CONCORD, MA-Thanks to a 10-year lease with nearby Emerson Hospital, the owners of 196 Baker Ave. in Concord are anticipating healthy returns in putting the three-story, 46,000-sf office building up for sale. “The timing has worked out really well,” acknowledges 196 Baker Ave. LLC principal Travis Snell, whose Concord firm has retained Eastdil Secured’s Boston investment team to peddle the 19-year-old property.

One observer anticipates a price approaching $15 million, substantially above the $4.9 million Snell and partner Bruce Gurall paid in November 2005 along with capital partner Citigroup.

There is no set asking price, says both Snell and Eastdil Secured broker James McCaffrey, but both concurred that the confidence rendered by the Emerson Hospital pact should make 196 Baker Ave. a popular target, especially among institutional investors.

“I can’t think of a better stabilized situation to be bringing into this market,” says McCaffrey, whose selection as brokers comes under a month after six colleagues and he joined Eastdil following several years at Trammell Crow Co. The veteran team also celebrated the closing last Friday of a $71.5 million portfolio sale in Massachusetts, headlined by a 600,000-sf office/flex park in Danvers.

In some respects, the completed and upcoming deals have similar elements, including a measure of stability in the larger transaction, which includes a 120,000-sf warehouse in Franklin fully leased to a solid industrial tenant. The package of 14 Forge Park Blvd. and Cherry Hill Office Park in Danvers also represents a quick turnaround, with the joint venture of Newton-based National Development Associates of Newton and Principal Financial Group having acquired the complex just 18 months prior to the sale to Brookwood Properties, a local investor.

“The park has always leased well,” says McCaffrey, and is considered even more attractive after extensive renovations, physical plant improvements and an active leasing renewal campaign.

“They added a ton of value,” says McCaffrey of National/Principal. Major tenants at Cherry Hill are Medtronics and Siemens. Along with McCaffrey, other Eastdil Secured brokers orchestrating the sale included Peter Joseph, Chris Phaneuf and Sarah Lagosh.

As for 196 Baker Ave., McCaffrey praises the ownership team for quickly responding after buying the asset and realizing one of its chief tenants, Earth Tech, was angling to depart. Given the close proximity to Emerson, “a household name” in the state’s healthcare sector, the owners were able to strike a deal to convert the building into an MRI center and medical office space. Besides “a wagonload of capital” that the tenant will invest to make the conversion, McCaffrey says the overall quality of the building and its location near Route 128 should lure a good cadre of buyers.

If nothing else, 196 Baker Ave. carries an impressive pedigree, having been constructed in 1988 by a team that included Related Cos. developer Kenneth Himmel. “We’ve been in the area for more than 25 years, and we always thought it was one of the most attractive buildings around,” says Snell, whose firm secured the property for a bargain compared to the previous ownership, a California-based firm that paid $7.3 million in 1996. The facility was originally constructed as a build-to-suit, but has been a multi-tenanted property in recent years. Everday Wireless continues to occupy space there on a short-term basis.

One reason industry experts anticipate a surge of suburban sales in 2007 is due to buyers pursuing higher yields compared to what can be had in core city deals. In the case of 196 Baker Ave., however, the level of competition anticipated will require the winning bidder to accept a lower return, according to observers, including one well-heeled investor who has opted to stay out of the fray.

“It will get a ton of interest,” concedes the source, further maintaining that Eastdil Secured’s platform and the local contingent should lure even more prospects. “They are hitting the ground running,” the source says of Eastdil’s newest sales contingent.

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