SOMERVILLE, MA-Bernard Chiu says he is not looking to own allthe commercial buildings in Greater Boston, just a few of thebetter ones–and in buying 212 Elm St. here, the founder of UplandCapital maintains he has furthered that aim. “It's a great piece ofproperty and a great location,” Chiu tells GlobeSt.com in detailingreasons for paying $20 million to secure the four-story, 65,000-sfasset in Davis Square, the city's core business district.

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Upland is buying 212 Elm St. from a tenant-in-common investmentgroup organized by Paradigm Properties, a Boston-based firm thathad owned the asset before the TIC took control two years ago.Paradigm held a minor interest in that entity as well, says companyprincipal John Caldwell, and despite the total departure now, thefirm remains enamored with 212 Elm St. “We love it,” Caldwell says,and having been retained by Upland as property managers, Paradigmwill be able to keep a close association to the structure goingforward. Chiu also announced that Meredith & Grew VP TheodoreLee has been retained as leasing agent.

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A well-rounded businessman whose other ventures have included aconsumer appliance company and a musical instrument business, Chiuhas been purchasing commercial real estate in Massachusetts fornearly four years. In March, Upland acquired One Mifflin Place inabutting Cambridge for $9.2 million, and also has suburbanproperties in Milford and Framingham. Among the company's betterknown addresses is 745 Boylston St. in Boston's Back Bay, aneight-story, 109,000-sf building that serves as Upland Capital'sheadquarters.

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Despite a steady increase in assets, Upland is in no rush toexpand its portfolio, says Chiu, typically picking up a handful ofbuildings each year. “We are very careful,” he explains, usuallyeschewing riskier assets such as those in off locations or needingto be repositioned. Upland is wary of getting caught up in biddingwars, he adds, but when an opportunity is identified, the companycompetes, he stresses. “If I bid on something, I am very serious,”he says.

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According to Caldwell, 212 Elm St. was shopped around quietly toa few choice prospects, several of whom did submit offers. Brokershandling the process were Lee and M&G SVP Leigh Freudenheim. Inbeating out the remaining suitors, Chiu says Upland felt 212 ElmSt. had the qualities he is looking for, including a stable rentroll anchored by Arrowstreet, a nationally known architecturalfirm. Citizen's Bank is a tenant for the retail, while a filmproduction company helps fill out the office portion. “I think itis the best commercial building in Somerville,” says Chiu, adramatic viewpoint given the thickly settled community is rife withsuch product. Rent rollover is at a minimum over the near term,says Chiu, who is further mollified by the proximity to Cambridgeand Downtown Boston, both a quick ride on the Red Line subway thatcourses under Davis Square.

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