The 21st century has brought more choices to people looking for apartments and condos just outside Boston or spacious homes in the Berkshires, but the construction spurt hasn’t been so great in most of the bedroom communities near I-495. Overall, the number of permits for new homes in Massachusetts jumped by 25 percent between 2000 and 2004 (see State of the States, “Flat Growth,” CW, Growth and Development Extra), but that increase was not evenly distributed. At one extreme, the number of permits in Dedham was 14 times greater in 2004 (316) than in 2000 (22); and in Malden the number was 13 times greater (498 new homes, up from 37). Almost all of this growth was the result of apartment complexes: Detached single-family homes accounted for less than 6 percent of the permits in each community. Still, there were scattered communities where total permits almost doubled and almost all of them went to single-family homes, including the exurbs of Northbridge and Salisbury and the older cities of Fitchburg and Lowell—as well as many far western towns.
Sources: 2004 Building Permits, US Census Bureau (www.censtats.census.gov)