Griffith, Rockwood Selling Renewed Waltham Place to Alexandria Via JLLJuly 18, 2017 — By Joe Clements
WALTHAM—A glitzy laboratory/office hybrid totaling 201,000 sf is being acquired by Alexandria Real Estate Equities from a partnership of Griffith Properties and Rockwood Capital, CRE sources are indicating to Real Reporter regarding a pact being orchestrated by JLL Capital Markets as the exclusive agent for Waltham Place. Completed just when the new millennium was commencing, 266 and 275 Second Ave. have been modernized even more under the current stewardship, and observers maintain the effort will be rewarded.
“I hear the numbers are big—lab type numbers,” relays one CRE source who was unable to tabulate a precise figure, a situation others aware of the commitment were equally challenged to provide. One calculation complication could be the newly bifurcated nature of Waltham Place, an asset split almost evenly on a square footage basis, with 266 Second Ave. a two-story, 96,700-sf laboratory building constructed as office space in 1998. Its companion is two years younger and sports four stories of first-class office space totaling 104,875 sf.
The Griffith/Rockwood partnership has held Waltham Place since paying $34.5 million in May 2013 and then infusing an undetermined amount to refurbish the complex and provide the assemblage with amenities considered key to attracting high-level tenants. Those include a renovated full-service cafeteria adorned with outdoor seating, fitness facilities featuring new equipment, lockers and showers, and upgrades were also made to the lobbies and common areas.
JLL in marketing Waltham Place also points to its prime location at Exits 26 and 27 of Route 128, offering easy access and extensive visibility from America’s Technology Highway, and the site has capacity for a generous parking ratio of 3.6 vehicles per 1,000 sf lot. Meanwhile, Waltham has taken steps in recent years to increase its dining and retail options to make the commercial areas better able to compete for prospects, JLL outlines.
One barometer on pricing range expected from a Waltham Place sale comes in a Real Estate Alert article from April announcing the opportunity in which pricing guidance was pegged around $65 million, or a healthy $319 per sf if achieved. At this juncture, however, parties involved are not responding to inquiries regarding the asset which sources insist is under agreement. Calls were unreturned as of press deadline to JLL and Griffith Properties Managing Principal Marci Griffith Loeber. The JLL Capital Markets team on the case includes Managing Director Jessica Hughes plus Senior VP Matthew Sherry.
Besides enhancing building systems and technology capabilities, the owners are credited for boosting Waltham Place’s value via conversion of 266 Second Ave. to laboratory space. New tenants in that footprint today include life sciences firm ImmuneXcite, a company leasing over 10,000 sf this past year for use as its headquarters. One scenario suggested by marker experts would be to take a similar approach at 275 Second Ave. which was at 45 percent occupancy when listed via JLL. Indeed, that has been the strategy for the current landlords, and Alexandria’s focus on life sciences real estate further suggest to some observers that the conversion will be expanded going forward, albeit lacking official acknowledgment.
Laboratory product in suburban Boston has become increasingly popular with inventory tight and expensive in the core East Cambridge cluster that one estimate has commanding rents into the $70-per-sf range on a triple-net basis. The repositioned 266 Second Ave. space has tenants paying nearly $32 per sf, according to one account.Jessica Hughes Matthew Sherry Frank Petz Marci Griffith Loeber