Paul Ognibene

Three Chickens and a Hippo

Paul Ognibene stands out in a crowd

When my daughter was very young, she had a children’s book in which you were instructed to circle the thing that didn’t belong.  For example, if there was a drawing that showed a motorcycle, a car, a truck and a plane, you’d circle the plane.  And if there was a drawing that showed three chickens and a hippo, you’d circle the hippo.  In almost any conversation about real estate in the greater Boston area, Paul Ognibene is the hippo.  His work with Urban Spaces, the company he founded and leads in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is almost always a trend-setter and, by the time that his ideas become a trend, he’s off pursuing another venture that will help shape the real estate market for years to come.  Instead of a hippo, perhaps a gazelle or a whirling dervish might be a more apt analogy to describe Paul Ognibene.

Examples of such unique bodies of work abound across the Commonwealth.  In Allston, the innovative 1047 Commonwealth Avenue, is the largest development of micro-units in the country. In the Brighton section of Boston, Paul Ognibene forecasted and spawned the re-birth of Brighton with the development of The Lancaster. And now, the perpetual motion machine that is Paul is at it again with BRIX, now under construction, which is the first major high-end condominium development in burgeoning downtown Salem. Salem had yet to exhibit the obvious trends of a “hot market” when he recognized the potential of drawing both empty-nesters and young professionals from both the North Shore and Boston to one of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful and historic cities.  Currently, Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are also working in the public sector and he’s created a new entity, the Boston Partnership for Community Reinvestment (“BPCR”).  The BPCR is emerging as a valued mass-production vehicle for developing and constructing affordable housing in some of Boston’s most distressed communities.  Simultaneously, this work is creating an economic development engine by providing construction jobs to residents of those impacted communities.  Ognibene, a true innovator and trend-setter, has also become an influencer, an oracle of sorts to whom people are drawn to listen.  In that typical role for him, where his work speaks volumes about the man, Paul Ognibene is always the hippo.

Paul Ognibene – Innovator and Influencer

Paul Ognibene, the CEO and founder of Urban Spaces, LLC, a Cambridge-based real estate development firm, has established himself as one of the most trusted and reliable prognosticators of real estate trends in the greater Boston area.  Over the past several decades, he and his firm have quietly been responsible for many of the urban trends that we’ve already experienced and will lead the way for all of us in the future.  The trend-setting work of Paul Ognibene includes, among many other examples, the innovative 1047 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston, the largest development of micro-units in the United States, and the forecasting and jump-starting re-birth of Brighton with the development of The Lancaster.  And Paul Ognibene is doing it again with BRIX, now under construction as the first major condominium development in burgeoning downtown Salem.  Salem had yet to exhibit the obvious trends of a hot market when he recognized the potential of drawing both empty-nesters and young professionals from both the North Shore and Boston to one of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful and historic cities.  Currently, Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are working in the public sector also, and he’s created a new entity, the Boston Partnership for Community Reinvestment (“BPCR”).  The BPCR is emerging as a valued mass-production vehicle for developing and constructing affordable housing in some of Boston’s most distressed communities.  Simultaneously, this work is creating an economic development engine by providing construction jobs to residents of those impacted communities.  Paul Ognibene, in addition to looking forward, is trying to give back which will be another trend that will mark urban development more and more in the post-pandemic future.  It would behoove anyone or any organization to hear more about his views as hecontinues to influence the world in which we’ll soon be living.  Paul Ognibene regularly shares his thoughts at various real estate symposiums and, to see his work, please visit Urban Spaces.  It will be worth the trip.

Building The ‘Burbs

Paul Ognibene Builds BRIX in Salem, MA

Paul Ognibene can remember when Salem was mostly known as a tourist attraction during Halloween season. While Salem remains a favorite destination for visitors from across the country during that time, the city is also the home of one of the hottest residential real estate markets along the North Shore. Paul Ognibene is proud to announce that Urban Spaces is providing an opportunity for those looking to live in a community on the rise in the form of a high-end condominium building, BRIX. The community will offer 61 units from one to three bedrooms, as well as the exclusive Penthouse Collection.

Paul Ognibene is particularly proud of this venture as Urban Spaces is again collaborating with frequent partner Diamond Sinacori, LLC. The two companies are always looking for ways to provide great residential and commercial real estate that will benefit local communities, as was the case with The Lancaster, Boston’s first LEED Gold-certified condominium, which included 35% affordable units. With the discovery of an available vacant courthouse on Washington Street in Salem, Paul Ognibene and Diamond Sinacori CEO Merrill Diamond recognized the development potential of the property in this historic downtown.

As with any real estate project with which Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are involved, the goal is to provide value to the local community. Salem’s residential architecture features many facades with brick exteriors, so Paul Ognibene wanted to ensure that the design of the condominiums was complementary to the neighborhood fabric. At BRIX, visitors and residents will be greeted by a two-story lobby with an elevator and a full-service concierge desk. During the spring and summer, a beautiful terrace will be available featuring gas grills, a fire pit, and comfortable seating. Residents will have access to a fitness center, underground parking, dedicated storage, a club room for events, bike racks, and more.

BRIX condominiums will provide residents with ideal city living accommodations. From high-end designer finishes to kitchens filled with Bosch appliances, residents will enjoy modern living in a historic district. Paul Ognibene introduced the project by saying, “Our work at BRIX builds on the core mission of Urban Spaces and will enhance and revitalize this important part of downtown Salem.”

Massachusetts Steps into the Forefront of COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Paul Ognibene

In the past few weeks, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has spread at a rapid rate in most areas of the United States and the world. The situation has caused an alarming number of deaths and massive human suffering.  From an economic perspective, it’s also caused many industries to slow.  And with social distancing and preventative measures in full force, we all feel the impact on our everyday lives. Paul Ognibene, CEO of Cambridge-based Urban Spaces, notes that while the COVID-19 crisis has devastating implications, it’s worth highlighting that there has been a great deal of ingenuity and altruism throughout the state. 

Ognibene pointed out that the life science industry of Massachusetts has made great strides in furthering its understanding of the virus and facilitating relief efforts for those most affected by the pandemic. For example, Cambridge-based Moderna Therapeutics quickly developed a vaccine called mRNA-1273 which entered Phase 1 of its clinical trial in Seattle on March 16.  Moderna, in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center, and has enrolled 45 individuals between 18 and 45 years of age to test the efficacy and viability of the vaccine. Although vaccine trials take time to prove that they are safe enough for widespread distribution, it is hopeful that the Moderna vaccine will show promise in the testing phase. 

The spirit of altruism within the Massachusetts community during this time has been encouraging. For example, biotech company Biogen in Cambridge has committed $10 million for relief efforts including training and food for health care professionals working so diligently throughout the crisis. Biogen’s CEO Michel Vounatsos acknowledged that supporting the front-line medical workers and other at-risk populations during is of extreme importance. Vulnerable communities are also receiving much-needed assistance via the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has an initial funding of $13 million and is currently accepting donations.  Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has stated that the goal of the fund, which is administered by Eastern Bank, is to assist the most vulnerable members of communities within the state who have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. Ognibene notes that the fund reflects the generous and compassionate spirit of the state’s residents.