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WATERTOWN, MA-Spurred by a solid location and the site’s future potential, the Cresset Group has secured a vacant industrial property here for $5.8 million, purchasing 58 Irving St. after owner GE Ionics Inc. deemed the 135,000-sf asset surplus. Cresset principal Edward Nardi tells GlobeSt.com that the opportunity came together quickly and mandated swift action by the Boston-based real estate investment firm to win the deal from a bevy of competitors.

“We very much like the brick and mortar,” Nardi tells GlobeSt.com, explaining the initial focus will be to lease up the empty warehouse space. Over time, however, there may be the proverbial “higher and better use” for 58 Irving St., Nardi acknowledges. The property is situated a few blocks from one of the region’s busiest business districts, Watertown Square. The Massachusetts Turnpike Extension is barely a mile away, and the square itself features the confluence of five major roadways including Routes 16 and 20 and Mount Auburn St., a direct connection to Harvard Square in Cambridge.

Watertown has emerged this decade as one of Boston’s leading Inner Suburbs, attracting both commercial real estate capital and a cadre of tenants needing back office or laboratory space as close as possible to Downtown Boston. Harvard University has a presence just east of 58 Irving St., owning the sprawling Arsenal on the Charles complex that has more than 700,000 sf of first class office space on a 37-acre campus. Nationally known developers including Alexandria Real Estate Equities are also buying into Watertown, aiming to extend Cambridge’s life sciences sector that is already shifting to abutting communities such as Lexington and Waltham.

Formed in 2000, the Cresset Group specializes in value-added redevelopment, acquiring more than a dozen assets in Boston and the suburbs and repositioning many through capital improvements and other strategies. Presently, for example, the company is overhauling 201 Burlington Rd. in Bedford, a two-building, 130,000-sf office property poised to take advantage of a surge of leasing in the Route 3 corridor. Despite mounting recessionary fears, Nardi says he is generally confident about Bedford and the region in general. “Fundamentally, the market is still pretty strong,” he says in reporting encouraging velocity at 201 Burlington Rd., which is being marketed by Colliers Meredith & Grew SVP Matt Daniels.

As for 58 Irving St., Nardi says Cresset has no set vision formulated of what the future might produce on the site. For now, Andrew Sacher of Parsons Commercial Group has been retained to lease the existing space after the sale of the property was orchestrated by CB Richard Ellis principal Robert Fitzgerald.

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