January 2, 2015

Bruce Percelay Didn't Intend to Sell Record Setting Allston Building

Boston's supercharged multifamily market is evident in Mount Vernon co-CEO Bruce Percelay's $148M sale of three multifamily buildings he built in Allston that “dramatically” exceeded expectations. For the inside scoop, join Bruce and other experts at Bisnow's Boston Multifamily event, Jan. 15 at the Sheraton Boston, 7:30am. Sign up here!.

Bruce didn't intend to sell the mid-market complex he developed for $74M, but the offer from buyer National Development--a new high for this cycle--was too “compelling.” He almost couldn't afford to keep them, Bruce tells us. Next he's planning more multifamily developments in Allston, Brighton, Belmont and East Cambridge near Kendall Square, which he calls the hottest office market in the world. There's an unprecedented number of new Boston-area apartments in development, but Bruce asks, at what point will developers tip the market into oversupply? 

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2015 will be a record year, with the recently developed Arlington in Back Bay possibly selling for close to $1M/rental apartment, some sources say. Another panelist at our Jan. 15 event, IPA director Jennifer Athas, declined to comment on that prospect but says 2014 metro area fundamentals have been strong: the economy is solid and the city gained 48,000 jobs. In and around Boston, 7,700 new apartments may be delivered (up from the 4,570 in 2013). New supply will be heavily concentrated in Cambridge, Somerville and Boston. On the 2015 condo front, newly built units will hit the market at Lovejoy Wharf, Pier 4 and 121 Portland St in North Station. Prices will range from $1,500/SF to $2k/SF. Raw shell space at the Chanel building on Newbury Street is selling for $1,300/SF, Jennifer says. See you at Bisnow's Boston Multifamily event, Jan. 15, Sheraton Boston, 7:30am. Register.

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Building Boston's Largest Mixed-Use Project Since Reagan Isn't Easy

The $600M One Seaport Square recently started 2.5 years of construction just steps from Boston Harbor, says Berkshire Group SVP of development Heather Boujoulian, who's managing the project (above with managing director Eric Draeger). What makes One Seaport Square unusual is its size and configuration: an underground parking garage covered by 250k SF of retail with street-level fronts and 832 apartments above. It will bring a critical mass of retail to the emerging Seaport neighborhood.    

Since the site is so close to the water—and the “land” is actually fill, not solid ground—conditions dictate slurry wall construction, which will take an extra 12 months. While slurry sounds like a 7-Eleven drink, think of the wall as a 30-inch-thick concrete bathtub that will line the entire site. Workers are now pouring concrete into the excavated hole, says John Moriarty (the GC) project manager Joel Dyson. During and after slurry wall installation, they're draining the site of groundwater with sump pumps. As they dig, they reinstall the pumps that remain on site until the exterior is built and closed, and a permanent power system functioning.  

Before that happens, there are usually some surprises, Joel tells us. During pre-excavation, the Moriarty crew hit an old granite block seawall. The workers could see the water rising and falling with the tide and the blocks were a real chore to remove. The site was backfilled with “lean” concrete that could harden even though the water was still in place. 

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What Secrets Should We Bury in the State House?

On Jan. 6 at the Museum of Fine Arts, officials will open the nation's oldest time capsule, long ensconced in a corner of the original Charles Bulfinch section of the statehouse. The contents will be studied, new items added and the cornerstone replaced, Secretary of State's spokesman Brian McNiff tells us. In 1795, on the 20th anniversary of US independence, Paul Revere, Sam Adams and William Scollay placed the metal box filled with an engraved plate, coins dating back to 1652 and other memorabilia into the cornerstone. In 1855, the box was exhumed and more items added. What do you think should be put into the time capsule to reflect our life and times? Tell us.

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We're still looking for that three-clawed lobster. What's been your best catch so far? Tell susan@bisnow.com.