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NORTH ANDOVER, MA-Efforts to reposition the former Lucent Technologies campus here into a multi-tenanted commercial development have received a boost from a 32,000-sf office lease to Ophir Optronics. A manufacturer and supplier of infrared optics, the firm committed to five years at 1600 Osgood St.

“Our client has found a space with excellent amenities that suits their location and services desires,” says Ophir’s broker, NAI Hunneman Commercial Co. principal Stephen James who notes the building’s legacy as a commercial address dates to 1956. Totaling 1.5 million sf of manufacturing, office and warehouse space, 1600 Osgood St. has such features as an auditorium, cafeteria, executive dining room and multi-media conference rooms. The 169-acre complex is owned by Ozzy Properties, which handled negotiations for the Ophir lease in-house through President Orit Goldstein.

Ozzy Properties acquired 1600 Osgood St. in 2003 for the bargain-basement price of $13.9 million. Lucent, which at one time employed 12,000 people at the site, reduced its presence to a fraction of its previous footprint, allowing Ozzy to pursue other tenants. Company officials did not say how much space is presently occupied in the building.

According to James, Ophir was lured by a combination of the building’s attributes, a competitive rental rate and 1600 Osgood St.’s accessible location. The property is within a mile of Interstate 95 and has an onsite public transportation stop. Ophir is based in Burlington and has an office in Yokohama, Japan.

Rental rates for the Ophir lease were not provided, but a year-end 2007 review by Jones Lang LaSalle put the average asking rate for Interstate 495 North at $18.64 per sf, up $1.50 per sf from the start of the year but still below the suburban market average of $23.49 per sf. Despite a sluggish fourth quarter that resulted in negative net absorption, I-495 had the best year of any local office submarket in that regard, posting 436,000 sf of positive net absorption. It still has the second highest vacancy rate among the seven submarkets tracked by JLL. The 22.9% vacancy for an inventory of 11.3 million sf is just behind the 23.5% mark found in the I-495 South office submarket, one that has just 2.2 million sf.

Founded in 1994 as a residential real estate company, Ozzy Properties has since expanded into the commercial arena and presently manages approximately two million sf of office and retail space in addition to 100 residential units. The portfolio is concentrated north of Boston in such communities as Andover, Lawrence and Methuen.

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