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BOSTON-Another long-held property in the bustling Downtown Crossing retail district is changing hands, but this time the buyer is a local group possessing deep roots to the area. The owners of family run Manhattan Clothing have acquired 17-33 Winter St. and the connected 6 Hamilton Pl. for $14.5 million, aided by a $10-million loan from Boston Private Bank & Trust.

“It has nothing but upside,” says Browne Realty Advisors’ principal Mark Browne, who negotiated the building’s transfer on behalf of the buyers, 17-33 Winter St. LLC, and the sellers, Janelon Realty Trust. Having purchased the Manhattan Clothing building at 40-46 Winter St. five years ago for $2.2 million, the buyers now have “a dominant presence” on the strip, says Browne. Owned by Joseph, Mary and Morris Naggar, Manhattan Clothing has been in Boston since the 1980s. The anchor store is located in Cambridge’s Central Square.

Leased on the lower levels to Bally Total Fitness and Staples, 17-33 Winter St. is part of the so-called Ladder District, a series of narrow streets running perpendicular to the Boston Common and Washington Street, Downtown Crossing’s main thoroughfare. Winter Street is considered especially valuable for retail thanks to the presence of three subway lines and direct pedestrian connection to Summer Street leading to South Station and the emerging Seaport District. An estimated 100,000 people traverse the district daily.

Janelon’s ownership of 17-33 Winter St. dates to 1975 when the entity was under the stewardship of the late Sidney Covich, one of Boston’s more visible and active developers in the 1970s and 1980s. Covich’s renovation of 17 Winter St. was considered a catalyst for the street becoming a recognized retail destination, while the Newton resident also overhauled several other Downtown Crossing assets.

The purchases of 17 Winter St. and 6 Hamilton Pl. continue a string of Downtown Boston commercial property sales in 2007, including dozens of small- to mid-sized class B buildings that have fetched record pricing. Foreign investors have been especially active, including an Irish partnership that paid $30.2 million in September for 30 Winter St., a 12-story, 87,000-sf office/retail building across from the Boston Common. Calls to the Naggar family to discuss 17-33 Winter St. were not returned by press deadline. A veteran Boston retail broker who has been retained as leasing agent for the asset, Browne says no changes are presently anticipated and terms the leasing roster as “stable,” with the national retailers on the street and office tenants such as Jewish Vocational Services on the upper floors.

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