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WALTHAM, MA-This community at the core of the suburban Boston office market is seeing another property hit the sales block, as Bluestone Holdings Inc. has retained Cushman & Wakefield to peddle Waltham Place, a pair of first-class buildings the Newton-based firm has owned since February 2001. Totaling 202,000 sf, the properties at 266 and 275 Second Ave. were purchased by Bluestone for $44.6 million, but are expected to fetch well beyond that mark.

While declining to offer any pricing estimates, broker Elizabeth Carrillo Thomas of C&W’s Capital Markets Group says she expects Waltham Place will garner substantial attention from investors looking to participate in the region’s anticipated rebound. The C&W executive director is overseeing the assignment in partnership with C&W principal Marci Griffith Loeber. “It’s a fabulous location,” Thomas says of the park, citing both visibility along Route 128 and quick access to both that major thoroughfare and the Massachusetts Turnpike. Route 20, connecting to several bedroom communities, is also near by, she notes, a key given Waltham is considered valuable for tapping into the region’s skilled labor market.

Besides benefiting from the stronger economy, Waltham Place has fared well under Bluestone’s stewardship, adds Thomas. The properties were among a half-dozen Bluestone secured earlier this decade after concentrating previous investments outside New England, such as Houston. The tenant roster at Waltham Place offers stability through 2010, says Thomas, and rents by that point are expected to be even higher for Waltham than at present. Until then, Waltham Place is fully occupied by a number of technology firms, with CSC Consulting Corp. the prime tenant.

Bluestone took over the buildings just as Waltham was hitting one of its most difficult periods ever, but after several years of sluggish activity, the city has emerged as one of the busiest suburban sectors in the country. Rental rates have returned to above $40 per sf for top deals, according to several mid-year market reports, and vacancies have fallen into the single digits. According to one report by C&W, the Route 128 Central market anchored by Waltham now has a vacancy rate of 9.5%, the only suburban submarket presently under 10% among seven tracked.

As a result of Waltham’s resilience, the market has seen a considerable amount of sales activity this year, with the Bay Colony Corporate Center and 175 Wyman St. among the major transactions to date in 2007, and Divco West preparing to secure another three buildings at Prospect Hill. Investors who lost out on those opportunities now have a fresh batch to consider, as Waltham Place is among a cadre of properties now changing hands. C&W is also marketing Somerset Court in Waltham, for example, and Normandy Real Estate Partners confirmed last month it is marketing 400 Fifth Ave. as part of a portfolio sale.

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