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A Compendium of Property & Capital News
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Nov 22
A Compendium of Property & Capital News

Boston Realty Advisors Launches Fifth Q4 CRE Listing; Suburban Deals Could Near $35M

October 18, 2017 — By Joe Clements
175 Highland Avenue, Needham MA

NEEDHAM—The final frame of 2017 is just taking shape, but sales listings are already piled high for the Boston Realty Advisors suburban team which has five fresh Q4 assignments involving a pair of buildings here along the Highland Avenue commercial corridor and two new exclusives each in neighboring Newton and Watertown. The Needham assets owned by Winhall Cos. will launch today, relays BRA principal Jeremy A. Freid, SIOR, those being the abutting 77 Charles St. and 175 Highland Ave.

“Our sales pace has ramped up in a major way this quarter,” says Freid while explaining the listings for BRA’s five separate clients are being pitched sans pricing guidance but could collectively yield between $30 million and $35 million. Value vagaries in that range would include whether future development prospects for certain assets are deemed attractive, something which could ratchet bidding upwards, he notes.

In the case of Needham, for example, the 40,000 sf office building at 175 Highland Ave. and 21,000 sf of flex product at 77 Charles St. can be acquired separately or together, but any plans to expand on the site would require at least two acres due to local zoning for mixed-use projects, so procuring them individually could blunt that potential. Either way, Freid says a solid leasing roster at the properties which includes pacts running for another 10 years should appeal to investors regardless of the long-range vision.

Other properties BRA has already introduced this quarter are a 33,000-sf flex/office asset at 154 Wells Ave. in Newton’s Wells Avenue Office Park and 5,000 sf of mixed-use space at 1170 Walnut St. abutting the MBTA Green Line station at Newton HIghlands. The owners of 50 Hunt St. and 101 Morse St. in Watertown have also engaged the full-service brokerage firm to peddle those buildings, the former a 24,000 sf office structure and the latter 33,000 sf of flex/office space.

Having a flurry of listings come together so quickly is unusual but not unprecedented, according to Freid, whose team also led by principal Adam Meixner provides leasing guidance with a concentration in the western suburbs lining Route 128. This year, as others have reported, the launch to 2017 sales activity was generally slower, with many citing the nation’s political turmoil as a generator of uncertainty that took a while to unravel.

BRA’s group that also includes Doug Adamian, SIOR, plus Matthew Perry and Jordan Sneider, turned its attention to the leasing realm, and has enjoyed a productive season in that regard and which is continuing to remain brisk. “On top of our leasing (assignments), we did a lot of valuations earlier this year, but people were cautious and slow to make decisions on whether to sell, and now, they are more open to saying, “Lets go,” because they realize the time to act may never be better in this cycle and they want to take advantage of that.”

Freid anticipates a broad stripe of bidders will be entertaining one or multiple listings as the marketing evolves, with users considered a candidate for the more modest-sized offerings including 154 Wells Ave. which Freid says could appeal to a growing firm seeking to establish its own identity. As in the case of the Needham buildings, which Freid says could possibly support a multifamily play down the road, redevelopment of the other listings is also a possibility, and as such, BRA has other practice groups helping bidders assess the potential of those sites.

BRA founding principal Jason S. Weissman, who oversees the multifamily team, is on the case, as is partner and retail ace Michael d’Hemecourt, while Debt and Structured Finance leader Nicholas Herz is available as well. “We are very encouraged” by the level of interest in the buildings already in play, Freid says, and he anticipates the Needham buildings will also be warmly received. “It is a nice opportunity to enjoy some good cash flow for an (extended) period . . . and have plenty of time to do the planning and permitting if the multifamily becomes an exit strategy for you.”

BRA is quite familiar with the buildings and their landlord, having helped bring occupancy to 85 percent with a series of leases inked during the market downturn that totally filled 77 Charles St. One of the denizens there, Golftec, just renewed at the buildiing, BRA crediting its hands-on landlord for keeping tenant satisfaction high.

Dating to 1970, 154 Wells Ave. is located on a one-acre parcel in the popular Wells Avenue Office Park. It is held through 154 Wells Associates LLC, an entity managed by David J. Poorvu who purchased the two-story structure in January 1996 for $784,000. That might end up as a user deal, Freid says, as could 1170 Walnut St., currently operating as a retail store with its prime transit-oriented location expected to intrigue bidders. Its ownership has also been in place for decades, with Walnut Realty Trust paying $325,000 in May 1985 to secure the structure that turned 100 in 2015.

Fifty Hunt St. is a converted warehouse built in 1890 which has been in the same family control since the Great Depression. It sits on a half-acre tucked off Galen Street between Watertown Square and Newton Corner, barely one-third of a mile from the Morse Street listing held by PZME Realty and its manager, Ben Benjamin, since September 2004 when it could be had for $2,950,000. Constructed back in 1865, the enduring property is also considered ripe for redevelopment.

Freid says BRA’s concentration of listings is no surprise given the team is focused primarily on the western flank of Route 128 and has been for over a decade. “We are entrenched there, we have a good sense for how conditions are in the submarket and we have been talking to people about where we think the cycle is right now . . . and it looks like people are starting to agree that this is a good time to test the market,” he says.

The crew even has some live comps to share clients, including the Paragon Towers office complex in Newton BRA harvested earlier this year for KS Partners after helping that firm led by Kambiz Shahbazi lease up the first-class office building. Located at 233 Needham St., Paragon Towers sold for an impressive $343 per sf when acquired this spring for $20,8 million, a deal previously detailed by Real Reporter. While on the higher side for such a property, observers spoken to indicate $300 per sf is not out of the realm of possibilities for some of the holdings such as the Winhall Cos. assets.

Adam Meixner Jeremy Fried Jason Weissman Jordan Sneider Douglas Adamian