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BOSTON-In the wake of MetLife’s departure from four floors in the building, Beacon Capital Partners has proposed a major renovation of 501 Boylston St., the 10-story building located in the Back Bay. The locally based company bought the property from MetLife Inc. in a leaseback deal for about $130 million in late 2002. The company says the renovation will increase its investment in the building to $185 million.

Beacon, which is renaming the building the Newbry, says it will initiate plans soon to file a project notification form with the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The company says its main goal in the redevelopment is to “reconnect the building to its lively and unique urban context.” Beacon notes that the building has become removed from its surroundings and its plan will “reweave it back into the bustling Back Bay neighborhood, creating a focal point on all three streets onto which it fronts.” The building is bounded by Boylston, Berkeley, Newbury and Clarendon streets.

The renovation involves doubling the building’s current retail space from one floor to two into a total of 112,000 sf of space. Beacon emphasizes that this is a key element of the project as the new two level retail which will help link the lower part of Newbury Street with upper Newbury Street. The street is among the city’s most upscale retail area. Half of that space will be existing office space converted into retail space while the other half involves the rehabilitation of the existing retail space. Beacon estimates that the retail activity will generate an estimated $60 million annually.

The space that has been vacated by MetLife on floors seven through ten will be renovated into 250,000-sf of first class office space. MetLife continues to occupy floors three through six totaling 240,000 sf. The plan also includes the expansion and upgrade of an existing private health club in the basement as well as an addition of 29 spaces in the basement parking bringing that number up to 95.

“This building truly presents a rare opportunity,” says Douglas S. Mitchell, senior vice president of development at Beacon Capital Partners. “The building has tremendous potential. In terms of retail, the potential of this location is great and yet to be realized.”

The building’s leasing agent for office space, CBRE/Lynch Murphy Walsh Advisors, says there is strong interest in the building’s available 250,000 sf. According to Trammel Crow Co.’s most recent statistics, the Back Bay’s overall availability rates are at about 18%. Lease rates for first class office space in the area are about $35 per sf. The Wilder Cos., a Boston-based firm, is handling the retail leasing for the building.

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