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CAMBRIDGE, MA-A New York investment firm is the entity that purchased a Cambridge commercial block earlier this week, brokers orchestrating the deal have acknowledged. Jones Lang LaSalle broker Scott Jamieson tells GlobeSt.com that Meritage Properties is the buyer of 485 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge’s revitalized Central Square. Documents listed Meritage principals Andrew Nathan and Arthur DellaSalla as the purchasers, and Jamieson confirmed speculation that the investment was being made on behalf of their real estate firm, based in Scarsdale, NY.

“They are excited about the acquisition,” says Jamison, whose Boston-based capital markets group represented the seller, long-time Cambridge businessman Arnold Goldstein. The divestment was initiated by the departure of lead tenant SEA Consultants, an event calling for repositioning 485 Massachusetts Ave., explains Jamieson, with Goldstein ultimately opting to leave the challenge to someone else. “This is right up their alley,” Jamieson says of the buyers. Meritage is in the midst of trading another local value-added venture it acquired in 2005. JLL is also broker on that 12-story, 202,000-sf office building.

Besides the property itself, which is registered as 479, 485 and 493 Massachusetts Ave., Meritage purchased an accompanying parking lot. While parking is scarce, several bus lines operate out of Central Square, which is also serviced by the Red Line subway. That option provides transit to both Downtown Boston in one direction and is one stop away from Harvard Square westbound.

Goldstein is among a group of local businesspeople credited with helping Central Square rebound after a difficult stretch in the 1980s and 1990s defined by crime, crumbling infrastructure and darkened storefronts. The district has benefited in the new millennium from public and private redevelopment campaigns, including a sprawling mixed-use complex built by Forest City Enterprises. New storefronts and the arrival of international companies such as Novartis AG have also been deemed as key to the turnaround. Meritage “really likes the positive things that are happening” in Central Square, relays Jamieson.

As an office submarket, the combined Central and Harvard Square inventory of 1.9 million sf is a fraction of the 16.4-million-sf Cambridge total, but future development is expected to occur as a spillover from the dominant Kendall Square market to the east, especially as rents continue to escalate in that area. At mid-year, JLL had the average asking rent for East Cambridge at $41.72 per sf versus $37.62 for the Central/Harvard Square slot. Central/Harvard did have a slow opening half of 2007, with JLL recording negative net absorption exceeding 51,000 sf. The vacancy rate is now 7.4%.

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