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Theater District

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Boston’s Theater District Is Close to CAJ House!

 

Over the years we have noticed a large increase in actors, stagehands, producers requesting a stay at CAJ House. I could not understand the implications. The first was an actress playing a role in MAMMA MIA! in 2004: she showed up literally on our doorstep. Since then, I have hosted Theater district actors for Wicked, Rent, An American in Paris, etc.

I estimate we have hosted 100 or more actors from all Boston Theater district productions at our house. This is the result of word of mouth recommendations. I love it. They are usually really talented, young, smart, energetic and beautiful people. I am happy and proud to be their home of choice while they perform in Boston.

Wicked the theater

Many actors from Wicked staid here!

Real Estate is less work

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Real Estate work is the lazy man / woman job

My friend Cliff is a real estate developer like me. He joined me impromptu while I was having lunch at a local restaurant.

As we were trading war stories about the real estate market, he made a statement that caught me by surprise and made me reflect. “You know Walter, you and I work in real estate because it is less work.” When he saw my incredulous face he added: ” How many hours do you actually work in a week?” This question got me thinking … I thought about the days and sleepless nights when loans were due and market was crashing: 1988, 1991, 1997, 2008… I could not agree that we real estate people work less. But the statement gnawed me. On second thought I had to concede:  that was not “work”, that was emotional work.

Real Estate worrier

Real Estate W(o)rrier

He was mostly correct! I basically work 26 to 30 hours per week and then spend the rest of the time looking for the next deal which I think goes under the heading Fun Socializing or Public Relations which I love. Real Estate is fun for me!

Disclaimer: Of course the part that not everyone can stomach about real estate is the very high risk always present and the loss of liquidity in bad times. You cannot liquidate your real estate on command like a stock: if the market is bad, you have to be able to hold a real estate asset until better times. Thus reducing leverage is the secret to all successful real estate holders.

But Cliff was right: real estate is for light worker yet heavy worriers! We spend less time working, but lots of time figuring out ways to pay for loans!

Saratoga Street Landscaping

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111 Saratoga Street today

 

Javier from my office did a little landscaping…

Landscaping Saratoga Street

111 Saratoga Street

 

How it looked yesterday…

Landscaping Saratoga Street

111 Saratoga Street yesterday

Tremont Street Shops

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Tremont Street Shops

Tremont Street shops

When you visit CAJ House, you not only get our undivided attention, you are also immersed in an eco – system (nice term I picked up from my tree hugging days!) made up of small, locally owned shops. These shop visits provide original Bostonian items which can make your visit to Boston unforgettable and provide food and services which are mostly from local farms and businesses. At the same time you are strengthening our local economy.

Walking for just two blocks north on Tremont Street, shops will be on both sides (take a left outside 677 Tremont Street) there are at least 14 businesses owned by locals and two national chain (caldwell banker and starbucks) By shopping here, you are exercising your legs and lungs! Side benefits: you are reducing pollution and you are helping our neighborhood remain vibrant and strong and attractive and allow us to continue offering original stuff you cannot find elsewhere and which make Boston different from any other city.

Below I am providing a quick photo walk of some of these business. Please feel free to comment or send me ideas!

Tremont Street real estate office

Boutique real estate company locally owned

South End Eye shop on Tremont Street

South End Eye and Upper Crust are owned by locals

647 Tremont and Sorel Restaurants

647 Tremont and Sorel Restaurants

Spa treatments and wellness on Tremont Street

Spa treatments and wellness on Tremont Street

Framing Store on Tremont Street

Framing Store on Tremont Street

South End Athletic Store on Tremont Street

South End Athletic Store on Tremont Street

what I share with elon musk

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Battery backup and customer service

I was thinking of Elon Musk the other day and realized I have something in common with this most innovative and creative mind: no, I did not create a car company from scratch nor did I send a re-usable missile into space… but… like him I believe in batteries and optimizing energy use. I also believe in battery backup systems when power grid is down or when consumption peaks. Elon Musk recently unveiled a collecting/storage device that for a price below $4,000 can power your house in case of a blackout. At our Tremont Street location (and soon at our other location) I did the same. I want my guests to be in touch at all times. Like Elon Musk I believe in service. So I installed 3 battery backup systems for our internet modem, the wifi repeaters and the video surveillance which monitors our front door. Why?

Image of Mr Elon Musk courtesy of Wired Magazine

Image of Mr Elon Musk courtesy of Wired Magazine

Because in case of power outage, I worry that a guest who has his phone battery depleted, may not be able to communicate with the outside world. An emergency could happen, he/she may also just want to alert parents or us about an emergency situation and without a phone and no power to replenish cell phone, this would be impossible short of walking down the street to engage emergency personnel or us about the situation. With internet always on, a Skype call or instant messaging will be available to all CAJ House guests no matter how bad things get. The backup batteries we installed should provide full power internet wifi for 5 hours. This is part of our attempt to anticipate and service our guest needs. Oh, and I also have adopted PAYPAL as our reservation payment system since its inception; another system he co-invented.

Matryoshka search dolls

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 Search within the search

Russian dolls in furnished apartments

The original Matryoshka doll

You know those russian dolls that fit one inside the other in a seemingly endless sequence? These are the Matryoshka dolls. This is what I see as the future internet world order. I am witnessing a doll within a doll endless search on Google, Bing and Yahoo. I search for a hotel on google, I end up searching within Expedia. The original search engine mission was to help the consumer find things easily in the process make better buying decisions. The search engine was also helping the little business get found side by side to the giant corporation, it was the promise of a new, simpler, fairer, egalitarian world order. Small companies such as CAJ House could compete with juggernauts in the short term housing business such as Furnished Quarters and Equity Housing. The consumer would get better deals and the small housing provider could fill his/her apartments with almost no direct cost advertising.

A new doll is born

What has happened since is that Google found a way to earn billions by perfecting the advertising/search engine.  Google did/does this by inserting advertisers who pay for search words and phrases on top of word searches: “adwords”.  If I want to place my furnished apartments in boston in front of the clicking consumer,  I can buy the search term “Furnished apartment Boston” for a few cents to many dollars per click. The consumer will find me and Google profits. The consumer ends up paying for this advertising because CAJ House rent will be higher to cover this cost. In the early days, the cost would probably end up being a few dollars added to each apartment rental. In the last few years, a new Matryoshka doll has opened shop and added new costs to the consumer.

The search within the search

Many companies have successfully inserted  themselves between Google and the consumer and are now exacting fees to find what the consumer used to find on his/her own via patient searches and comparisons. Each one of these companies is specialized in his/her world of expertise. Expedia, Travelocity and Booking are now the default search engine for hotels. Uber and Lyft help you find easy transportation amongst the thousands of car owners who provide their services,  Airbnb and Roomorama help you find housing among the many: CAJ House being one of them.  All these sub search engines, make huge amounts of money doing little more than aggregating the providers that offer the actual service. The fees of Expedia  are relatively modest: but in transportation search Uber and now housing search Airbnb are exacting enormous fees.  These companies charge fees to make comparison shopping easier for all of us. Expedia and Travelocity charge 7% of hotel rates. On a three night stay that is a relatively small $50 fee. Airbnb and other short term housing search engine companies soak the consumer for little added value.  A two month stay at $2,000 x month apartment is increasing the consumer’s cost of lodging by almost $300 to $400!  This cost trickles down to the bottom line since the fees become a cost of doing business.  As Airbnb and Roomorama inventory of housing offerings become larger, I wonder if a “new economy” model is preparing to leap with a new Matrioshka layer of fees… The new economy model seems to be moving from providing the actual service to the finder of the finder of the actual service/product.

Airbnb and Uber are changing the furnished apartments and taxi businesses

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Airbnb does furnished apartments, Uber does taxis

 

Furnished apartments in the AirBnB era

The new sharing economy giants

 

While listening to a radio show discussing the movement by the taxi industry to counter, via legislation, the UBER push in many cities where it is operating, I began reflecting on how AirBnb has changed the furnished apartment business. Personally, I feel more competition and change can be embraced as long as we all play by the same rules. The disruption caused by Uber in the taxi industry and AirBnb in the furnished short-term apartment business has been tremendous.

If you had a problem with a cab driver who never picked you up for your airport ride, who could you complain to? If a cab was dirty, who did you complain to? Uber allows star ratings of both driver and customer: an enormous improvement. AirBnb allows the same. So, now a bad landlord or problem tenant guest can be kept out  or become the star of the system for the benefit of all. You can also write to the management about issues and in the case of UBER, you will get a 100% refund of your ride, boom, just like that! Wonderful.

Taxi drivers and owners of medallions are up in arms! All of a sudden they are accountable! What a concept! I welcome this change. What about the furnished apartment business? As you can see from this article “Raleigh orders halt to homeowner using online rental AirBnb” the push back is coming for AirBnb also. Neighbors of people like the homeowner in this article do not like the constant flow of strangers in and out of their community. There are also some legal nightmares already happening all over the country. As a result of the new unregulated market, complex legal cases are rising in the courts because of tenants illegally subletting their apartments on AirBnb. Under existing tenant – landlord laws in Massachusetts, it is illegal to sublet for profit to a third party not approved by the landlord. Some guests will lose their money and a place to stay if the Landlord challenges the sublet. Zoning laws outline where and how hotels and furnished apartments can operate. Tenant laws regulate what a tenant on a lease can and cannot do and prohibit subletting.

I used to have little competition in the small owner short-term rental business. Now everyone who owns a condominium or rents an apartment is a potential competitor. My business has evolved and changed in the recent years.

I understand how the taxi people feel squeezed, a taxi medallion in the city of Boston costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. The license was a kind of protection from competition and restricted the driving of a taxi to approximately 1,300 cabs in the city. This allowed the cab owners to extract every penny out of drivers and charge some of the highest rates in the country per mile driven. Cabs were dirty and dispatchers were unresponsive to the customers’ request for timely pickups. We lived in a semi-monopoly regulated by the city of Boston who dispensed some of the medallions to a select few multimillion dollar cab owners, who then milked immigrant drivers and consumers like you and me.

In the furnished apartment business, we have some similar and completely different challenges posed by AirBnb’s entry a few years’ back, the difference is there is no exclusive medallion the city dispenses for us. But similarly furnished apartments are issued yearly licenses each year that hold landlords accountable via inspectors and police who enforce rules and laws. Not only do we have to compete in price and amenities with AirBnb hosts so we can get good rating and business, we also have to keep an eye on laws and comply with them to keep our licenses in compliance.

Each year we spend thousands of dollars to make sure we comply with our license requirements we also pay a small staff for emergencies. This overhead is included in the rate of our apartments which in turn has to be in line with AirBnb going rates for us to remain competitive. Our competition of mostly single condominium owners or renters, do not have to comply with same laws under present unregulated system.

In essence there now is an unregulated Far West on one side represented by the new AirBnb hosts and us, the old guard providers who must comply with fire codes and egress and sanitary inspections. We are at a competitive disadvantage because we are being held to higher standard by regulations and because we have a recognizable corporate entity which can easily be soiled or removed from us if we don’t take care of problems immediately be it 11 pm or 2am.

We also pay to have service people on our staff at the ready. The apartment owner or renter vacationing in Mexico  or Italy will not get to a flooding apartment as fast and as efficiently as we can with a continuous presence.

All in all the short term furnished rental model introduced by AirBnb brings some welcome challenges to our industry. As a result of AirBnb making it easier for owners of apartments to monetize his/her apartment we all have more options as guest and host, the rating system for guest and host is awesome news, but this should not happen in a legal vacuum. The absence of specific short term stay regulation does not protect the guest who stays in AirBnb apartments, and creates unfair competitive advantages, for this reason, I favor the introduction of city ordinances and rules which AirBnb hosts must comply with, the same fire and egress and noise and sanitary laws that we — the professionals of the furnished apartment business — have always been held to.

Attention to Detail

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Attention to Detail: No Afterthought At CAJ House

 

What attention to detail has to do with providing cozy accommodation for our clients, you might think. Well, it may not but we still do it. In fact, CAJ House prides itself of paying attention to detail in every aspect of its operations, be it the filled salt and pepper dispensers you find on the tables or the pillows on the beds or the curtains on your windows. Even when we were having the premises renovated, we made sure our customers weren’t disturbed in any way. So, in our experience, paying attention to detail translates to topnotch customer service and satisfaction, which is what we aim for.

This is one area of our business where we disregard what our competitors do or don’t do. Our mantra has been fulfilling our clients’ needs and ensuring they leave with a smile on their faces and we achieve this through taking care of the small things which don’t seem like much but do affect the overall experience you enjoy while staying at CAJ House. Nothing is an afterthought here. We carefully deliberate each and every aspect before we make decisions, virtually guaranteeing a consistent level of quality and customer satisfaction.

One area where we have placed special emphasis is comfort. This is the reason we have our own custom-made pillows. In fact, it is our employees who make them right here. As you can see in the image below, Javier is working on the cover for the pillows. From selecting the right fabric, including factoring color, patterns and texture, to stitching and putting them on the pillows, we do it all ourselves, right here at the CAJ House. Hence, it is extremely pleasing to hear clients’ compliment us on the color coordination of our rooms. After all, not just the carpets but the pillow covers colors work with the drapes.

Custom fabric and pillows being made

Custom fabric and pillows being made 

Finished Pillows

Finished Pillows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are the things we focus on to ensure our clients return to us whenever they are in Boston. Over the years, we have learned that it is the small things which matter the most. When we put in the extra effort, our clients notice it and appreciate it, like with the pillow covers. We are confident none of our competitors in the area pay as much attention to detail as we do, resulting in an overall better experience for our clients. We approach every aspect of our operations the way we deal with our clients: complete attention to detail and nothing is an afterthought.

 

Completed Apartment Three at Tremont Street

Completed Apartment Three at Tremont Street

 

 

December to January promotion

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December to January promotion

From December 1 to January 31 we are offering a special deal: 4 weeks for the price of 3.

Rules are very simple: please reserve one of our apartments from December 1 to December 28 or 31 or include these days in your longer stay and we will charge only 3 weeks of your december stay. If you are coming earlier, say from November 14 to December 28, we will discount the portion of your stay that includes the december 4 weeks. Offer is not valid if you stay only 2 or 3 weeks of month of december or january.

You will love our cozy places!

Fall window decorations

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Fall window decorations

Another summer has ended. We are sad. But also excited by the prospect of Halloween and Thanksgiving: two great times to be in Boston. Julia and Javier and I have spent the afternoon decorating our office and front windows with fall foliage decorations. We love oranges, wheat color and dark reds of foliage.

See the results and come visit our furnished apartments at CAJ House.

Window decorations, flowers, our Tremont Street window storefront

Window decorations

Tale from Restaurant Row, South End

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Tales from Boston: A Restaurant to Remember

There are plenty of attractions in Boston, including art galleries, museums, performing arts centers, and plenty of shopping opportunities too. The greatest attractions though, are perhaps the restaurants in Boston, and eminent among them for nigh on 27 years, has been Hamersley’s Bistro. Yet, it is no longer to continue, for the world famous Gordon Hamersley has decided, at long last, to hang up his hat for good.

Yes, as unfortunate as it is, Hamersley’s Bistro will be closing soon, and so will end the saga of one of the greatest restaurants the city of Boston has ever known.

Peak in restaurant

Gordon Hamersley

However, not all is lost and forlorn. For there was a time, when South End was home to merely two decent restaurants, and they were Icarus and Calypso. Then Calypso shut down, and the opening of Hamersley’s was actually a time of disappointment for South End Pioneers, as it opened in the space previously occupied by Calypso, which was one of the only good places to hang out at for an evening.

Hamersley’s Bistro proved everyone wrong though, and quickly established itself as a restaurant of note, and became famous for its delectable offerings – a truly delightful mix of American and Italian and French cuisine. So great was the impact of Hamersley’s in fact, that half a dozen and more restaurants cropped up nearby over the next few years, and transformed South End into the epicenter of culinary experimentation and high brow eating in all of Boston.
Today, there are 36 restaurants in South End which earned it the title restaurant row. And it all started when Gordon Hamersley decided to give the neighborhood a chance, and opened his bistro on Tremont Street.
If you have cause to be in Boston then, and you know you will be here for a while yet, then choose CAJ House for highly affordable and eminently comfortable apartments available at short term rentals, located just steps away from Restaurant Row Tremont Street, and experience all the culinary delights which South End has to offer. Who knows, you may even be lucky enough to be one of the last customers to ever eat at the renowned Hamersley’s Bistro.

September Temporary Relocation

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Tales from Boston: The September 1st Relocation saga

Boston is a perpetually young city, vibrant and captivating, and is constantly in a state of flux. Ever teeming with the students from the 7 high profile universities in the Greater Boston area, including Harvard and MIT, it is perhaps no surprise that the city always seems incredibly busy. Yet, the changes that Boston undergoes through are at no time more apparent than at September 1st – the move in, move out day in Beantown.

The Chain Reaction

Now, while change is good at times, and can even be exciting, once nearly half a city the size of Boston decides on relocating into new homes on one particular day of the year, the resulting scenario can be chaotic at best.
Consider that a lot of apartments change hands at this time of the year. Now imagine that you are ready to move, and have perhaps already vacated your current residence, only to find out that the existing tenant in your new apartment has not moved out yet – and will not be able to for at least a day. The result: a chain reaction, with chaos, panic, and a frantic search for short term accommodation the most prominent links.

To Diffuse the Situation

So, why not avoid the whole predicament – and not even allow it to be a probability – by relocating temporarily to an apartment on a short term basis? CAJ House offers affordable, furnished apartments in two of the city’s most ideal locations for exactly these types of situations. You can prevent an extremely messy chain reaction from taking place, diffusing the situation before it becomes highly problematic, and spend an entire week or two living in comfort at one CAJ House’s beautifully furnished apartments in the bargain.

Moving in Comfort

Next September 1st then, avoid all the hassle and the panic, and book your short term rental from the last week of August to the first week of September. Some moving companies in Boston even offer storage for your belongings. You can pay them, and they will keep all your possessions safe in their secured company parking.
The Athens of America is a city meant to be lived in fully – for every moment to be enjoyed and cherished. It certainly has plenty to offer, from restaurants with exquisite cuisine to galleries aplenty and from delightfully unique shops to a variety of other attractions. Do not let the heartache of September 1st get to you, and move into a short term rental from CAJ House.

Living Short Term Rentals

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Living Short Term Rentals: The Things You Need to Consider

In an increasingly globalized and connected world, with travel times cut short to within hours across many thousands of miles, people find themselves traveling more and often, for both leisure and business purposes. Yet, they grow weary of the traditional hotels, which are sterile, crowded places at best.

Furnished short term rentals, however, offer a wonderfully welcoming and comfortable alternative, allowing you to feel at home anywhere in the world, even if you are on a mere week long business trip. Not just any short term rental would do though, so here are some things you should consider before you choose one:

Matters of Privacy

Hotels, even the best of them, are rather impersonal spaces, and they offer little privacy beyond the sanctuary of your room. Step outside, and you run into a multitude of people hustling and bustling about, and things can get pretty uncomfortable in a short period of time. If you cherish your privacy, make sure you get a short term rental that offers you exactly that, so you can best enjoy your travels.

The Cost Consideration

While still cheaper than hotels for trips shorter than a week, short term rentals can prove to be far less expensive compared to hotels if you are staying for a month or longer, particularly when you are traveling with your partner. Short term furnished rentals can offer far more amenities, in addition to greater comfort and ease. Our apartments feature a private kitchen in each apartment where you can cook your own food purchased (more inexpensively than Hotel room service) at one of the three markets in our neighborhood.

The Proximity Agenda

When travelling, for whatever reason, you would wish to visit the city’s popular spots and tourist attractions. Furthermore, when you stay at a our furnished rental, you will be travelling around independently, thus it is essential that you stay in close proximity to public transportation. Therefore, consider the location of the short term rental carefully before you reserve it for your visit.

When to Book and Other Considerations

Short term rentals, especially when in cities like Boston, Paris, or London, are never easily available, so you should consider planning and booking well in advance. Begin your research as soon as possible, and book the rental at least 2 months before you plan to visit.

Lastly, a major factor you should consider when staying at a short-term rental is that they are often located in areas where people live full time, and you will have to be respectful, in addition to being careful that you do not disturb your neighborhood’s quiet and peace. When traveling to Boston, whether you are a medical practitioner, researcher or business person, get in touch with CAJ House for beautiful, comfortable, and furnished rentals.

SoWa – South End artist community

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SoWa – South End’s Own Artist Community

Discover artistry in South End

Boston, Massachusetts, is a city of many flavors, a range of colors, and a delightfully varied array of tastes, sounds, and sights. It offers a bit of everything to everyone, so that no one feels left out, and all are left completely forever and enchanted by it. The SoWa district in Boston’s South End neighborhood is just one such flavor, yet it is in itself an enriched mixture of unique aromas and essences.

The SoWa District

Short for ‘South of Washington’ – a name coined by Mario Nicosia, president of GTI properties – SoWa has undergone a recent renaissance, reinventing itself to emerge as one of the most desirable neighborhoods in all of Boston. Entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and developers continue to flock into SoWa, attracted by the unique opportunities on offer, and to experience the rich and vibrant lifestyle.

SOWA abandoned warehouse

SOWA abandoned warehouse circa 2001, today artist lofts

Where once you would find warehouses and mills by the score, crafting shoes, pianos, and canned goods, among other merchandise, you can now find rows of unique shops full of exotic imports, art galleries, design studios – both graphic and interior, marketing agencies, aesthetically designed modern residential lofts, and a range of creative businesses. And it is these residences that CAJ House offers to you as affordable short term rentals, in close proximity to everything that the historic South End has to offer.

Of Rentals and Things to Do

CAJ House offers furnished apartments to professionals – business, medical, and academic – who visit Boston, for a variety of reasons, and require residence at short term rentals. If you wish open a new business in the city, or are visiting as an academic guest, or if you’re a budding artist with dreams of representing your paintings or sculptures in one of SoWa’s galleries, get in touch CAJ House to ensure that your stay in Boston is comfortable and enjoyable.

Now, once you are settled into a thoughtfully furnished apartment,

View of modern design furnished apartment

Designer lofts and apartments in new South End

and have spent a refreshingly exhausting day exploring business opportunities or offering your medical services, you will want to recharge, and the SoWa district offers to you everything you will need to do exactly that. There are 36 restaurants that you can sample, including B & G Oysters and Barbara Lynch’s Butcher shop, which are part of one of the most successful restaurant empires, as well as the Hamersley’s Bistro, and the Cinquecento Roman Trattoria. If you’re not in the mood for a cuisine exploration, even then, you can always plan your future restaurant visit in SoWa while you relax for the evening and cook in a CAJ House rental.

Medical

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Professional Medical Accommodations in Boston

 

For professionals in search of short term apartment rentals in Boston, CAJ House provides the answer. Boston, increasingly known as a center for leaders in the high tech and banking sectors, also welcomes healthcare professionals who flock to the city to hone their skills beside the best doctors in the area. Physicians specializing in orthopedics, oncology and heart disease come from all over the world to work with doctors at Harvard Medical School’s pediatric hospital, Beth Israel, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Boston University Medical Center, located near CAJ House.

Luxury Short Term Boston Rentals

Guests at CAJ House enjoy a stylish urban apartment lifestyle with the amenities of a luxury hotel and the comforts of home. The airy CAJ House apartment layouts are enhanced with a wide range of conveniences including a microwave, bath supplies, WiFi Internet access and flat screen TVs. Elegant finishes like hardwood flooring and floor to ceiling windows enhance these luxurious apartments. A breakfast area with cappuccino and croissants is planned onsite.

Two South End Locations

Enjoy two excellent CAJ House locations on Worcester and Tremont Streets, within walking distance of business centers like Copley and the Prudential Center. The vibrant South End arts district, where you will delight in the charming ambiance reminiscent of New York’s storied Greenwich Village, offers romantic tree lined streets and brick Victorian rowhouses listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Enjoy bistros and trendy wine bars, and try something new at an ethnic restaurant in this exciting area. For a relaxing day, browse among the art galleries and working artist studios close to CAJ House apartments.

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