Friday, September 07, 2007

The Daily 2¢ - The Final Needless Markup

What in the world has happened to America?

This little nugget came to my attention yesterday and I don’t think I’ve been the same since.

It appears that developers have been busily putting the finishing touches on a truly awe inspiringly bizarre “luxury” condo project in Natick Massachusetts.

In short, called the “Nouvelle at Natick”, it is a condo complex of 215 units that are built directly attached to the newly remodeled and expanded Natick Mall (now branded as the “Natick Collection”).

Yep… you heard right… Abutted right up against Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s and only a short stroll past the food court to Sears.

I’m not sure what to say… I mean, am I alone in thinking people have completely lost their marbles?

Here’s the kicker… the units, already listed on, range from $439,900 for a 953 square foot 1 bedroom 1 bath to… get this… $1,599,900 (yes... $1.6 million) for a 2190 square foot 3 bedroom 3 bath!

Remember this is NATCK we are talking about… and the complex is actually attached directly to the mall.

For all you non-Boston area readers, and with all due respect to Natick residents, I should note that Natick is a fine suburban town but it is located 20 miles out of Boston and up until now, it’s most notable feature was the now even larger mall…. Opps… I mean “Collection”.

Obviously, this project was years in the making and likely seemed more sensible when planned but I’m hard pressed to understand what demographic would be buying any of these units today.

What person actually wants to live AT the mall… no... I mean actually IN the mall…. Not to mention, pay through the nose for the privilege.

This brings up a larger issue as well.

America seems to have gotten seriously carried away with the notion of luxury.

First there was the pricey morning coffee, then the extravagant cars (think hummer, Lexus, etc.) and finally the granite and stainless steel kitchen in the luxury loft, McMansion or colonial gut rehab.

It appears to me that the average Americans expectations are for premium quality, regardless of economic status.

I know this isn’t true for everyone; there is plenty of foot traffic at WallMart, Target, and Costco to prove that, but still, there is undoubtedly a swath of American society that has grown accustom to a false perception of affluence that has been carefully crafted by marketing firms in virtually every product arena.

The housing boom seemed to really exemplify the fact that, given almost unrestricted access to capital, even borrowed capital, consumerism goes wild.

This new condo complex seems to take it even a step further.