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MIDDLEBOROUGH, MA-It has been a difficult year for commercial real estate owners in Interstate 495 South, with the smallest office submarket in Greater Boston somehow managing to outpace all others in negative absorption through mid-year. Finally, however, a positive outcome has occurred in the subleasing of more than 15,000 sf at 151 Campanelli Dr. in Middleborough.

“For that submarket, this is a good-sized deal,” reports Cushman & Wakefield senior director J.P. Plunkett, who represented tenant Brown and Caldwell in the pact that will allow the environmental engineering firm to relocate from a nearby building and expand its space by 100%. The sub-landlord is Eastern Bank, while the asset is owned by Campanelli Cos. of Braintree. Plunkett was joined by C&W colleagues Cathy Minnerly and Jason Bryer as leasing agents for Brown and Caldwell, while Eastern Bank was represented by James Griffin of GVA Williams.

Eastern Bank had assumed the lease following its purchase of a local competitor. The sublease will encompass about half of the single-story building, says Plunkett, providing a “top of the line credit tenant” there to run out the remaining six years on Eastern Bank’s commitment. Headquartered in Walnut Creek, CA, Brown and Caldwell is a 60-year-old firm with 45 offices and more than 1,500 professionals.

Brown and Caldwell had explored alternative properties in such surrounding communities as Bridgewater, Foxborough and Mansfield, but Plunkett says the firm had hoped to remain in Middleborough. “That was their focus all along, and they are excited they could accomplish that,” says Plunkett, who adds that the firm hopes to relocate from 48 Leona Dr. by December following minor modifications at 151 Campanelli Dr. “It’s basically plug-and-play space,” Plunkett says, but some logistical adjustments will be required.

At 2.8 million sf, I-495 South is well behind the second smallest suburban Boston office submarket among seven tracked by C&W, the 4.5-million-sf MetroWest region. As of mid-year, however, the negative absorption of 286,000 sf not only accounted for 10% of I-495′s office inventory, it was also double the negative 133,000 sf recorded in the Route 128 South submarket, the only other of the seven to finish in the red to that point. “It helps,” says Plunkett of the latest deal. “It shows that Middleborough has an office market that is growing.” For most of the summer, the buzz locally about the community has been its bid to host a Native American casino resort, but Plunkett says the sublease indicates mainstream corporate companies are also attracted to the town.

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