Outlook for 2019

The View “on the Street”

The strong economy in Massachusetts continues to drive commercial real estate markets – asking office lease rates have increased throughout 2018 as demand for office space remains positive. Waltham is still the epicenter for new office deliveries and absorption, having six consecutive years of strong positive absorption. Burlington asking lease rates have increased from the low $20’s per sq ft to the low to mid $30’s per sq ft in the past three years. Similarly, Lexington has experienced increasing lease rates from the $20’s to the low $30’s for office space. Increasing demand and lease rates in the Rte. 128 towns of Waltham, Lexington, and Burlington has resulted in some tenants searching for and leasing space in Bedford where average lease rates have risen from the upper teen’s to mid $20’s and higher into the high $20’s for Class A space. This demand has resulted in very positive absorption of 150,000 sq ft during 2018 for Bedford.

Commentary:
Although office leasing rates have increased substantially in Burlington during 2018, absorption has been minimal and many feel that lease rates have plateaued – except for the high demand area of Burlington Mall Road and “The District” (a redevelopment of the previously named New England Executive Park).

Lab space continues to be in demand – with tenants searching for alternatives to the super
expensive cost of lab space currently offered in Cambridge. Therefore, Lexington, Bedford, Waltham, and Woburn have benefited from lab expansion and start-up company lab space demand.

Low interest rates (although recently rising slightly) compared to historical rates are still positive for development, property sales, and company expansion. Unemployment rates remain very low and we anticipate this to accommodate commercial property demand throughout 2019.

Companies requiring expansion space or anticipating lease expirations in 2019 and 2020 should commence their space search activity now in light of the competitive landscape and our forecasted future for 2019. Lease rates are higher than in the past few years in the Rt. 128 market and in Cambridge and are anticipated to remain elevated. The best practice would be to start property research now for any anticipated expansion or relocation in 2019-2020.

Individuals that need office space now have numerous alternatives for 2019 – to include
national and regional options from WeWork and Workbar and Regus – and also other smaller operators within the communities along Rte. 128. These offerings are fine for individual producers – and smaller requirements. They represent a cost effective alternative to traditional office space that requires typically a longer term space commitment. WorkBar seems to be a business model similar to Planet Fitness – where members “drop in” for a few hours a week and the open space concept can work for large numbers for clients who can be comfortable using a small space in a shared workplace environment.

Prediction:
Office leasing rates to “level off” for Class A space in the low to mid $30’s – with the exception of “trophy” product continuing to demand high $30’s; absorption to continue to be strong – with Waltham the market leader, Office vacancy rates to average in the 10% area – indicating a healthy overall market. We anticipate positive economic conditions for 2019 to continue to provide “tailwind” for company expansion, leasing activity, and re-development opportunities.

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Two Wells: High-class opportunity

Two Wells Avenue: a great opportunity with excellent access and a natural campus environment. Brand-new Class-A space!

We attended an open house at this brand-new on-spec property in Needham this morning, put on by listing brokers Cushman & Wakefield. Duncan Gratton was the lead broker, but we also met with Hunter Emerson (also a CB Commercial alumnus with Bruce Lee) who is the owner’s rep on the project.

The facility has 102,510 sf of available space on three floors, with 3.5/1000 parking ration in a beautiful suburban setting. It is just minutes from Rt. 128/I-95 at the Kendrick Street Bridge (exit 19A from the north, exit 18 from the south).  A “grab-n-go” food vendor will be locating in the main lobby. Space is ready for fit-out!

Dozens of restaurant and retail options are within a few minutes of the site. Local tenant neighbors include Trip Advisor, NECN, WB, Panera (Corporate), EMC and other national brands. It is minutes down the highway from I-90 and the office areas of Waltham and Burlington. The site is connected to nearby natural areas, including the Charles River, by walking trail.

Please let us know if you’d be interested in seeing how your company could fit into this great building. Office plates from 13,000 to an entire 35,000 sf floor are currently available. Call us today at 781 290 8101!

They even bring nature into the lobby with this great water feature:

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October Update: Energid for robotics applications

Lee Partners supported Energid Technologies Corporation who leased 3,698 sq ft of office and research space for 5 years at 213 Burlington Road.  This is a photo from a recent space planning session. CEO Neil Tardella, President & CTO James English, T3 Advisors Broker Colin Whitney, Building owner Kevin Curran; Architect Mike Hallor.

Energid Technologies develops advanced real-time adaptive motion control software for robotics.  CEO Neil Tardella and President & CTO James English were very impressed with the existing floor plan layout for the space a 213 Burlington Road – to include semi-direct access to the building loading dock that would allow for delivery and delivery of robotic equipment.  

In addition, the space has direct access from the parking areas and a dedicated entrance way allowing for excellent tenant exterior signage. High ceiling height and lots of natural light was an added bonus to the space. In addition, 213 Burlington Road afforded access to on-site restaurants flat bread pizza, Bamboo restaurant, Panera Bread, and The Melting Pot.  With ample parking and outstanding property management the new Energid office location is an ideal fit for the company.

Energid was represented by Colin Whitney of T3 Advisors and the landlord, CMT Realty, by Bruce Lee of Lee Partners of New England.

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REFA Fall Conference 2018

On Friday, September 28th, Bruce Lee and Grey Lee traveled downtown to the Boston Harbor Hotel to attend the Annual REFA Fall Conference. REFA is the Real Estate Finance Association, a component of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB), and Grey is a member. Here’s the view from the side of the hotel – looking at the “continuing to grow but very close to high water” Seaport district. 

It was a great event full of insight and prognostications.  The keynote presentation was “Commercial Real Estate: Then, Not and The Future,” moderated by Marci Griffith Loeber, managing principal, Griffith Properties. Panelists included: Bill McCall, founder and president, McCall & Almy; John Fowler, executive managing director, HFF and Ronald Druker, president, the Druker Company.

The second session was a panel discussion on the topic of “Commercial Real Estate Disruptors.” Moderator Steve Weikal, head of industry & alumni relations at MIT Center for Real Estate. The panelists included: Katie Sullivan, founding team, marketing & communications at HqO; Linda MacLeod Fannon, vice president, Elkus Manfredi Architects; and Sarah Travers, CEO, Workbar the coworking operation expanding into the suburbs. Also presenting was Kyle Corkum, of the Union Point development project at the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station.

 

After the program, we took a walk through the neighborhood. It was a bit blustery but not too rainy. We walked along the Rose Kennedy Greenway and found some cool stuff including a few green buildings!

Here is Grey at 225 Franklin Street, a LEED Gold building with a great new lobby:

Post Office Square was looking good, even if no one was sunbathing. Nearby we found the new Winter Garden at Boston Properties’ 100 Federal Street – a great new addition to the landscape:


It was a great walk through Downtown Boston, to see some of the great advances in building design and operation. We also found a new “parklet” built into the wide area of Franklin Street near where it crosses with Arch Street. Bruce approves!

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September Update from Lee Partners

54 Middlesex Turnpike: building improvements complete and new lease signed!

 

Lee Partners secured a long-term lease at the newly renovated building for Orthopaedics Plus / Spectrum Fitness. They are moving from a Burlington location to this prime spot in Bedford on Middlesex Turnpike. This is just minutes from the Rt. 3 – Rt. 62 interchange, the first exit north of Rt. 128. Orthopaedics Plus signed for 5680 s.f. of newly fit-out space in the north wing of the building, surrounded by trees and greenery.  It will provide a great experience for their customers.

Seen in this photo are the building owners, Kevin and Ian Curran and Orthopaedics Plus principal Justin Pezick. John Wilson of CBRE represented the tenant in the transaction.

 

 

DACON Corporation – a design-build specialist which has constructed millions of square feet of prime office space in the Greater Boston region was the contractor. They recently finished the multi-million dollar renovations of the property, including providing two new elevator shafts and two new entry atrium areas.

 

The building is currently available for lease for office, retail and restaurant uses.

 

Lee Partners is ready to help your company find a great location for your operations. We facilitate the negotiation process so you can relocate fast and keep your focus on your business.

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REFA Fall Conference – September 15, 2017

We attended the Real Estate Finance Association (REFA) Fall Conference in Boston last week and it was three hours of presentations and discussions by experts reviewing the current state of the commercial real estate markets in the Boston area – to include investment fundamentals, Tenant drivers, and project financing in today’s environment. Other topics touched upon included the impact of driverless vehicles, reduced parking demand, and artificial intelligence being used to drive data decisions for real estate and other aspects in our economy.

 

 

Investment Fundamentals – Low Interest rates are expected to be ongoing.  “In Boston the investment fundamentals are the best ever and the cycle has a way to go” – “although you need to be careful in the suburbs”.  Within a Foreign Investment Index Boston has recently moved up from the 27th to 7th place for top investment cities in the world – a huge jump in the rankings.  Sixty (60) percent of the trades in Boston are now being purchased by foreign investors – from Europe and Asia.  Trophy core assets have very strong interest although; the market is thin due to the lack of inventory.  One recent sales effort totaled over 100 property tours that resulted in 27 offers and led to 7 rounds of negotiations before a final buyer was selected.   Advices offered to owners of properties included reviewing the asset every quarter, focus on trends, and become more analytical in determining its current value. 

 

Tenant Drivers –

 

Boston:

 

In today’s market there appears to be two types of tenant decisions being made.  One is by the “gut” by the highest paid person and the second is led by “geek” deliberations that are “data driven”.  Driving decisions today is an ongoing “War for Talent” with “alpha geeks” in top demand.  This search for talent is real and a key factor in company relocations – especially in Boston.   Examples discussed included “Log Me In” and their move from Woburn to 100 Summer Street in Boston where their rent doubled – but resulted in a new workspace environment with all open space and no fixed walls as they could more easily recruit new talent and grow to a 4.0 billion dollar company.  AutoDesk moved from Waltham to the innovation district in Boston where they wanted a more innovative high energy environment and to be closer to employee talent and competitors.   PTC moved to the Seaport from Needham primarily to attract new talent.  Goodwin moved to the Seaport District (375,000 sf) upon their lease expiration to foster a new culture and workspace plus to provide a better “user experience” by creating a huge first impressionable lobby area with a concierge desk  where clients are given a personal escort to the top floor conference rooms.  In addition the move provided for more collaborative space, flexible configurations and increased tech efficiency.

 

In all of these relocations the decision makers were more interested in the location than the economics included in the transaction.  One statistic quoted was that when tenants pay $40 to $80 per square foot or more for their lease space, this is a very small part of the overall employee cost of $1,800 per square foot   As a side note, it was mentioned that young people are living in rental space twice as long now as they did in 1974 – for a variety of reasons – but the implication was that younger potential new employees are living and being more accessible for employment by renting for longer in the city.  Catering to talent is key to successful recruitment efforts.  Google on the West Coast is now building residential housing for employees and Twitter offers free food for employees plus one day a month employees are encouraged to bring a friend or family member for a free meal – also to show off their new facility – and as a recruitment tool!

 

Suburbs:

 

The Kronos move to the Crosspoint towers – a consolidation from 3 buildings to one – was driven by having increased employee collaboration as an incentive plus a raft of amenities to include quality food service, on-site restaurant, a first class work out facility, simulated golf and shuffleboard areas – getting employees to do things together.  Also, by providing this type of work environment, one goal would be to keep employees working longer to achieve more productivity beyond the normal 8 hour work-day. Similar sentiments were voiced at the Middlesex Coalition presentation last month in Burlington when the Millipore move to a single building site Burlington from their Bedford and Billerica operations was discussed in depth.  Employee collaboration, one full floor in the building devoted to high quality amenities, and having expansion pre-negotiated were key factors.

 

Financing Discussion:

 

One panel member offered “we are in the mid-point of the cycle and as a multi-billion dollar lender we are in “good shape overall” with very few problem loans.  2015 was a record year and increased activity is expected for all of 2017.  Capital is available; inflation is stable, strong demand for industrial properties – with office and retail requiring more scrutiny.  Another panel member stated that we are in the “later innings” of the cycle – but there are no reasons to panic.  He has placed $800 million so far this year in Boston with more expected by the end of the year.  Another panel member indicated we are “experiencing strong economic fundamentals” and they expected to place $ 80 billion in 2017.  Acquisition volume is down somewhat – but refinance volume is up.  The question came up as to how the panel members would finance “creative space” and would they loan on the tenant credit?  The answer was that the lender would not look to the tenant for backing of a loan – it would require the credit of the property owner and also require a view of the owner’s business plan.  Anything above a 70% loan to value would be a challenge for an acquisition placement.  For a over $ 100M loan one panel member indicated that their terms would range from mid to high 100’s over the current LIBOR rate, another indicated that a blended rate of mid to high 2’s could work; while the third panel member indicated that rates would be in the high 2’s or now 3’s for floating rates.  Loans in the 50 to 65 LTV areas would be more normal.  In my opinion these historically low LTV’s are one reason why the lenders are not worried about a future down-term in the market.  They are not over-leveraged as they were in the past cycle with landlords having substantial equity in their projects.

 

[After the meeting, we walked around Boston a little bit. It was a good day to check out a lot of the construction and development work going on.]f

Here’s a view of Fan Pier with the seaport area:

Here are some of the towers along the Rose Kennedy Greenway:

Here we are on Boston Common:

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Re-cap of Recent Activity at Lee Partners

2017 has been good for Lee Partners! We have worked with a number of great clients to help them find just the right space for their operations.

BeiGene – here is a view of the new offices for BeiGene USA – their HQ in Cambridge, MA.  Lee Partners Represented BeiGene in a five (5) year direct lease with Landlord for 14,931 sq ft of office space.

55CambrPkwy

Here’s the interior lobby of 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge, MA – a really classy location in the heart of Kendall Square – the global center of innovation for biotech.

55CambrPkwyLobby

BeiGene has a beautiful view from their new HQ space at 55 Cambridge Parkway, overlooking the Charles River

Viewfrom55CambrPkwy

Out in the suburbs, on the Route 3 Technology Corridor, Lee Partners represented both the buyer and seller in $5,200,000 47,000 sq ft. property sale at 54 Middlesex Turnpike, Bedford, MA.

55Middlesex 55MiddlesexEntrance

Nearby, at 155 Middlesex Turnpike, in Burlington, MA, Lee Partners represented the seller in this $2,200,000 office property sale.

155MiddlesexTurnpike

Lee Partners also represented Broadcast Pix in the relocation of their HQ location from 3 Federal Street in Billerica to 27 Industrial Avenue, Chelmsford, MA

BroadcastPixEntrance BroadcastPixOffice

We also represented IDEX America in the relocation of their USA HQ office facility from Tewksbury, MA to 187 Ballardvale Street, Wilmington, MA.

IdexOffice

Spinning Wheels Express– Lee Partners represented Spinning Wheels Express in their HQ lease renewal at 1600 Osgood Street, North Andover, MA.

SpinningWheelsHQ

Another client was StopLift Vision Systems –Lee Partners represented StopLift in the relocation of their USA headquarters location to 186 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, MA.

Stoplift

On the retail side of things, we were able to help Sullivan Tire with this 5 year lease renewal for the very successful Bedford, MA Sullivan Tire Store.

SullivanBedford

And don’t forget our exciting assignment in Tampa, FL: here we have a big opportunity: Exclusively Listed for sale at $6,000,000 – a rare new hotel site in downtown Tampa FL!

TampaAvail

 

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IDEX America relocation to Wilmington

Bruce Lee represented IDEX America, Inc in the recently negotiated move from their office space at Three Highwood Office Park in Tewksbury, MA to approximately 15,000 sq ft of office space at 187 Ballardvale Street, Wilmington, MA.

The IDEX America relocated office will provide R & D and engineering support to IDEX ASA, Norway. The process was lead by Bruce helping to negotiate the transaction with Henrik Knudtzon the CFO of IDEX America, located in Norway. Despite the distance
clear communication was maintained throughout the process and a very competitive lease deal was reached. Kristen Ryan, office manager for this Massachusetts facility was extremely helpful in coordinating the move details along with engineering VP Guido Bertocci.

Occupancy is scheduled for September 1, 2017. Christopher Lawrence of JLL represented the owner Griffith Properties and he provided professional services throughout the negotiations.

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BeiGene Research & Office relocation to Cambridge

During the end of 2016 Bruce Lee of Lee Partners on behalf of BeiGene negotiated a sublease with Alexion Pharmaceutical Company allowing BeiGene to relocate from Waltham to the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, MA.

This was a follow up transaction to when Bruce helped to negotiate a BeiGene small start-up office suite at Reservoir Place in Waltham for Howard Lang CFO – opening with only two employees in 2015.

BeiGene, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, commenced start up operations in
Waltham based upon a license occupancy agreement with Boston Properties – leasing 1,400 sq ft on a short term commitment at Reservoir Place. Bruce also helped to negotiate a 600 sq ft. expansion – also on a limited license basis at the same building.

As it became apparent that BeiGene would expand its local presence, Bruce led the efforts to identify and secure a much larger facility – resulting in the sublease from Alexion Pharmaceuticals at 55 Cambridge Parkway, Cambridge. The sublease also included in-place furniture and a right to expand within the sublease term. A sublease expansion option was exercised and BeiGene did expand into the entire sublease space consisting of almost 15,000 sq ft in August 2017.

In parallel with the sublease expansion, Bruce led the efforts for Lee Partners and was
successful in negotiating a direct 5 year office lease deal with the building owner 55 Cambridge Parkway LLC. that will secure this location for BeiGene for the long term.

During the start-up process in Massachusetts Howard Lang BeiGene CFO was key executive decision maker. He was helped in the relocation process by consultant Eva Macarthur. Dan Maller also with BeiGene led the BeiGene efforts to secure the long term lease. Representing Alexion Pharmaceutical in the sublease was Connor Barnes, VP with Cushman & Wakefield of Massachusetts. Representing the building owner throughout the sublease and direct lease were Jeffrey Moore and Christopher Scott both Vice Presidents with the Lincoln Property Company.

Here is the view from their new space:

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Sale of 52-54 Middlesex Turnpike, Bedford, MA

55MiddlesexEntrance

The two-building complex located at 52-54 Middlesex Turnpike was purchased by Kevin Curran of Curran 54 LLC from Jeff Goldberg and David Smerling, owners of Bedford Executive Office Suites, LLC during March of 2017.

The 47,000 sq ft and 8,000 sq ft building complex, sited on 6.5 acres, is located in the newly extended section of the Middlesex Turnpike in Bedford that reaches from Burlington to Crosby Drive in Bedford – where many of the leading technology companies in the area are located.

The 8,000 sq ft building is occupied by The Goddard School on a long term basis.

A total renovation of the 47,000 sq ft. Class C office building will start on September 6, 2017 when the building will be transformed into a Class A, mixed-use, office and retail campus.

SD-2 first floor renderingNew Building RenderingThe General Contractor for the renovation project is Dacon Construction headed by President Dennis Quinn. Chuck Riley VP for marketing at Dacon and Jeff Price
Lead estimator were critical in developing the renovation plans and pricing. Dennis McCarthy, lead architect for PDA architects, an in-house division of Dacon, is the lead architect for the project.
Bruce Lee was part of the team that originally sold 54 Middlesex Turnpike to Jeff and David almost 20 years ago. In addition, Bruce represented The Goddard School and the owners of 54 Middlesex Turnpike in securing a long term build-to- suit lease with The Goddard School. Bruce represented both the buyer Kevin Curran and the seller Bedford Executive Office Suites, LLC in the most recent-purchase/sale transaction.

55Middlesex

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