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The 10 Biggest Real Estate Investment Deals During Boston’s Hot Summer


Investors continue to pump billions of dollars into Boston’s commercial real estate landscape, juicing what is already the nation’s most liquid market. 

Boston pushed past Manhattan as the nation's most liquid real estate investment market over the year’s first six months, according to a June Real Capital Analytics report. While Manhattan in the past year slipped in RCA's investment metrics including number of unique, active buyers and institutional volume share, Boston saw relatively little change from pre-pandemic fundamentals, powered by active multifamily, life sciences and industrial markets.

The summer kicked off with Alexandria Real Estate Equities$815M agreement in June to buy One Rogers Street and One Charles Park in East Cambridge, which had just sold for $468M at the beginning of the year (the deal is expected to close in December). Alexandria’s 74% increase in price was a sign of a market starving for life sciences space.

The biggest players in commercial real estate closed on record-setting deals in Boston, encouraged by record-high life sciences funding, skyrocketing demand for regional e-commerce distribution centers and the need to house the workforce that will power the economy. Bisnow compiled a list of the 10 largest sales across property types that closed over the summer.

One Memorial Drive

The One Memorial Drive office tower in Cambridge.

Buyer: MetLife Investment Management and Norges Bank Investment Management
Seller: Oxford Properties, J.P. Morgan Asset Management
Price: $825M
Submarket: East Cambridge
Asset Class: Office

MetLife and Norges Bank secured on Aug. 26 the 409K SF East Cambridge office tower for a record $2K per SF in the largest single-asset office transaction in the U.S. this year so far, the firms said. The tower is fully leased to tenants Microsoft and tech company InterSystems and sits blocks from the Kendall Square life sciences cluster. 

The buyers said they plan to upgrade the building, which they called a trophy property, to meet MetLife’s carbon emission reduction program. The building is one of the largest offices in the Cambridge market, a suburb that has performed slightly better than Boston this year with a vacancy of 10.2% in Q2 2021 compared to Boston’s 15.6% vacancy rate, according to Colliers research

Oxford and J.P. Morgan bought the 17-story building in 2014 for $405M from Blackstone, part of a larger area portfolio acquisition. The developer also converted a floor of parking into office space for InterSystems. The previous owners said net operating income of the building is 55% higher than when they bought it.

Eastdil Secured brokered the transaction for Oxford and J.P. Morgan.



NEMA Boston at 399 Congress St. in Boston.

Buyer: KKR
Seller: Crescent Heights
Price: $332M
Submarket: Seaport
Asset Class: Multifamily 

Private equity giant KKR spent $802K per unit on July 9 for the 21-story, 414-unit Seaport luxury residence, among the highest prices per unit in city history, researchers said. NEMA Boston, part of Crescent Heights’ upscale multifamily brand, sits at 399 Congress St. in the heart of the Seaport and opened in November, offering rentals from $2,745 per month for studios to $7,880 per month for three-bedroom units.

Crescent Heights broke ground on the site in 2016 and built the tower for $175M. KKR secured a $169M mortgage from Capital One for the deal, according to Suffolk County land records. The property is KKR’s first significant area multifamily asset, as it had previously only invested locally in two local tech companies and loaned $375M to a downtown office asset earlier this year.

The deal was part of a busy summer for multifamily investments, with buyers encouraged by the thriving life sciences market expected to flood the market with highly paid workers. Rents have also rebounded in the Greater Boston market to place their averages among the highest in the nation.


Avalon North Point and 10 Glassworks Ave.

The 1 Leighton residential tower in East Cambridge.

Buyer: Blackstone
Seller: Avalon Bay Communities
Price: $325M
Submarket: Cambridge
Asset Class: Multifamily

Weeks before KKR’s splash, Blackstone’s LivCor multifamily arm paced the multifamily market in late June with its acquisitions of the 426-unit, 22-story tower and adjacent 103-unit loft building, 10 Glassworks Ave. Blackstone paid $281M for the tower, or $660K per unit, and $44M for 10 Glassworks, or $427K per unit in separate transactions.

AvalonBay purchased 1 Leighton from Archstone in 2008 and converted 10 Glassworks from a former hot dog factory into lofts in 2014. The properties sit alongside the MBTA’s Green Line Branch and less than a mile from Kendall Square.


Two Financial Center

Two Financial Center at 60 South St. in Boston.

Buyer: Nan Fung Life Sciences Real Estate
Seller: Lincoln Property Co., ASB Real Estate Investments
Price: $210M
Submarket: Downtown Boston
Asset Class: Office

Nan Fung secured its third asset in the downtown Boston area in the past 12 months, buying on Aug. 21 the building home to a 121K SF KPMG office. The previous owners had spent millions on an amenity upgrade, including adding a 4K SF rooftop deck at the Chinatown building.

Hong Kong-based Nan Fung in 2020 purchased One Winthrop Square, a five-story, 111K SF office building in downtown, for $75M, and the 153K SF lab and office 51 Sleeper St. in the Seaport for $115M. The developer hasn’t announced plans for Two Financial Center.

LPC and ASB built Two Financial Center for $110M in 2009. The sale was ASB’s latest cashout on a life sciences asset. The Washington, D.C.-based private investor sold 91 Hartwell Ave., also jointly owned with LPC, in Lexington for $38M this summer.


Cambridge Highlands Campus

The Cambridge Highlands Campus in Alewife.

Buyer: Healthpeak Properties
Seller: Clarion Partners
Price: $180M
Submarket: Alewife
Asset Class: Life sciences

The Cambridge Highlands Campus, sold on Sept. 8, is among the largest purchases in the past year in Alewife, the West Cambridge neighborhood increasingly sought as an alternative to Kendall Square. The portfolio includes 229K SF of combined lab and office structures, including a Raytheon facility.

Irvine, California-based Healthpeak has risen among the nation’s largest life sciences developers with 11.3M SF of lab inventory, only trailing in the market to giants BioMed Realty and Alexandria. In Alewife, it also invested $720M last year in the nearby 620K SF Cambridge Discovery Park. 

New York-based Clarion has remained active in the region, purchasing a 58K SF biomanufacturing facility in Alewife in April. The developer purchased the Highlands campus from Goldman Sachs Realty Management in 2013 for $60.5M. The Cambridge Highlands Campus portfolio includes five empty plots, some of which are paved for parking. 


The Reserve at Burlington

The 270-Unit Reserve at Burlington multifamily property.

Buyer: Equity Residential
Seller: The Davis Cos., Principal Real Estate Investors
Price: $134.5M
Submarket: Burlington
Asset Class: Multifamily

The Reserve apartment community was built in 2019 with 270 units and includes 35K SF of indoor and outdoor amenity space. Equity made the purchase in early July as apartment price tags continued to rise. The developer paid $498K per unit, well above the $329K per unit Greater Boston average in Q2, according to Lee & Associates research

The property, just the third multifamily project in Burlington in the past 15 years, was 96% occupied at the time of sale, The Davis Cos. and Principal said in a statement. The apartment complex sits 16 miles north of Boston, or less than a 30-minute drive.

At the time, it was the largest Greater Boston multifamily transaction of the year, eclipsing spring suburban deals in Malden and Lawrence that each neared $100M. While the cap rate for The Reserve transaction wasn’t disclosed, cap rates in Boston sat at 4.6% in Q2, below the national average of 5.4%, according to Lee & Associates. 

Simon Butler and Biria St. John of CBRE represented the sellers in the transaction.


One Canal Park

Two Canal Park, left, and One Canal Park in East Cambridge.

Buyer: Breakthrough Properties
Seller: Intercontinental Real Estate
Price: $131M
Submarket: East Cambridge
Asset Class: Office

Breakthrough, the new life sciences joint venture by Tishman Speyer and Bellco Capital, acquired its first Cambridge property in early July. The four-story, 101K SF building includes 16K SF of retail space and sits next to two other Canal Park office buildings and the Cambridgeside mall.

The office, built in 1983, was home to Hubspot before it terminated its lease to move to the adjacent Two Canal Park earlier this month. The Canal Park portfolio spans 426K SF and is clustered near the under-construction MBTA Lechmere Station. Intercontinental, which still owns Two Canal Park and Ten Canal Park, paid $72M for One Canal Park five years ago when it spent a combined $304M for the three-building portfolio. 

Breakthrough, which has raised more than $1B for its Life Sciences Property Fund, broke into the market with its development of 105 West First St. in South Boston, a site it purchased for $80M in 2019. Gene editing company CRISPR Therapeutics has already signed a full-building, 263K SF lease at the project.  

112 Barnum Road

The 402K SF warehouse at 112 Barnum Road in Devens.

Buyer: The Seyon Group
Seller: Artemis Real Estate Partners
Price: $85M
Submarket: Devens
Asset Class: Industrial

The only industry hotter than life sciences might be industrial, where land-starved developers are either paying top dollar for Interstate 495-area assets or moving out of the Greater Boston region entirely. The Seyon Group on Aug. 20 bought the 402K SF, fully leased warehouse in Devens, a central Massachusetts town emerging as a cluster for biomanufacturing. 

The site was built by a solar manufacturer in 2008 for $162M, but the company went bankrupt in 2011. Boston-based Calare Properties and Los Angeles-based Hackman Capital Partners joined to buy the vacant property for $8M in 2012, before flipping it for $36M in 2015 to Artemis. 


Rivertech Park

Rivertech Park at 129 Concord Road In Billerica.

Buyer: Rockpoint Group
Seller: Jumbo Capital Management
Price: $85M
Submarket: Billerica
Asset Class: Office

Boston-based investor Rockpoint on July 7 added the 286K SF flex office and research and development asset to its small Boston portfolio. The complex at 129 Concord Road approximately 25 miles northwest of Boston includes long-term tenants, a Jumbo representative said in a statement.  

Rockpoint, which has a national portfolio, locally owns a 1,386-unit community in Malden and three downtown Boston office towers totaling a combined 2.9M SF, all purchased in the past four years. 

The 28-acre office Rivertech Park sits along the Route 3 corridor, part of a suburban office market struggling to climb back to pre-pandemic fundamentals. Vacancy for suburban Class-A and B assets rose slightly to 18.8% in Q2, according to Colliers, and nearly 3M SF of sublease space remained in the market. Suburban lab space, however, is just as hot as in the Boston and Cambridge markets, with 3.4% vacancy in Q2.  


Amelia Apartments

The Amelia Apartments at 10 Faxon Ave. in Quincy.

Buyer: Waterton
Seller: Greystar Real Estate Partners
Price: $84M
Submarket: Quincy
Asset Class: Multifamily

Chicago-based Waterton got the summer investment market rolling with its June 23 purchase of the 10-story, 200-unit apartment building in Quincy. The purchase is Waterton's second area acquisition after buying the 503-unit Rosemont Square in Randolph last November. 

The 15-year-old building includes 50 newly renovated units, and Waterton said it will implement a value-add program to upgrade the remaining 150 homes. Waterton also said it would upgrade building amenities including the fitness center, clubhouse and outdoor deck.

Waterton, which scoops up value-add properties outside downtowns, benefited from the pandemic when rents declined in urban cores, opening up new investment opportunities. The firm is now active in pursuing Class-A properties once out of its price range, Waterton Head of Investor Relations Michelle Wells told Bisnow earlier this year.   

“You are seeing pricing get disrupted in the urban core,” she said.