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BURLINGTON, MA-Accentuating a busy start to the 2007 CRE sales market, an abutter has snagged one of suburban Boston’s top investment prizes, the 158-acre Sun Microsystems campus. The Nordblom Co. and affiliate Nordic Properties paid $212 million for One Network Dr., which encompasses 800,000 sf of existing office space and has permits in place to construct another 570,000 sf.

“It’s a significant step for the Nordblom Co.,” VP Greg Anderson says in acknowledging that the real estate firm has closed on the eight-building asset, located adjacent to Nordblom’s 140-acre Northwest Park. In a related action, Sun Microsystems has inked a lengthy leaseback commitment for 450,000 sf, providing a measure of stability as remaining space is repositioned to accommodate multiple tenants. The sales process had generated considerable speculation about how large a presence Sun would retain, and the final outcome was on the high end of industry estimates.

Not only is the commitment a boon to Burlington, the leaseback by the Santa Clara, CA-based technology firm was “very appealing” to Nordblom, says Anderson, helping justify the pricing paid to secure the property. The aggressive bid was needed to beat back a tide of competition, with several firms said to have eclipsed the $200-million level. Brokers for the deal at Jones Lang LaSalle did not provide specifics, but managing director Michael Smith characterized investor interest as “amazing,” especially given the complexities of the deal such as the leaseback component.

“This once again underscores the depth of global capital focused on the Boston marketplace,” relays Smith, whose investment sales team included managing director Cappy Daume and SVPs Scott Jamieson and Gail McDonough. JLL’s investment sales division has brokered several regional office transactions already this year, including the $67-million sale of the Burlington Woods Office Park to Griffith Properties LLC and Urdang Capital Management, a deal first reported by GlobeSt.com in June.

Nordblom is assessing long-term elements of its purchase, says Anderson, including the amount of integration to be incorporated between Northwest Park and the Sun campus, and whether any synergies can be accomplished in management of the properties. Nordblom will handle the management assignment, and is also working to re-brand the new addition. At the outset, however, the focus is on finding new tenants while at the same time keeping disruptions for the current operations to a minimum, says Anderson. “We are very mindful of the Sun culture,” he stresses, explaining that Nordblom is assisting the firm as it centralizes occupancy at the park. The exercise should free up about 300,000 sf in two main buildings that will be the initial properties for lease.

As a venerable presence in Burlington, with Northwest Park dating back to the 1950s, Nordblom welcomes the opportunity to open up the Sun campus, according to president Peter Nordblom. “For the first time, this property will be available to tenants in the marketplace seeking a desirable, first-class environment in a vibrant community,” says Nordblom. While welcomed by the town when Sun announced plans for One Network Dr. in the late 1990s, the single-tenant nature kept the development isolated, notes Anderson. That fortress image is expected to ease over time, he says, especially in relation to Northwest Park, a development Nordblom has been trying to reposition into a multi-use entity featuring retail and housing.

To familiarize the business universe with its new trophy, Nordblom has retained JLL as exclusive leasing agent. “The existing infrastructure in these buildings offers incredible value to prospective tenants,” says JLL managing director Tamie Thompson, who will orchestrate the leasing campaign with JLL SVP Dan Cordeau and AVP Dan Kollar.

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