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Berkeley Investments' Watch Factory mixed-use project in Waltham is drawing tenants away from other buildings and towns like urbane Cambridge and rural Wilbraham. Intrigued, we dropped by to gauge the appeal of the 400k SF complex listed on the National Register of Historic Places, where some of the first mass-produced time pieces were once manufactured.
FloDesign Wind Turbine's Katie Fileccio, Matthew Page, Patrick Kealy, and John Kulungian outside Watch Factory office, near Charles River
We snapped FloDesign Wind Turbine's Katie Fileccio, Matthew Page, Patrick Kealy, and John Kulungian who illustrated one of the Watch Factory's major draws right outside their windows, a bucolic stretch of the Charles River, just 20 minutes from downtown Boston. On June 1, the startup moved in, relocating part of its staff from the Western Mass. HQ in Wilbraham. Matt said the alternative energy manufacturer liked the complex's historic value,manufacturing heritage, and prime location near Moody Street restaurants, cinemas and clubs. On the practical side, there's easy access to transportation— highway, rail, busand the metro area's skilled workforce: ?We need to be near top talent.?
Attorney John Rogaris at Watch Factory office
John Rogaris moved his law firm here in May after a 9-month search for space. ?Everything else was cookie cutter,? says John, who's partial to the Watch Factory's wood beamed ceilings, exposed brick, gym and Charles River neighbor. He parks on the far side of the 1,000-foot long site, ?just to have a few minutes to look at the water, people, boats and ducks.? (Hey John, we'll never tell.) Meanwhile, Wellogic, which provides data exchange technology for healthcare providers, plans to relocate here from Cambridge in October, a coup for Berkeley.
Berkeley project manager Eric Ekman
Berkeley project manager Eric Ekman, at the historic display in the lobby. Berkeley bought the 23-building complex three years ago and in September '09 completed the $48M core and shell renovation on the 177k SF Phase I. The developer plans to start construction in September on the $35M Phase II, 96 rental apartments and two restaurants. A two-bedroom will rent for about $2k/mo, while office space leases in the mid-$20's, net electric. For Phase I, Berkeley secured bank construction financing plus about $14M in state and federal historic tax credits purchased by Tax Credit Finance and Bank of America. Eric likes to point out another tenant-friendly feature, 5700 windows and relatively narrow floor plates that give almost everyone natural light and a view.