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BURLINGTON, MA-New England commercial real estate sales could wind up having one of their worst final quarters this decade, but a few significant transactions continue to make their way through the pipeline, as evidenced by the pending purchase of a 105,000-sf office building here along Route 128. ELV Associates has reportedly agreed to acquire 5 Burlington Woods from the New Boston Fund, which has owned the three-story building since 2001.

Calls to ELV and brokers handling the assignment at Jones Lang LaSalle were not returned by press deadline, but a source familiar with the negotiations confirms to GlobeSt.com that the Boston-based investment and development company has committed to the asset. Efforts to obtain an exact price were unsuccessful, but one estimate puts the figure above $200 per sf and possibly around $225 per sf, or between $21 million and $24 million.

NBF placed 5 Burlington Woods on the block this summer just as the credit crisis was beginning to disrupt what had been one of the best runs for commercial property sales in history. By the time the marketing campaign got into full swing, deals were being held up by the difficulties, including a number of portfolios that have since been pulled off until conditions settle. JLL managing director Michael Smith told GlobeSt.com this week that he anticipates the malaise could linger into the second quarter of 2008.

According to one industry professional, the interest shown for 5 Burlington Woods reflects an ability of investors to see beyond the current turmoil at a suburban office sector that has rebounded strongly in 2007 after an extended period of weakness. The Northwest submarket featuring Bedford, Billerica and Burlington has been especially vibrant, with class A rents in Burlington reaching an average of $32 per sf in the third quarter, up 33 percent over year-end 2006, according to JLL.

The Northwest had an impressive 1.1 million sf of net absorption through Q3, says JLL, or 14.3% of the submarket’s total inventory. While perhaps a bit quieter of late, partly due to the holiday season, industry observers say leasing demand remains encouraging. “I would say it’s brisk, but not frenzied,” Meredith & Grew SVP Matt Daniels relays in assessing the present velocity, with his firm tracking several requirements that could further tighten vacancies in early 2008.

Sources say they believe the parties hope to close the sale of 5 Burlington Woods by year’s end. If the deal is consummated, it will be the latest Burlington building to change hands, many thanks to JLL’s investment sales team of Smith, Cappy Daume, Scott Jamieson and Gail McDonough. The group began by trading 4 Van de Graaf Dr. to Normandy Real Estate Partners this spring for a record price in excess of $333 per sf, and also handled the $212 million purchase of the 800,000-sf Sun Microsystems campus by Nordblom and the $66.5 million sale of the Burlington Woods Office Park next door to 5 Burlington Woods.

The purchase of the three-building, 288,000-sf Burlington Woods Office Park by Griffith Properties just attracted GE Real Estate to provide $55.5 million in financing. Arranged by Frank Petz of Eastdil Secured, that commitment was reported by GlobeSt.com in its November 19th edition. GE’s interest and that of veteran developer Griffith demonstrates further confidence in the Northwest office market, says one observer who also calls the pending sale of 5 Burlington Woods “no surprise” in light of the improving conditions.

Based at Long Wharf in Boston, ELV Associates is familiar with the suburban north region, having owned assets in such communities as Andover and Tewksbury. Backed by overseas capital, the company has been active in New England since the early 1990s.

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