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WOBURN, MA-After previously divesting its commercial real estate holdings in suburban Boston’s northern region, Campanelli Cos. of Braintree has elected to return by acquiring 8 Presidential Way for $11.5 million in partnership with Commonfund Real Estate Investments. The 104,000-sf building will be upgraded to modern office space and renamed the Presidential Woods Corporate Center.

“It’s a great property,” Campanelli director of leasing Peter Brown tells GlobeSt.com. The building abuts Woburn’s MetroNorth Corporate Center, a mixed-use project championed by National Development in the late 1990s. Neighbors include American Tower Corp., Analog Devices, Arqule, Paychex and Raytheon Corp. The latter firm is the major tenant at MetroNorth, occupying 435,000 sf at 225 and 235 Presidential Way. MetroNorth was forged from the former Superfund site made famous in the movie “A Civil Action,” and has won accolades for restoration of the one-time environmental disaster.

Located on a 13.8-acre parcel, 8 Presidential Way was purchased from Sanmina SCI Corp. Based in San Jose, CA, the electronics equipment manufacturing firm had ceased operations at 8 Presidential Way in 1999. Bought under the entity CFRI/CO Woburn LLC, the new ownership acquired the two-story building vacant. Beyond announcing the name change, Brown would not provide details of the strategy, but observers say the approach will likely be similar to Campanelli’s acquisition of the Granite Woods Corporate Center in Braintree. That two-building park was recently renovated into modern office space, an effort that this spring won a coveted 40,000-sf lease with Travelers Indemnity Insurance Co., a deal initially reported by GlobeSt.com.

Brown did say he believes his firm’s extensive history of value-added investments and repositioning properties “will be a great benefit as we tackle the leasing of Presidential Woods Corporate Center.” The partnership, he adds, was encouraged by the regional demographics, 8 Presidential Way’s proximity to a major commuter rail station within close walking distance, and access to Route 128 and Interstate 93. Part of the MetroNorth project was construction of a new ramp onto I-93 less than a mile from the Route 128/I-95 exit. There is also a new Marriott hotel close by, as well as numerous restaurant and retail options.

Among those anticipating a positive result is Brian McKenzie, a principal at Richards Barry Joyce & Partners in Boston, which brokered the sale to Campanelli and CFRI. “The development opportunities provided by the site are unparalleled in the Route 128 North market,” says McKenzie, who represented the seller and procured the buyers on an RBJ team that included James Lipscomb, Richard Bradbury and Richard Herlihy.

After a difficult stretch to begin the decade, Route 128 North has been among the top performers in the suburbs, dropping its vacancy rate from levels approaching 40% to a current mark of 23%, according to RBJ. “We really like what’s happening there right now,” Brown says of the submarket, one which RBJ pegs as having 24.1 million sf of inventory.

The Woburn venture is not the first between Campanelli and CFRI, with the companies also marketing a major business park in Boston along the southern flank of Route 128. Now celebrating its 60th year, Campanelli has developed more than 15 million sf of industrial, office and warehouse space throughout Greater Boston. Commonfund Realty is the CRE arm of Commonfund, the largest manager dedicated to investing for nonprofit organizations. In the past 20 years, Commonfund has made deals in 18 states accounting for more than $2.7 billion, and presently manages $40 billion for more than 1,600 foundations and institutions.

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