C&W Listing Motor Mart Garage; Sale Could Top $140MApril 21, 2016
By Joe Clements
BOSTON—A Back Bay landmark—the Art Deco Motor Mart garage that features Legal Seafoods in a stripe of ground floor retail—is being put up for sale through Cushman & Wakefield, the leader of its newly restructured Capital Markets team is acknowledging to therealreporter.com. Client Park Square Realty is the longtime owner of an enduring facility dating to the Roaring 1920s, a nine-story, 420,000-sf structure that was refurbished in 1999.
“It’s a gorgeous building,” Capital Markets Vice Chairman Peter Joseph says in confirming C&W’s exclusive assignment of the 1,037-stall garage which some estimates suggest could yield pricing above $140 million. While relaying that the asset is being pitched sans target guidance, Joseph says bifurcated income “throws off a tremendous amount of cash” as a hulking option to motorists in the parking-bereft Back Bay and in 50,700 sf of retail enlivining the streetscape of 201 Stuart St. Joining Legal Seafoods on the tenant menu along with two auto rental agencies are Flemings Prime Steak House and Maggiano’s Little Italy.
Joseph predicts the steady income and pedigree retail roster will create a stir among capital sources clamoring to grab a stake in the bustling Back Bay as the momentum from Prudential Center’s rebirth spreads east. Not only is the massive facility sporting a distinct blue-and-white sign and ornate facade impossible to miss, C&W details how design-wise Motor Mart benefits from having multiple entrances and an efficient ramp design enabling it to accommodate “a constant stream of traffic” brought by a merger of three major east/west corridors in the city, those being Beacon, Boylston and Stuart Streets. A parking freeze on new capacity in place since 1978 should offer further comfort to investors, C&W points out, helping support the notion a new steward could push rates to make them “more in line with the competitive set,” and that climate goes for the retail as well, C&W indicates. “There is a significant amount of upside in there if you price the rents mark-to-market,” says Joseph.
Also on the exclusive C&W assignment are Managing Directors Brian Barnett and Steffen Panzone, each recently hired by C&W following stints at Eastdil Secured’s Capital Markets Group as members of the New England region. Their arrivals followed Joseph’s relocation from the same operation to lead the C&W Capital Markets program in the wake of the Robert E. Griffin Jr. team’s departure to Newmark Grubb, a move that received widespread publicity, as did Joseph’s hiring that was first detailed by therealreporter.com on March 28th.
C&W also is advising investors that a redevelopment play “may present the highest and best use” thanks to “an underutilization of FAR” and special zoning at a behemoth that takes up 1.2 acres in the thickly settled district. Further aiding such a strategy is the asset being a free and clear offering in that there is no long-term management contract or parking operator lease in place, plus the property lacks any condominium legalese or debt financing a buyer would need to navigate. Besides flexibility, the latter element would let a borrower take advantage of record-low interest rates that could fund acquisition and repositioning, C&W further notes.
Park Square has seen a dramatic transformation over the past decade in new construction of luxury residential towers and refurbishment of major hotels including the grande dame Boston Park Plaza directly across the street from Motor Mart. C&W also is highlighting the asset’s venue at the doorstep of numerous cultural institutions that provide demand for parking after business hours, among them the Boston Opera House, Charles Playhouse, Shubert Theater and Wilbur Theater. “The location is amazing,” says Joseph.