Related Beal Buys 4-Building Property in Boston from Fidelity Investments

Related Beal has bought the 343,000-square-foot The Block on Congress from Fidelity Investments in a sale-leaseback transaction that allows the new owner to make plans for the near future.

The Block on Congress

Related Beal now has a four-building collection of office and retail space–plus a parcel of land–spanning a full city block in downtown Boston as a new canvas. The company recently announced the acquisition of the 343,000-square-foot The Block on Congress from Fidelity Investments in a sale-leaseback transaction that allows the new owner to make plans for the near future.

“We have the opportunity to deliver interesting and unique space to the marketplace with an efficient, larger floor plate that is not a tower,” Stephen Faber, executive vice president of Related Beal, told Commercial Property Executive. “We are unique in that we the meet demand for transit-oriented, urban space which combines modern infrastructure with classical design elements and we can deliver up to 200,000 square feet.”

It’s a grouping of historic buildings smack in the middle of Boston’s financial district. The largest of the four is 82 Devonshire St./35 Congress St., a 13-story structure featuring approximately 250,000 square feet. Built in 1908, it is also the oldest in the bunch.  The 14,-story, 48,800-square-foot building at 68 Devonshire St. was erected in 1914, followed a year later by the 12-story, 35,400-square-foot building at 19 Congress St. And the six-story structure at 15 Congress St., encompassing 9,800 square feet, came along in 1920. The vacant parcel carries the address of 54 Devonshire St.

Under Related Beal’s ownership, some things will remain the same, some will change. Fidelity will continue its occupancy at The Block for an undisclosed period of time, but that will not interfere with Related Beal’s plans for transforming the portfolio–and retail will play a huge role in the effort.

“The buildings were originally designed to have retail on the ground floors,” Faber said. “Quaker Lane [which runs through the middle of the portfolio] presents a great opportunity to create a unique restaurant environment in the heart of the financial district. Bringing retail activity from the vastly improved Washington Street corridor down to Post Office Square, one of Boston’s most active business oasis, is intuitive to us.”

The first step in capitalizing on the series of storefront space the portfolio provides will begin at 82 Devonshire/35 Congress, where Related Beal will conduct a repositioning and releasing campaign designed to pair renovated office offerings with 38,000 square feet of marquee retail space. The project is scheduled to reach completion in late 2015 or early 2016.

Related Beal purchased The Block through the Related Real Estate Recovery Fund, which, having closed with $825 million in equity commitments in 2012, paves the way for much more acquisition and development activity to come.