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BOSTON-Downtown’s office and investment markets have seen significant growth in the last 12 months as companies and investors look to the city for long-term value, a panel of leasing and investment experts said at yesterday’s RealShare Boston.

“There’s a lot of growth in the marketplace. Certainly there’s good velocity and good growth,” Glenn Verrette, vice president of leasing for Equity Office Properties told brokers who gathered at Boston’s first RealShare Conference. Verrette was among a panel of five experts to discuss the outlook for leasing, investing and development in the Downtown market at the event, hosted by Real Estate Media, parent company of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com.

The panel, headed by moderator David Fitzgerald, executive vice president with CB Richard Ellis/Whittier Partners, said they are seeing more investment dollars coming into Boston recently, with a lot of that money coming from pension funds eager to bolster their real estate portfolios. “There’s so much capital in this market looking for transactions and it does not seem to be going away,” noted Thomas O’Brien, managing director with Tishman Speyer Properties. O’Brien advised conference attendees to “look for offbeat deals” in the marketplace rather than chase deals that the competition also is focusing on. “Look for transactions in places that others don’t see,” he said. “Put tenants in [vacant space] and good things will happen.”

Those good things are already happening in Boston’s Back Bay district where older properties are now drawing interest as trendy Downtown office space. “Back Bay right now is viewed very favorably by the investment community,” noted Richard Herlihy, vice president of investment sales for Richard Barry Joyce & Partners, adding that the Back Bay’s low-rise brownstones and nearby amenities have made it an office alternative to the high-rise towers of the city’s Financial District.

Don Hause, managing director of GM Thompson Doyle Hennessey & Stevens, said that while there is still a lot of space available in the Back Bay, the submarket has fared well against its high-rise competition. But developers are finding that even Boston’s high rises have potential, Hause noted, as more developers eye them for condo conversions.

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