European Retailer Primark Signs First U.S. Lease in Boston

Dublin-based budget fashion retailer Primark has signed a long-term lease for four floors in the eight-story Burnham Building, part of the Millennium Tower development in downtown Boston.

PRIMARK Dublin-based budget fashion retailer Primark has signed a long-term lease for four floors in the eight-story Burnham Building, part of the Millennium Tower development in downtown Boston, it was announced Wednesday by Cushman & Wakefield, which represented the landlord, Millennium Partners. For its first store in the United States, Primark will lease a total of 112,000 square feet, of which 70,000 will be selling space.

The building, which is in Downtown Crossing, a shopping district between Boston Common and the Financial District, was designed by architect Daniel Burnham and completed in 1912 for Filene’s Department Store. Last summer it began to undergo renovations, which are scheduled to be completed next year.

That restoration is part of Millennium Partners’ $689 million redevelopment plan, the key part of which is the adjacent Millennium Tower, a 60-story building with 500 luxury residential condo units and three floors (68,000 square feet) of retail. The tower is currently under construction, with first occupancy scheduled for summer 2016.

Millennium Tower will be Boston’s fourth-tallest building and will connect at the lower levels to the Burnham Building.

The Cushman & Wakefield leasing team was led by vice chairman Gene Spiegelman, Kazuko Morgan and Emily Ou. Spiegelman noted a previous lease at the Burnham Building, for 37,000 square feet, to Roche Bros., a Massachusetts supermarket chain.

The Primark lease brings the Burnham Building to 97 percent occupancy, Mario Palumbo, a partner at Millennium Partners, said in a release.

Founded in Dublin in 1969, Primark is a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, a major British multinational food processing company. The clothing retailer currently operates about 270 stores (some in Ireland branded as Penneys) in nine European nations.

“Their story is pretty much the same as what we’ve seen in the U.S. with Marshalls, Ross and T.J. Maxx,” Garrick Brown, director of research for Cassidy Turley, told Commercial Property Executive. “The economic downturn has driven middle-class consumers in Europe to them, so I see them doing well here so long as the same economic conditions linger here.”

“I suspect that they will ramp up U.S. expansion very quickly,” Brown added. “Because they work with slightly larger footprints, they might be very helpful in back-filling vacancies from players like Kmart, Sears and JCPenney.”