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BOSTON-At a time when large blocks are in scarce supply throughout the city’s tightening office market, a fresh option has appeared, and once again as a result of the continued cycle of mergers and acquisitions that has reshaped the corporate landscape here in the new millennium. In the latest instance, business consulting firm Keane Inc. has retained GVA Williams to sublease its property at 80-100 City Sq. in the city’s Charlestown district, offering upwards of 95,000 sf of first-class office space. The decision follows Keane’s $854-million acquisition by Caritor Inc. earlier this year.

“It’s a good alternative to a Financial District price point,” says GVA Williams principal John Hennessey. Even in anticipating a rent in the high $30′s per sf, the sublease would represent a substantial discount to Downtown, relays Hennessey, given that asking rates there are beginning to scrape $90 per sf. Considering the high-end quality of the space, Hennessey says the economics should be especially attractive to Financial District tenants because that core market is just a 10 minute walk. The eclectic North Station area is even closer, and is fast becoming a chief beneficiary of the $14.8-billion Big Dig project. New residential, restaurants and retail options are springing up daily, and North Station is also home to a major regional transit center and thousands of parking spaces.

On the latter matter, 80-100 City Sq. is adjacent to a below-market parking lot available to tenants, and has immediate access to a ramp for Interstate 93. Logan International Airport is a five-minute ride, Hennessey estimates, and there is also an aqua alternative thanks to a nearby water taxi stop connecting to the airfield. Transit convenience was among the factors cited by Keane when the company leased 80-100 City Sq. in 2001, and Hennessey notes that the area has since significantly improved on that count.

Once among Boston’s grittier neighborhoods and dominated by industrial uses, Charlestown has gradually seen more office product developed in the past decade to where it is today about a 3.2 million sf submarket, according to GVA Williams. “The numbers are really quite strong there,” says VP Chris McMahon, who is handling the Keane assignment with Hennessey and GVA colleague Steven Lombardi.

Partners Health Care has become a dominant tenant, leasing 800,000 sf between research space at the Charlestown Navy Yard and various administrative offices at the Schrafft’s Center. Owned by the Flatley Co., the Schrafft’s Center became Charlestown’s first legitimate multi-tenanted office building when the cavernous 610,000-sf building was renovated in the late 1980′s after serving as headquarters of the famous candy maker for decades. The district’s maturation was further advanced in the 1990s when Nordic Properties converted a milk plant into modern space catering to technology tenants.

Of the 3.2 million sf in Charlestown, about one million sf is considered class A, which has a vacancy rate of just 5.8%. The dearth of options should further enhance the marketability of 80-100 City Sq., predicts Hennessey, who adds that the space will be sub-dividable to 25,000 sf. Coupled with a remaining term of more than seven years makes Keane’s sublease “a legitimate option for lots of companies,” says Hennessey. Keane, meanwhile, plans to relocate into properties already occupied by Caritor. One likely destination is Cambridge’s Harvard Sq. at 625 Mount Auburn St.

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