Beacon Capital Picks Up Boston’s 177 Huntington Ave. for $59M

Beacon Capital Partners has bought 177 Huntington Ave. in Boston's Back Bay submarket. The 1972 tower used to house The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Trustees of Church administration department.

Beacon Capital Partners, L.L.C., has acquired 177 Huntington Ave. in Boston’s Back Bay submarket for $59 million subject to a 99-year ground lease from The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Trustees of Church Realty Trust.

The iconic, 26-story, 198,825-square-foot office tower is part of the 14.8-acre Christian Science Plaza. The tower was built in 1972 to house the church’s administration departments. Designed by renowned architects I.M. Pei & Partners and Araldo A. Cossutta, Associated Architects, it is a modernist landmarked building that is located at the northeast corner of the plaza at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Belvidere Street.

The church moved its administration offices out of 177 Huntington Ave. in 2008 into the renovated Christian Science Publishing House Building, also on the plaza. The church then began renting the office building to tenants on short-term leases, most of which expire between 2014 and 2017, because it was preparing to sell the building. The building is currently about 95 percent leased. Wayfair, an e-commerce company, is one of the largest tenants with about 100,000 square feet. The company has its headquarters at the site. Although its lease expires in 2014, it is unclear whether Wayfair will stay at the site beyond that date. Other tenants include Carbonite Inc., Altus Marketing and Management L.L.C., One Pica Inc., Charity Partners Inc., The Alliance Companies, Pile and Company, Inc., and EnvaPower Inc.

“This asset was particularly attractive to investors due to its location and value-add components,” said Coleman Benedict, managing director of HFF, which represented the church.

Benedict and his colleagues – director Ben Sayles, executive managing director John Fowler, senior managing director Riaz Cassum and senior real estate analyst Mark Campbell – procured the affiliate of Beacon Capital Partners as the ground lessee after a competitive bidding process.

“In the end, Beacon Capital provided the most compelling terms for our client and will be a great steward of the asset going forward,” Benedict added.

The transaction is part of the church’s Plaza Revitalization Project that could add up to 950,000 square feet of residential and commercial space on two development parcels. HFF is also representing the church as it seeks qualified developers for sites on Belvidere and Dalton streets, which are part of the Planned Development Area (PDA) Master Plan approved by city officials. The new developments are expected to be primarily residential with a possible hotel component.

The revitalization project is also looking to enhance the plaza’s open space and improve environmental sustainability. More trees and grass could be added to the site and a pathway leading to the Original Mother Church could be reopened by building a pedestrian crossing through the reflecting pool, according to a July 2010 Commercial Property Executive report.

The ground lease transaction with the Beacon Capital affiliate and the development plans for the other two parcels fit in with the church’s goal of increasing the church’s real estate revenues while reducing its day-to-day involvement in managing the real estate assets. The church hopes to put more of its resources towards its healing mission, according to HFF and church officials.