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NORWOOD, MA-Joining a cadre of similar transactions in Greater Boston this year, GE Real Estate has completed a $33-million sale-leaseback that gives the real estate investment firm control of the regional campus of Universal Technical Institute. The Arizona-based educational provider has committed to a 15-year lease and quartet of renewal options that could extend the occupancy at One Upland Rd. by an additional 20 years.

In a release acknowledging the action, UTI president and CEO Kimberly McWaters says the agreement provides “a professional and flexible leasing solution for UTI.” The business property division of GE Real Estate that handled the assignment is equally pleased by the terms, relays Bill Gregory of the firm’s net lease group. “We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with UTI on this deal and are looking to be the partner of choice for other companies that need to access the equity in their properties,” he says. UTI had owned the property since February 2005 when it paid just $12.4 million.

While the Norwood transaction was a bit unique, sale-leasebacks are being increasingly utilized by academic institutions, observers report, with Tufts New England Medical Center recently striking a deal involving a tenant-in-common investment firm that reaped $116 million. Negotiated by Grubb & Ellis of Boston, the Tufts sale-leaseback was first detailed last month by GlobeSt.com.

In the Tufts’ deal, the buyer was Triple Net Properties, which acquired the 155,000-sf Biewind Building and 98,000-sf Tupper Building, a pair of Downtown properties used by Tufts for administrative and research functions. Tufts, which has had a long presence in the city, agreed to commit for 10 years.

According to Grubb & Ellis broker Phil Giunta, the concept helps institutions deploy building equity to other purposes, especially at a time when such product is being sought by investors. The tool also lets sellers tap those resources without having to relocate, he says, adding that was key in the Tufts arrangement.

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