BOSTON-Berkeley Investments made its entrance as a major player in the Downtown development pool, acquiring a 12-office-building portfolio in the Fort Point Channel area from Boston Wharf Co. for $100 million. The investment marks the transformation of Berkeley from an investment management firm that has primarily concentrated on suburban investments, to a developer whose primary focus will be on major Downtown projects.

“The location of this portfolio of properties, along with the long-term potential to maximize future development, makes this acquisition a very attractive opportunity for Berkeley,” says Rick Griffin, vice president of acquisitions for Berkeley, in a statement. “South Boston’s waterfront, specifically the Fort Point District, is emerging as an up-and-coming neighborhood and we look forward to being a key player in this transformation.”

The portfolio consists of 12 offices totaling 700,000 sf, along with two parking garages and four surface parking lots with space for nearly 1,000 cars. The office buildings are mostly clustered at the intersection of Congress and Farnsworth, and are 332, 348, 354, 368, 374 and 381 Congress St.; 12, 33, 34, 41, 44 Farnsworth St., and 22 Boston Wharf Rd. Don Hause of GVA Thomson Doyle Stevens represented the seller and procured the buyer.

Berkeley’s preliminary long-term plans for the property include upgrading the space, amenities and services for the newer or recently rehabbed properties, and to convert the older assets into upscale condominiums or higher-quality office space. Berkeley is also exploring opportunities to convert the ground floors of some of the older buildings into upscale restaurants, entertainment venues and retail.

“The architecture of many of these buildings, with their brick walls and beamed ceilings, make the ground floors perfect for restaurants, art galleries and small shops,” says Young Park, president of Berkeley. “We see the potential for this area to become Boston’s version of [New York's] Tribeca.”

Berkeley Investments was represented by attorneys Richard Toelke, partner, and Maurice Sullivan, associate, of Bingham McCutcheon LLP. Boston Wharf Co.’s representation was not available at deadline. Wachovia Securities was the lender.

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