Blackstone JV Sells 2-Building Portfolio; National, Bulfinch Sell Office Edifice, Both in Cambridge, Mass.

The weather might be cooling off a lot, but all that brainpower in Cambridge, Mass., seems to be heating up the CRE market there, since two office transactions were announced Friday that totaled three buildings and 670,000 square feet.
Cambridge park Drive

CambridgePark Drive

 By Scott Baltic, Contributing Editor

The weather might be cooling off a lot, but all that brainpower in Cambridge, Mass., seems to be heating up the CRE market there, because two office transactions were announced Friday that totaled three buildings and 670,000 square feet.

In the larger deal, CBRE Global Investors purchased, from a joint venture between Blackstone and Equity Office Properties, 125 and 150 CambridgePark Drive, a two-building institutional-quality portfolio totaling 470,258 square feet on a 5.8-acre site with a to-be-built parking garage. The price was not disclosed.

The portfolio is 94 percent leased, and tenants include Boston Scientific, EMC, Intuit, Regus, Thomson Reuters, HP and Whole Foods Market (occupying both office space and the first Whole Foods–branded full-service cafeteria). Other amenities include a new fitness center/game lounge and easy access to the MBTA’s Red Line Alewife station one block away.

The building were built in the 1980s, but underwent significant capital improvements and renovations in 2011 and 2012, a CBRE spokesperson told Commercial Property Executive.

CBRE/New England’s Chris Angelone, Bruce Lusa, John Meador and Charles Kavoogian represented the seller.

ForresterIn the second deal, an open-end, build-to-core fund affiliated with National Real Estate Advisors, of Washington, D.C., sold its 50 percent interest in Forrester Research’s world headquarters (Building 200) in Cambridge Discovery Park. The buyer and the sales price were not disclosed.

National and its partner, the Bulfinch Cos. Inc., had completed development of the 200,000-square-foot, six-story office building and adjacent 650-car parking garage in 2010 and achieved full occupancy at opening via a lease through 2027 with Forrester Research.

The LEED Platinum property features a full-service cafeteria; fitness center with yoga studio, locker rooms and showers: bike- and car-share programs; and electric chargers in the parking garage.

“Working with Bulfinch, we decided to take advantage of current strong interest from core buyers for high-income generating properties and sell into the demand wave,” Jeff Kanne, National’s president & CEO, said in a release. “While our strategy for the fund is to develop, stabilize and hold properties for the cash-flow benefits to our investors, we selectively will sell assets opportunistically earlier than their anticipated portfolio lifecycle when we can achieve outsized returns.”

“The sale further demonstrates the strong demand for investors to buy Class A stabilized assets in Boston’s urban core,” Bulfinch CEO Eric Schlager said in the release. “The asset generated broad interest in the market.”

The tech and life science sectors are driving office absorption and development in metro Boston, according to a third-quarter report from Marcus & Millichap, which predicted continued rising employment, strong net absorption (6.3 million square feet in 2014) despite substantial new construction, falling vacancy (a contraction of 110 basis points this year) and an average office rent increase of about 5.1 percent.

Further, the Cambridge submarket reportedly is doing better than most, with the Boston area’s tightest vacancy, just 10.2 percent.

On the acquisition side, the report said, “Class A and B-plus properties in established employment centers, such as Cambridge, Seaport District, and Downtown Boston, garner strong interest from institutions. These assets typically command cap rates in the low-5 percent range.”