioning the mayor anywhere.

I can't help but wonder if this is NEU's not-so-subtle way of trying to establish a better relationship with Janey, albeit a very, very, minor detail.
 

cden4

Senior Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2007
Messages
1,212
Reaction score
179
Clearly the fact enough students are choosing to live off campus rather than pay for these luxury dorms that it's causing rent to increase in the surrounding area show that, yes the average student does go to NU. I can also attest this is true being a student at NU in the early 2010s. I agree with the students protesting here. Stop building luxury dorms that cost an arm and a leg to pay for. Build something that students can actually afford so they aren't stacking on top of their hefty student loans or having to work job/jobs on top of their schoolwork.

Honestly, universities campuses are a microcosm of the affordable housing market in Boston. It's always building more luxurious apartments so that the few people that can afford them benefits from all the amenities around and let everyone else who can't afford them fight each other to see who gets the right to jam themselves into dilapidated apartments. It's awful. If you're a poor NU student, you have to live in places like Mission Hill or beyond, away from resources such as quick access to the library, study rooms, community resource, etc. Poorer students shouldn't be disadvantaged from school resources just because they are poor and because NU isn't willing to cater to them.
If the new dorms are too expensive and students are choosing cheaper off-campus housing instead, wouldn't NU have trouble filling the dorms and then have to lower the price?
 

Blackbird

Active Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2014
Messages
496
Reaction score
519
So with 200 apartments in Lightview that comes to about $6000 tax per apartment per year. That is $500/month tax. With usually 4 students per apartment that is $125 per student.
Wtf does this mean to families priced out of Mission Hill?
 

KentXie

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
4,035
Reaction score
265
If the new dorms are too expensive and students are choosing cheaper off-campus housing instead, wouldn't NU have trouble filling the dorms and then have to lower the price?
The new dorms are too expensive for a sizable portion of the student body, hence why so many students choose/forced to live off campus. Read my other post:

Keep in mind, these rates are per semester and each semester is equivalent to 4 months. At the minimum, the cheapest option is more than $1000/mo. except the Triple Bedroom. When I lived in an Enhanced Studio in West Village E (something I was able to do for 1 year thanks to saving up my co-op money), the rate was ~$6,000. In a span of 8 years, Northeastern has increased the rate by nearly $2,000 per semester. You want to know why rent continues to go up in neighboring areas? You can blame Northeastern, for building dorms that are incredibly expensive to rent and raising the rate at the low end, driving students to rent in the surrounding neighborhoods. The gap between the rent you pay on campus and what you pay off campus has only widen since the early 2010s and until the gap is narrows, students will continue to move off campus and supply-side will do nothing to solve it because the moment NU can't fill those luxury dorms as a result of not having enough students being able to afford them, that's the moment they stop building dorms.
I can tell you they have no intention to "lower" the cost of housing. They will just not build additional dorms. It's unfortunate that right now that Northeastern is purposely choosing to cater to one certain demographic, the wealthier student body, rather than building, in conjunction to the new luxury dorms, standard "affordable" dorms to serve the average/lower income students. Unlike a regular housing market where the wealthy can outbid the poor on affordable housing if there isn't enough supply of luxury apartment, that dynamic does not exist for on campus housing. The order of being able to select a dorm is done by seniority, i.e. seniors enter the lottery first, then juniors, and so on and no one can reserve two dorm spaces so it's not like there is a need to prioritize luxury dorms first. For students that go on to pay tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and fee, why does one segment get shortchanged by having their accessibility to community resources reduced or have to deal with additional travel time to get to campus/classes. What makes it worst is that many of these off campus students go on to get taken advantaged of by predatory property management like Alpha Management who does the minimum effort needed to keep some of their properties "habitable." In any other level of school, every student have, more or less, the same access to communal resources. Why doesn't a university?
 
Last edited:

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
639
Reaction score
76
Am I crazy or those rates not that outrageous, assuming you go home for the Summer? It's obviously very pricey but it's not like Boston rents are cheap either. Plus I was under the impression that all dorms have 24/7 security, that's not cheap.

You could certainly argue that they should be desinging the rooms to maximize the amount of students who can live there.
 

dshoost88

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 14, 2008
Messages
1,871
Reaction score
934
Am I crazy or those rates not that outrageous, assuming you go home for the Summer? It's obviously very pricey but it's not like Boston rents are cheap either. Plus I was under the impression that all dorms have 24/7 security, that's not cheap.

You could certainly argue that they should be desinging the rooms to maximize the amount of students who can live there.
You’re not crazy, jklo: when factoring in NU’s rates for housing and the amenities that come with them (on-site security, building laundry, RA/RD supervision, newer construction/upkeep, and the obvious location benefit), their rates are comparably below market.

I continue to be mesmerized by the anti-ACC, anti-new residence hall construction sentiment for NU among some on this forum, never mind NU alumni! Add up the number of students attending other Fenway neighborhood colleges and the net addition of on-campus housing they’ve constructed the last 25 years—compared to NU, they’ve got more students enrolled full-time on-site and have added fewer beds to their campuses. But somehow NU is the bad guy.

KentXie, come on man—you were an econ major! More housing supply—be it on campus, in the neighborhood, or across the region—is the only way housing rates will stabilize. Period. And in a country where students have options to attend private or public universities across a big range of the cost spectrum, it’s ridiculous to me that the high cost of living at NU or in Boston was some sort of surprise to any student and that they could act as though they didn’t make the choice to attend there. I like to think given the selectivity of Boston colleges nowadays that their students and their families take into account these high costs before making the decision to attend. I don’t complain about the cost of flights, limited hotel availability, and long line for Space Mountain when I go to Disney World on a Saturday during a holiday weekend: its reputation precedes it.
 

KentXie

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
4,035
Reaction score
265
You’re not crazy, jklo: when factoring in NU’s rates for housing and the amenities that come with them (on-site security, building laundry, RA/RD supervision, newer construction/upkeep, and the obvious location benefit), their rates are comparably below market.

I continue to be mesmerized by the anti-ACC, anti-new residence hall construction sentiment for NU among some on this forum, never mind NU alumni! Add up the number of students attending other Fenway neighborhood colleges and the net addition of on-campus housing they’ve constructed the last 25 years—compared to NU, they’ve got more students enrolled full-time on-site and have added fewer beds to their campuses. But somehow NU is the bad guy.

KentXie, come on man—you were an econ major! More housing supply—be it on campus, in the neighborhood, or across the region—is the only way housing rates will stabilize. Period. And in a country where students have options to attend private or public universities across a big range of the cost spectrum, it’s ridiculous to me that the high cost of living at NU or in Boston was some sort of surprise to any student and that they could act as though they didn’t make the choice to attend there. I like to think given the selectivity of Boston colleges nowadays that their students and their families take into account these high costs before making the decision to attend. I don’t complain about the cost of flights, limited hotel availability, and long line for Space Mountain when I go to Disney World on a Saturday during a holiday weekend: its reputation precedes it.
Dshoost, don't patronize me, it's because I'm an econ major that I know there is a lot more niche than the simplified view you project (i.e. the micro decisions that drive macro trends. These two types of economics have very different and often contradicting dynamics. Most people seem to be educated in only the macro side). I lived off campus a couple of times or at home when I was an NU student and so did many of my fellow student because by the time we were in the lottery to select housing, all the standard dorms were taken and we weren't able to afford the enhanced dorms. You can keep building nothing but enhanced dorms to infinity but that's not going to solve this situation from happening again to lower income students in the future if the supply of standard dorms remain the same. Lower income students will still be forced to live off campus and drive up rent due to not being able to afford a higher rate.

And here's my response to the "lower" than market rate. Many students actually participate in the summer due to Northeastern's co-op program which are six months but also to take additional classes if they prefer to graduate within 4 years rather than 5. In addition, NU is not in the real estate business, it's a university. It's not comparable to an amusement park, it's a university. It's job is to provide living space for their students and give them equal access to educational resources. And remember those that go to university are still students, not some full time worker than can afford to pay $1000-$1500 a month for housing. They will choose the off campus route if rent can be had for $400-$600 month, especially when they also have to set aside money for expensive books and a meal plan (or a food budget).

My question is why is Northeastern only building enhanced dorms and catering to only one demographic of the student body while ignoring the other completely? The fact that you seem to be unable to grasp their pain points and, rather than provide them a solution that would address it, give a tone deaf response like, building more dorms, rates be damned, will solve all problem, is the reason why projects like these will continue to face fierce resistance.

And btw, this isn't a Northeastern only issue. You can say the same to BU and BC but the topic of this thread is Northeastern.
 
Last edited:

jklo

Active Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
639
Reaction score
76
They will choose the off campus route if rent can be had for $400-$600 month,
Where exactly are you getting 400-600 a month in Boston? Maybe if you had 4+ students in a small 2 bdr.
 

JumboBuc

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2013
Messages
2,405
Reaction score
759
If the on-campus buildings are full then their prices can't be pushing people off campus on the net. The prices may push some people off campus, but if the buildings are full then that shows that students are willing to pay the higher prices and aren't spreading into the community as a result of them.

There are two separate questions / objectives at play here:
  1. Colleges should build housing to minimize the housing cost for their students; and
  2. Colleges should build housing to minimize the impact of their students on housing in the neighboring communities.
I feel like a lot of debate on this forum is Person A focusing on 1 and Person B focusing on 2, and them talking past each other.

The case can absolutely be made that colleges are failing at objective 1 by building "luxury" (a term I absolutely hate) dorms. But those "luxury" dorms are NOT failing on objective 2 as long as they are full of paying students.

I'm inclined to care more about 2 than 1, so I'm fine with high-cost dorms. But if your concerns are more on 1 than 2, then yes, high-cost dorms may not seem appropriate.
 
Last edited:

Top