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BOSTON-Approaching 30 years in the business, NAI Hunneman Commercial Co. principal Jeffrey Becker has seen plenty of real estate formulas come and go, but the veteran broker considers a recent trend in office condominiums as an idea with lasting power. Becker is helping three property owners market condos in commercial buildings throughout the city, including a 30-unit asset at 185 Devonshire St. in the Financial District and a seven-unit building at the redeveloped Charlestown Navy Yard.

“It’s an opportunity to lock in your occupancy costs and enjoy the tax benefits that come from ownership,” Becker tells GlobeSt.com, in explaining why he believes locals are finally embracing a structure that has been largely missing from the commercial real estate landscape in Greater Boston. Becker offers a number of reasons why the format finally seems to be catching on, the most obvious being a record run-up of office rents during the past 18 months fueled by tight supply and new landlords who paid big prices for buildings and now need to pass on those costs.

“People are getting sticker shock in a big way,” relays Becker, who notes that buyers of the six units already trading at the Cooper Building in Charlestown all hailed from Boston. Hunneman was called in by owner Davis Marcus Partners last summer to determine what could be done with the three-story historic structure whose tenant had recently departed. “We felt the parts were more valuable than the whole, and were able to sell them on the (condo) concept,” says Becker, who was engaged at the time by Florida-based Bayview Financial to market 185 Devonshire St.’s units.

One Cooper Building unit was purchased soon after the marketing campaign began, and five more have traded since, including three last week that closed after an aggressive push to land prospective buyers. “We had a lot of activity from that,” says Becker, who is handling the Charlestown assignment with NAI Hunneman associate David Cooney. The second quarter surge filled more than 15,000 sf in the 36,000-sf building, including a 7,000-sf unit purchased by Trevi Icos Corp. Presently at 273 South St. in Boston, Trevi Icos was represented by Equitable Real Estate Solutions principal Mark Carangelo in the transaction.

The other two deals were each for units slightly over 4,000 sf. Buyer Automation Solutions was represented by Jones Lang LaSalle, while Cresa Partners negotiated on behalf of the Richard L. Iandoli Law Offices. The latter group is coming from 1 Appleton St. in Boston, whereas Automated Solutions is at 33 Broad St. in the Financial District. Becker and Cooney are now striving to sell the third-floor penthouse. “Architecturally, it is the most unique in the building,” says Becker, citing vaulted ceilings up to 18-feet high and 9,000 sf of space. “Because of its size, I expect the audience to be not only from Boston, but also from Cambridge and the suburbs,” says Becker, confident that a prospect will be taken by the opportunity. An asking price was not revealed, but the three Cooper Building units that just sold averaged about $160 per sf. Downtown office condos can be twice that amount, he says.

Another large office condo is just now coming available at Lewis Wharf in Boston’s North End. Hired to sell that 9,000-sf unit, Becker says it is the first time, since Lewis Wharf was converted to commercial condos in the 1980s, that the unit he is representing has been made available. The unit is a duplex, explains Becker, allowing for potential subdivision. The 185 Devonshire St. units are more modest, running between 1,500 and 3,000 sf. “It’s a rare opportunity for the little guy that doesn’t come along very often,” Becker says of that property, which still has 22 units available.

The dearth of office condos in Massachusetts is a mystery to Becker, who insists many companies would be receptive to the idea, especially those whose occupancy needs tend to be static. Occasionally an “out-of-towner” development firm will pursue the concept, and the low interest-rate environment has helped increased the number of industrial, office and retail units, but Becker concurs that the inventory remains thin compared to other regions. While it is unclear whether more developers will step forward, Becker says he believes the tenant community is sophisticated enough to consider that approach. “We have a highly educated leasing audience in this city, and I think they understand there are a lot of benefits in buying your future,” says Becker. As in the case of the Cooper Building, he adds that a condo can be a smart “exit strategy” for a property owner.

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