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QUINCY, MA-It has been a hot year so far for commercial real estate sales throughout Boston’s South Shore, and now the National Fire Protection Association is stoking the activity even more with the purchase of a five-story, 105,000-sf office building adjacent to the group’s headquarters. Batterymarch Park II traded for $17.4 million, or about $168 per sf, after being owned since 2001 by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association.

According to sources, Cushman & Wakefield’s Capital Markets Group was broker in the transaction, but principals in the real estate services firm’s Boston office declined comment, citing client confidentiality. Efforts to contact officials at NFPA and TIAA were unsuccessful by press deadline. NFPA is headquartered at Batterymarch Park I, part of a complex developed in the mid-1980s. NFPA does already own its building and Batterymarch III, a 107,000-sf property.

Although users have taken advantage of low interest rates to acquire their properties outright in recent years, buyers possessing an investment strategy have also been targeting suburban Boston, as evidenced by the blockbuster sale this spring of an office/flex portfolio in Braintree to KS Partners for $52 million, plus Griffith Properties buying the HealthSouth tower in downtown Quincy for $17.4 million. In Stoughton, HN Gorin Co. acquired the former Reebok headquarters for $46 million, and investors have a number of other prime assets in various stages of changing hands.

Suburban Boston’s rebounding economy is expected to help foster rental accretion on the South Shore, especially as rates in nearby Boston and the Central Route 128 belt soar toward record levels. When similar spurts have occurred in the past, the South Shore has been an immediate beneficiary, particularly for tenants needing back office space or expansion capabilities. On the leasing end, activity was sluggish for the first half of the year, according to C&W figures that show negative absorption of 177,000 sf in the second quarter, a result that wiped out modest gains from the opening frame. The vacancy rate for the 11-million-sf market is 13.6%, and the average rental rate is $19.64 per sf.

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