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BOSTON-Apparently, the Irish investors who shelled out close to $500 per sf for one Downtown office building earlier this summer did not spend their money all in one place, with the same buyers having now purchased 30 Winter St. a few blocks away. The $30.2-million sale of that 12-story, 87,000-sf building was also quite healthy, coming in at just under $350 per sf.

“We’re certainly happy with it,” says Edward Nardi, president of Cresset Group LLC, a locally based real estate firm that had teamed with Great Point Investors to buy 30 Winter St. in November 2001 for $12.05 million. That equates to just $138 per sf, providing a substantial boost over what the partnership paid nearly six years ago. The hot investment climate was one reason the owners chose to test the markets, says Nardi, explaining that Cresset and GPI were prepared to hold onto the asset for up to 10 years had conditions not been optimal.

Cresset and GPI did make capital investments at 30 Winter St. during their tenure, upgrading the entrance and elevators, restoring the roof and providing tenant improvement dollars to keep space in the 34-year-old building fresh. Nardi credited Cushman & Wakefield broker Jay Driscoll for bolstering the leasing roster as listing agent, and adds that the investment sales group at Meredith & Grew that marketed 30 Winter St. also was instrumental in achieving a return above expectations. That team was led by M&G EVP Lisa Campoli. “It couldn’t have gone any smoother,” says Nardi of the process, praising the buyers for conducting an efficient due diligence program and closing the deal without complications despite the recent capital markets turmoil.

“It was a deal that worked for all sides,” concurs Campoli, who orchestrated the sale with M&G VP Nicholas Herz. The hefty price paid reflects that investors remain bullish on Boston’s office market, she says, indicating there is rental rate accretion looming for older assets, buildings that are expected to see demand rise as tenants look for ways to escape the highest escalations at class A office towers.

The 30 Winter St. buyers, who acquired the asset as the 30 Winter Street Owners LLC, were financed by a $26.2-million mortgage from Anglo Irish Bank. The lending institution was also the backer for those investors in June when they paid $33.9 million for 45 Milk St. At that price, the 70,000-sf property fetched nearly $490 per sf, an astounding mark for an asset of its size and age. Although 45 Milk St. does have a tenant roster worthy of a class A building and is in a first-class location, the property has smallish floor plates and has a lineage dating back to the early 20th century. And while $350 per sf might have seemed an ambitious goal a year or two back, Campoli says the prices set by 45 Milk St. and other buildings makes it seem a relative bargain today. Pension funds and other institutional sources joined overseas investors in making a play for 30 Winter St., she reports.

From his standpoint, Nardi says he believes 30 Winter St. will also offer a measure of stability thanks to recent tenant additions. The overhaul of the nearby Filene’s Basement building into a mix of commercial space should be a further benefit to Winter Street once completed in 2009, according to Nardi, whose firm estimates that upwards of $750 million in new investment is pouring into the area. Cresset is a value-added real estate firm that active in both Boston and suburban Massachusetts. GPI is also a local firm with a track record of investments in Greater Boston.<p.

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