BOSTON-Proving plenty of life remains in the commercial real estate sales sector–especially for core product–Spanish investor Ponte Gadea Group is acquiring 50 Milk St. for close to $170 million. Sources say the price far exceeds the $123 million the 21-story, 275,000-sf office building fetched barely two years ago. It also beats the prognostications made when the asset was put up for sale in August.

“It’s a shot of good news,” one source tells, particularly given the dour mindset among industry participants. Eastdil Secured was retained to sell 50 Milk St. just as the subprime mortgage morass was seeping across to the commercial side. Talk of discounts and rampant re-trading led some experts to warn that even well-regarded deals were facing a price correction. Many are still predicting a 10% to 15% discount from peak levels and say the depressed climate could linger into 2008.

Cities such as Boston, however, appear to be bucking any such trend. Property continues to move through the sales pipeline, often accompanied by hefty price accretion. The ongoing wave of overseas capital is one reason. Irish funds are particularly active locally, but cross-border funds are hardly unilateral. The Middle East and Germany are well-represented, Australian investors are returning, and 50 Milk St.’s Spanish suitor is poised to make its second high-profile deal in the city in a matter of months.

Ponte Gadea made headlines in August when it paid close to $50 million for a large retail condominium in the Back Bay. The firm is owned by billionaire Amancio Ortega, an internationally known financier whose firm is also buying in Miami and New York City.

Efforts to contact Ponte Gadea were unsuccessful by press deadline, while investment sales specialist James McCaffrey in Eastdil’s Boston office declined comment on 50 Milk St.’s status. Sources, however, insist the tower is under contract and proceeding toward a close.

The property is among a bevy of major assignments being handled by Eastdil in Greater Boston, with the firm brokers for the CrossPoint office towers in Lowell as well. Eastdil is also peddling the Boston headquarters of State Street Bank Corp., a deal previously unveiled by Among the top assets in New England, the 36-story, 1.1-million-sf One Lincoln St. could trade north of $1 billion, according to estimates.

In the meantime, 50 Milk St. will apparently yield plenty of profit for the James Campbell Co., the Hawaiian investor who bought the tower in May 2005 for $447 per sf. The seller in that deal, an Australian fund represented by Barrington Capital Partners, had paid $109 million in 2002, or $396 per sf. Fifty Milk St. is considered valuable due to its location in the heart of Boston’s Financial District, and it features a long-term lease to anchor tenant Brown Brothers Harriman that has six years remaining. Surging Downtown rents and a dearth of class A inventory are considered other reasons the 26-year-old asset has appreciated so dramatically.

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