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Mon, Dec 17
A Compendium of Property & Capital News
Dec 17
A Compendium of Property & Capital News

Alcion Joining Nordblom to Buy Boston Globe HQ for $82M Via Colliers and HFF

December 19, 2017 — By Joe Clements
135 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston MA

BOSTON—After nearly three years of fits and starts entertaining myriad proposals, including three which faltered late stage, Boston Globe owner John Henry is expected to finally close this week on his sale of the newspaper’s former headquarters, the publication having relocated from 135 Morrissey Blvd. to a new home at Exchange Place in the Financial District, a commitment first unveiled by Real Reporter. Market watchers maintain the sales price will be roughly $100 per sf, or approximately $82 million, and in a new twist, the deal involving Nordblom Co. will add Alcion Ventures as majority partner, sources claim.

Colliers International is exclusive agent handling transfer of the Dorchester asset and is reportedly arranging a debt package for the venture, whereas HFF is said to have arranged the equity aspect bringing Alcion aboard, which like venerable Nordblom Co. is a homegrown operation. Alcion Ventures is a CRE private equity firm that has a value creation investment strategy targeting seven North American markets from Boston to Los Angeles and including Toronto.

Locally focused, Nordblom Co. has previously been identified as the winning bidder for the 815,000-sf property fronting Interstate 93 on a 16.5-acre parcel, the developer’s resume featuring the transformational remake of Norwest Park in Burlington into a dynamic lifestyle center featuring a hotel, restaurants and retail. Nordblom has already outlined plans for a 690,000-sf mixed-use complex to be carved out of the cavernous industrial/office structure which once housed all of the Boston Globe operations, from editorial and management to delivery drivers and printing professionals. Henry has dispatched the printing activities to another venue, having acquired a suburban industrial building for that division.

Colliers International Capital Markets team members, HFF and Nordblom Co. did not respond as of press deadline to inquiries from Real Reporter regarding the closing which some sources indicate was pushed to Wednesday after initially being slated for conclusion last week, not uncommon for such complex negotiations. Multiple observers insist both sides are angling to wrap things up by Christmas; “imminent” is the timetable offered by one of those CRE professional familiar with the situation. “For sure,” adds the source.

Certainly, Nordblom has advanced further than any other suitors among a multitude who went through the previous marketing programs, each time resulting in a finalist being named only to have the talks ultimately falter, in two instances requiring the prospective buyers to surrender millions of dollars for not fulfilling their agreement. That was not the case for prolific local real estate investor Dr. Gerald Chan, first identified as winning bidder by Real Reporter in the third go-round. The talks fell into a state of limbo for about a year before the Globe apparently pulled the plug for unknown reasons. That led to the latest campaign that the Globe reported this summer had been awarded to Nordblom which will serve as operating partner for Alcion Ventures.

The Colliers Capital Markets team is led by principals Scott Dragos and Douglas Jacoby with Assistant VP’s Anthony Hayes and Tim Mulhall plus Associate Daniel Hines while members of the Debt & Structured Finance team include Co-Chairman Kevin Phelan and Executive VP Jeff Black. HFF Senior Director Lauren O’Neil Goff is working on the Alcion entry, according to sources; she did not respond to a call regarding the project.

Henry acquired 135 Morrissey Blvd. as part of his $70 million purchase of the newspaper in summer 2013. The publication’s value has plummeted in value this millennium, and talk soon surfaced that the operations would be relocated and the building sold, ultimately leading to the hiring of Colliers to oversee the process. In each instance, the asset generated substantial interest prior to an ill-fated buyer being named until Nordblom sealed the deal.

Besides $82 million in parting gifts, Henry collected impressive sums from the forfeited deposits of the two bidders who walked away last minute. Some market watchers question how much of that would have been offset by the costs of keeping such a large facility operational, but most spoken to say the final chapter of the paper’s history on Morrissey Boulevard will prove positive for the seller. “That’s great for an empty building,” offers one observer.

Douglas Jacoby Scott Dragos John W. Henry Daniel Hines and Tim Mulhall Anthony Hayes