The Top Real Estate Dynasties In Boston, Part II
Beantown is ruled by several generations that have wielded an influence in higher education, retail, multifamily and office construction. From Newbury Street to Gillette Stadium, here is the latest chapter in Boston’s real estate dynasties.
The Perry Family (A.W. Perry)
Founder: Alonzo W. Perry, a successful shoe manufacturer from Rockland, entered real estate after closing his shoe factory at 125 Summer St. in Boston. It was here that he began subleasing space to other, smaller businesses in need of office and manufacturing facilities. In the 1980s, the company assembled the block around the site of its original 1884 office and spearheaded the development of 125 Summer Street, a 22-story, 463K SF Class-A office building.
Famous Properties: A.W. Perry is one of the city's oldest real estate firms and is most noted for its 1989 landmark restoration of the Berkeley, a six-story, 114K SF building at 420 Boylston St. Known as a crown jewel of Back Bay, it was the first building in Boston to be honored with all three of the Building Owners and Management Association’s “Office Building of the Year” awards: local, regional and international.
Famous Members: The company just experienced a milestone in its 133-plus-year history as leadership was passed on from the Perry family’s fourth generation to its fifth. Richard Beal was appointed the ninth president of the company last month. He takes the reins from Jack Spurr, who recently retired from his role as president after 35 years with the company. Jack remains on the company’s board of directors as vice chairman and continues to oversee Perry’s residential development division on the South Shore. Kerri Gallaway, also a fifth-generation family member, is the company’s senior vice president/property portfolio & marketing director. Rich’s father, S. Maxwell “Sandy” Beal, was the company’s sixth president.
The Wexlers (Elaine Construction)
Founder: Leo Wexler. Born to Russian immigrants, Leo was a striver who made a significant impact on the construction community. He was responsible for bringing the first Liebherr tower crane to the United States from Germany and worked with architects in bringing prefabricated forms to create a structural skeleton and many other industry innovations.
Famous Properties: The Wexler family’s construction projects include the MIT Student Center and phases 3 and 4 of Harvard’s Holyoke Center.
Famous Members: Ken Wexler, chairman of the board, and his daughter Lisa Wexler, the company’s current president, are the second and third generation to own and operate this 70-year-old business. Brothers, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, sons and in-laws work at and support Elaine’s thriving business. The employees are like family; multiple generations work in the field and office. It is not uncommon for employees to have decades of service at Elaine, according to the Wexlers.
The Cummings Family (Cummings Properties)
Founded: 1970 (as Cummings Industrial Centers)
Famous Properties: Located on the former site of the historic United Shoe Machinery Corp., the company’s 2M SF Cummings Center in Beverly is the largest office and tech campus on the North Shore. Cummings also created and published the Woburn Advocate, Stoneham Sun and Winchester Town Crier newspapers.
Famous Members: Bill and his wife, Joyce, are prominent local philanthropists who co-founded the Cummings Foundation, which has awarded more than $140M in grants to greater Boston nonprofits. They were also the first Massachusetts couple to join the Giving Pledge, an international philanthropic organization started by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
The Talanians (C. Talanian Realty Co.)
Founder: Charlie Talanian was a broker in Boston in the 1930s. He had a building in Back Bay he could not sell, so he bought it and grew his real estate company from there.
Famous Properties: The Talanian family owns and manages one of the largest real estate portfolios on fashionable Newbury Street. They also won a bidding war last year for 903 Boylston St. (home to Lir Irish Pub). Their newest property, at 300 Cambridge St. in Beacon Hill, was originally a Grampy’s Gulf gas station, which they recently converted into a five-story, 25K SF mixed-use property. SoulCycle Beacon Hill is the retail tenant and Torit Montessori School is building out 15K SF in the building.
Famous Members: Charlie’s son Charles Talanian serves as president of his family’s company and is viewed as the one responsible for growing its real estate portfolio into what it is today. He has bought, sold, renovated, built and held over three dozen buildings in Back Bay over the span of his career and is the single largest individual property owner on Newbury Street. Chris Talanian represents the family’s third generation and is director of business development. He was previously a project manager with Suffolk Construction.
The Leventhals (The Beacon Cos.)
Founder: Brothers Norman and Robert Leventhal founded Beacon Construction Co. (later known as The Beacon Cos.). The company got its start remodeling stores, constructing 40 toll booths on the New York State Thruway and, later, public and military housing. Larger projects in the 1960s, like Wellesley Office Park and Government Center’s Center Plaza, enhanced their clout within greater Boston.
Famous Properties: Beacon Cos. is behind some of Boston’s better-known properties: Rowes Wharf, 75 State St., the Langham Hotel and the 1989 modernization of South Station. Norman spearheaded the revival of Post Office Square by transforming a two-story parking garage eyesore into a 1.7-acre park.
Famous Members: Alan Leventhal, Norman’s son, is founder and CEO of Beacon Capital Partners, which at one point owned the John Hancock Tower and Manhattan’s 1211 Avenue of the Americas (Fox News’ headquarters). He previously served as president and CEO of Beacon Properties Corp., which was one of the largest REITs in the country. (The two companies are unrelated.)
The Krafts (The Kraft Group)
Founded: 1972 (when Robert Kraft purchased his father-in-law’s Worcester-based packaging company)
Founder: Robert Kraft
Famous Properties: While the Kraft family is best-known for owning the New England Patriots, it is behind a significant amount of CRE. The Kraft Group has an in-house construction and development team responsible for $3B worth of projects like the Patriot Place shopping center in Foxborough and adjacent Gillette Stadium.
Famous Members: Bob Kraft might be the most recognized face of the family, but his sons Daniel, Josh and Jonathan also work with him at the Kraft Group. Jonathan is president of the company, chair of the finance committee at Massachusetts General Hospital and serves on the board of dean’s advisers at Harvard Business School. Daniel is president-international of the family business and serves on the board of directors for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Josh serves as president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, and is on the board at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. A fourth son, David, left the Kraft Group in 2012 after a dispute with his father.