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Continuing its strategy of pursuing investments that appeal to multiple tenants, Paradigm Properties of Boston is buying a vacant manufacturing facility on Sylvan Street that it plans to turn into 300,000-sf of office space. Acquisition and renovation costs are projected in the $17 million range.

“It’s got some real character that we think will appeal to the market,” says Paradigm president Kevin McCall. The property was shuttered three years ago as part of a downsizing program by owner Osram Sylvania.

McCall would not discuss financials, but sources say the hulking brick building was being offered for $7.5 million. The broker, Greg Klemmer of Klemmer Associates in Winchester, declined to offer specifics until the property closes, but says he believes it will work well as an office. It was previously marketed for manufacturing and flex space, but Klemmer says the strong office market is pushing demand farther out into the North Shore.

“It’s in a very good location,” says Klemmer, noting there are three exits off Route 128 nearby the building, which is also close to a major strip of shopping centers and restaurants and the bedroom communities of Marblehead and Lynnfield. Whatever the attractions, activity certainly has been solid in the area, with Spaulding & Slye Colliers research analyst Ben Breslau reporting a 5.1 % vacancy rate in the North Shore market, down from 11.1% at the start of the year. He says the 7.2-million-sf market has seen 800,000 sf of net absorption thus far in 2000 after 850,000 sf in 1999.

“That market has ticked up considerably,” says Breslau. According to McCall, that trend will continue, adding that he believes the Danvers property will appeal to high-tech tenants. Paradigm has not selected an architect, but is considering redevelopment plans for the building. Besides meeting a need for space in a tight market, McCall maintains that older industrial buildings lend themselves well to office use, providing greater flexibility in space planning, high ceilings and an ability to create unconventional designs.

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