"It's a beautiful spot and we want to continue to stay there,"ACA chairman William Ghormley tells GlobeSt.com in explaining whythe sale/leaseback model is being employed. "We're very comfortablewith it."

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Besides being among New England's longest-held privateproperties, 14 Beacon St. also holds a bit of television nostalgiaas the perceived office of television character Ally McBeal. RBJinvestment sales broker Richard Herlihy is not surprised theeight-story property was singled out for that purpose givenaccoutrements such as large arched windows and a grand façadesporting intricate reliefs. "It photographs like nobody'sbusiness," Herlihy says of the 73,000-sf building.

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Inside, the two-level library on the second and third floorsoverlooks Boston's famous Granary Burial Ground, creating apastoral setting that the ACA wants to preserve. But Ghormleystresses that the building's attributes are more than skin deep,having been constructed to support printing presses on the topfloor. "It's heavy duty," he says, adding that the ACA has alsospent money upgrading 14 Beacon St., including roof replacement andinstallation of a fire suppression system.

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Beyond the goal of financing its electronic library for useglobally and funding scholarships to foster research of historicalreligious orders and related topics, Ghormley says the ongoingmaintenance responsibilities contributed to the ACA's decision todivest 14 Beacon St. "We wanted to shift our energies and focus onour mission," he says, noting that the group is heavily reliant onvolunteers. Fourteen Beacon St. also houses several like-mindednon-profit tenants, requiring asset management duties as well.

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The sale-leaseback concept is gaining momentum for many owners,as exemplified by the just-completed agreement between AbtAssociates of Cambridge and the New Boston Fund. In a dealexclusively reported by GlobeSt.com, NBF paid $25 million for theconsulting firm's longtime home in Cambridge's Alewife District.While unclear at the time of the earlier article, sources havesince confirmed that Abt is leasing back the premises for another10 years. That transaction is said to be part of an investmentstrategy by NBF to pursue sale/leasebacks of corporateheadquarters.

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The arrival of 14 Beacon St. on the sales block comes in aperiod when foreign capital and other investors are clamoring tobuy into Boston's established areas such as the Back Bay and BeaconHill. "I think it is going to be really well-received," saysHerlihy, who is handling the assignment with colleague RichardBradbury.

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Ghormley indicates the capital-laden landscape was not a drivingfactor in opting to sell, explaining the ACA board has beendebating whether to take that route for five years. The deliberateprocess ultimately could be rewarded, as evidenced by thejust-completed sale of the nearby 8 Mount Vernon Place. In 2001,the Universalist Unitarian Association traded that 7,800-sfbuilding where its printing operations had been for decades,fetching $3.9 million in the process. Just last week, however, thesame building traded again, but for $9.3 million, more than doublewhat the UUA reaped. "The timing is definitely good," acknowledgesGhormley.

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