NAI Hunneman’s Research Group is pleased to introduce our new submarket reports, which provide in-depth analyses of major office and industrial submarkets in Greater Boston. Topics covered in these publications include notable lease transactions, vacancies, rent stats and other market trends.
Here are just a few highlights:
- Unprecedented growth has legitimized the Inner Suburbs office market. The completion of Partners Healthcare’s 850,000-square-foot headquarters in Somerville accounted for the spike in quarterly net absorption.
- The South industrial market continues to impress, with 2.6 million square feet of industrial space absorbed over the last five quarters. Moderna Therapeutics, Amazon.com and Trillium Brewing represent large tenants expanding in the South markets.
- The Seaport’s building boom is changing this submarket’s landscape. In the past 10 years, total office inventory has increased by 44%. As a result, Class A assets now account for nearly half of the Seaport office market.
You can access our submarket reports on our website
For more information on our reports or market updates please contact Director of Research Liz Berthelette at firstname.lastname@example.org
Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow; a simple concept that means a great deal to those involved with the independent nonprofit organization Epilepsy Foundation New England (EFNE). Help for Today, Hope for Tomorrow is EFNE’s Vision Statement which is taken to heart by the people the organization benefits and those who volunteer their time, including NAI Hunneman North Team broker Jim Boudrot.
EFNE aims to overcome challenges faced by those with epilepsy and their families by assisting with decision regarding care, daily activities, employment, community participation, and other tasks and responsibilities.
Jim maintains a particular interest in pediatric epilepsy and has been involved with EFNE for many years. In July of 2016 he was named Chairman of the Board, spearheading the dozens of events EFNE hosts throughout the year.
Most recently, Jim and his family led the charge and recruited other NAI Hunneman employees to participate in the Thompson Island 4K Trail Run. Jim explains, “NAI Hunneman has been tremendously supportive of EFNE in every way. Team Hunneman has collectively: donated thousands of dollars; helped secure powerful new relationships & sponsors; and physically participated in many of the Foundation’s charitable events.”
Boudrot and team NAI Hunneman raised over $5,000 for this year’s race. This is equivalent to the tuition for 5 kids with epilepsy to go to camp for an entire week next summer, 50 people to get assistance from the EFNE helpline, and 1:1 coaching for people with epilepsy to meet their career goals.
The largest event scheduled is the Candlelight Dinner and Auction held at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge. According to Boudrot this event always sells out and this year they’re expecting over 350 people.
Another highlight of the year is the upcoming Joseph’s Hope benefit concert in Natick on October 22nd. Sponsored by NAI Hunneman, Sage Therapeutics, Alexandria Real Estate Equities; this event features a raffle, appetizers, and a costume contest for children. The live music will be provided by Sage Against the Machine, Tsunami of Sound & Aideen O’Donnell.
For more information on Joseph’s Hope visit http://www.epilepsynewengland.org/josephs-hope
Nationally the industrial market continues to impress as outsized demand, coupled with limited supply, is driving extremely positive fundamentals. Boston is no exception with industrial vacancies reaching a 15-year low in the third quarter and asking rents continuing to increase at a double-digit pace.
Developers continue to break ground, but new supply remains moderate. Demand for newer, higher-quality warehouse space has incited construction in the Boston metro. Build-to-suit activity, including projects for Martignetti Companies, New England Ice Cream and Pfizer, dominates. However, developers are willing to begin construction on a speculative basis.
Most recently, ground is being cleared at 45 Panas Road, Foxboro for a 50,000 square foot office/warehouse building with a host of features including; 32’ clear heights, ten loading docks, and ESFR sprinklers. NAI Hunneman south market experts Cathy Minnerly and Ovar Osvold are the exclusive agents for the property which sits in a market where available space remains at a premium. Just up the road Minnerly and Osvold have taken one of the area’s most attractive industrial parks to 96% occupancy, making 45 Panas a much welcome addition to inventory in the market.
Below are three major trends we’re seeing in our local market:
- Big Box retailers have arrived! Traditionally, large-scale distribution operations have passed over the New England region due to cost and geographic location. However, changes in consumer spending patterns are driving retailers and internet-retailers to locate closer to consumers and stores as well as reduced shipping times.
- E-Commerce is changing the game. Not only has internet retailing shifted where distribution centers are located, but it has also changed the type of warehouses being built. According to a recent article in the SIOR report, e-commerce tenants require “800-feet deep with no pass-through,” larger footprints, more workers and parking spaces due to increased automation. Amazon’s new one million square foot distribution center in Fall River is a prime example. Minnerly & Osvold sold the land for the construction of the new facility which offers a premier location off a new $34 million highway interchange on Rt 24 and opened in September.
- Modern industrial space is still in vogue. Buildings with 30’+ clear heights, ESFR sprinklers and wider column spacing are top choice among industrial users. Metrowide there are only a handful of buildings that meet this criteria that have 50,000 SF or more of available space. Given the demand for this space landlords are able to garner a rent premium with lease rates in the $6-7/SF range.
Heading into the fourth quarter we expect industrial fundamentals to remain positive. That being said, growth will likely be more measured compared to recent history as we near cyclical peaks.
NAI Hunneman’s Downtown Leasing & Advisory Service Team Brokers 12,008 SF Sublease at 500 Boylston Street
Evans & James represent Cambridge Semantics in relocation within Boston’s Back Bay
NAI Hunneman recently completed a 12,008 SF sublease transaction with Cambridge Semantics. The enterprise analytics and smart data management software company is relocating its operations from 141 Tremont Street to 500 Boylston in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay.
NAI Hunneman Executive Vice Presidents Peter Evans and Steve James represented Cambridge Semantics in the transaction, while Anne Columbia of The Columbia Group represented the sub-landlord.
“This move was a great option as it allows Cambridge Semantics to continue with their growth and it provides them true plug and play space,” said Evans.
“We’ve nearly doubled our employee headcount in the last year and it was important for us to find a space that accommodates our continued expansion plans. Peter Evans and the NAI Hunneman team found the perfect space for us. The office layout and the included furniture gives our company more efficient space while limiting any significant disruption in our day-to-day operations,” said Cambridge Semantics VP of Finance & Operations, John O’Sullivan.
About Cambridge Semantics
Cambridge Semantics (CSI), the Smart Data Company, is an enterprise smart data discovery and exploratory analytics company. It enables customers and partners to rapidly build and deploy Smart Data Lake solutions based on its award-winning Anzo Smart Data Platform™ (Anzo SDP).
IT departments and business users gain better understanding and accelerated data value through the semantic linking, analysis and management of diverse data whether internal or external, structured or unstructured. The Anzo Smart Data Lake solutions are delivered with increased speed, at big data scale and at a fraction of the implementation costs of using traditional approaches.
The company is based in Boston, Massachusetts.
NAI Hunneman’s Downtown Team
NAI Hunneman’s Downtown Leasing & Advisory Service Team consists of Peter Evans, Jeff Becker, Brooke Blue, Colin Gordon, & Matthew Davis.
Headquartered in Boston, NAI Hunneman is a leading provider of commercial real estate services to corporations, institutions and the private market. NAI Hunneman is a member NAI Global, the premier network of independent commercial real estate firms and one of the largest commercial real estate service providers worldwide. NAI Global manages a network of 6,700 professionals and 375 offices throughout the world. NAI professionals work together with its global management team to help clients strategically optimize their real estate assets. To learn more about NAI Hunneman and the NAI Global Network please visit www.naihunneman.com.
Greater Boston’s commercial real estate markets posted positive results in the third quarter. In the office market, the suburbs led the way accounting for the majority of the market’s more-than one million square feet of positive absorption. The lab market, particularly in Kendall Square, remains tight and industrial vacancies have reached another new low. Greater Boston’s near-term outlook remains decidedly positive as continued growth in the local economy bodes well for commercial real estate demand.
Here are some highlights from our Q3 2016 market reports:
- Office market: The Greater Boston office market posted another positive quarter with more than 1.4 million square feet in positive absorption. Build-to-suit construction, particularly the completion of Partners Healthcare’s 850,000-square-foot office in Somerville, was the driving force behind the majority of this demand. Metrowide vacancies declined by 30 basis points compared to the second quarter and remain 60 basis points below year-ago levels, with a majority of submarkets seeing fundamental improvements.
- Industrial market: Vacancies in the Greater Boston industrial market have reached another low, ending the third quarter at just 8.3%. Year-to-date, the market has absorbed 3.5 million square feet of industrial space. Large users remain focused on core markets north and south of Boston while redevelopment projects continue to remove infill industrial space from the inventory. Given such positive fundamentals, industrial landlords have been consistently raising rents in the Greater Boston area. As of the third quarter, lease rates expanded by 6.4% on a year-over-year basis, averaging $8.10 per-square-foot. Although leasing momentum has slowed from last year’s rapid pace, demand for modern, high-quality industrial space remains solid.
- Life sciences market: While the third quarter produced some mixed results, the Greater Boston lab market is as hot as ever. A reshuffling of tenants in the Cambridge markets kept positive absorption below recent historical trends; Infinity Pharmaceuticals’ departure of 51,000 square feet at 780 Memorial and Metabolix’s relocation to Woburn accounted for the lion’s share of negative absorption this quarter. The continued conversion of 50 Hampshire Street and the addition of 80 Guest Street in Brighton also added new lab space to the inventory. With that said, metrowide vacancies are sub-4% and East Cambridge vacancies are still below 1% as the race for space remains heated. Look for market conditions to improve next quarter as there are several deals that are nearing the finish line.
Read our full Q3 office/industrial market report here
Read our full Q3 biotech market report here
By Carl Christie
In a competitive real estate market, multifamily portfolios are hotter than ever, but how do new owners add value to their recent investments? Quality multifamily properties are defined by location, size, construction type and amenities; and developments that meet all these standards in these categories do not stay on the market for long. With these portfolios, there is great competition and historic low cap rates, so active buyers need to add value when and where they can.
When we talk to investors about how to add value to their multifamily property, generally they employ one or all of the following:
Renovating and updating
In older buildings, upgrading areas of daily use like kitchens or bathrooms can be an investment with significant added value to the property. Other possible updates include hallway and landscape improvements, as well as having chargeable amenities like parking and storage. Renovating or updating is usually the best way to raise rents in the units, therefore increasing the overall value.
Another advantage of some older properties is extra space or land that was unused in the original construction. Owners who take the opportunity to expand can create more units in existing buildings, or might also seek to build an additional unit adjacent to the existing one on the land they purchase. In some cases, a more spacious unit can be expanded to include one or more additional bedrooms. For instance, an older unit may have been constructed with both a living room and dining room, and owners could choose to convert one of those rooms into a bedroom for a value-add.
Simply raising rents
The answer might not be to make changes right away. Owners may choose to raise rents due to the market changing over time. With long-term ownership, many do not keep up with current rents, so a gradual rent increase over a two-year period is generally best. For example, an investor purchased a property from us North of Boston, mid 2015. He offered all tenants a new lease (as most tenants were tenancy at will) at a modest increase of 10% as the current rents were close to 20% below market, every tenant stayed. He has recently renewed all the same tenants at an additional 10% increase and all tenants again stayed on.
Reposition or redevelop a building into multifamily units
A somewhat non-traditional route to finding value in multifamily units is to reposition or redevelop a property that wasn’t originally used for residential purposes. Today, industrial space, offices and even retail buildings are all being redeveloped into multifamily if the building permits. This trend speaks to the current need for housing, but it also gives owners an opportunity to build or design something new. This is a very interesting opportunity for owners because they can design and even brand the new development to attract a specific buyer or tenant. With these insights and control, owners can attract tenants looking for a building with character or a more unique feel. It is important to note, however, that this option is not a fit for every building, and owners need to make sure the structure allows for this kind of redevelopment.
In the multifamily market, demand is so high that often owners are interested in buying properties that don’t necessarily check all of these boxes right away. Developments like these present a great opportunity for buyers to add value while also keeping up with current trends that buyers like to see.
For more information on other major markets, read NAI Hunneman’s Q3 Market Recap here.
Carl Christie is an executive vice president with NAI Hunneman’s Capital Markets Group specializing in the disposition of multifamily assets throughout New England.
By Liz Berthelette – Director of Research
Boston has seen unprecedented growth in the innovation economy this cycle, which is impacting commercial real estate patterns throughout the downtown markets.
Once the center of finance and professional services, Boston’s Financial District has become a hotspot for young, creative companies. Close to 100 TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information-based) companies; including DataRobot, PayPal and Localytics, now boast a Financial District address.
The Seaport (aka the Innovation District), on the other hand, is filling up with more traditional office users like law firms and consulting companies. Goodwin Proctor, PwC and Boston Consulting Group are just a few of the big-name firms that are making the move across the Fort Point Channel. In fact, according to a BBJ article, more than 2 million square feet in professional services, law firms and consultancies have relocated from traditional downtown submarkets to Boston’s hottest neighborhood.
Not only is tenant demand shifting between locations, but also within product types. The influx of these TAMI tenants into the Financial District has led to increasing demand for lower floor office space. With higher ceilings and larger floor plates, these spaces are more flexible and allow firms to customize their workspaces. More affordable rents are an added benefit, especially among tenants being priced out of the Seaport and Cambridge. As a result, office space below the 10th floor has been outperforming in the Financial District with vacancies ending the second quarter at just 8.2%. Conversely, vacancies above the 20th floors were 13.7% at the end of the quarter.
The Financial District has long been the center of activity for the Boston economy, and the movement of tech firms into the neighborhood signals the emergence of the tech industry as a pillar of Boston’s economic future.
A version of this blog post originally appeared in the August 19th issue of NEREJ.
By Liz Berthelette – Director of Research
With the first half of 2016 in the books – and a month into Q3 – let’s take stock of Greater Boston’s commercial real estate markets. Below are some of the top market highlights from the first two quarters of the year:
- The metro added more than 39,000 jobs during the first six months of the year, which is more than half of the jobs added in all of 2015. The metro area’s unemployment rate also reached a 10-year low during the second quarter.
- While venture capital funding (both in number of deals and dollar volume) abated in the second quarter, year-to-date Boston-based companies have raised $2.5 billion in funding.
- The local lab market is tighter-than-ever with metro-wide vacancies at just 2%. However, the lack of available space is hampering deal volume.
- Conditions in the office market held steady through the beginning of the year, but fundamentals are beginning to slow down as sublease availabilities are on the rise.
- The industrial market continues to outperform, with year-to-date net absorption surpassing the office and lab markets combined.
Mixed signals in the marketplace have led to an uncertain outlook for the remainder of 2016. Below are some market trends we expect to see in the next four months.
- Short-term leases will likely gain more traction. Young tech companies and startups seeking flexibility as well as firms exercising more caution in the face of economic uncertainty will drive these types of deals.
- M&A activity is solid. Nationally deal flow has been more measured following the blockbuster years of 2014 and 2015. However, several MA-based companies are reportedly ripe for acquisition.
- Rent growth will remain positive; however, with rates nearing cyclical peaks we expect more modest gains going forward.
- The recent Brexit vote could result in an uptick in foreign buyers looking for U.S. assets, and Boston has long been a target for foreign capital.
- Demand will remain strong for modern, high-quality space in both the office and industrial markets.
- Continued strength in the local lab market will drive more landlords to consider building out lab space in office and industrial buildings.
Up next in our Intern Spotlight is Kevin White, intern with our Research Department (no relation to the former Mayor of Boston). See what a typical day of running numbers and market write-ups is all about for this Worcester native and University of Puget Sound junior.
NAIH: Describe a typical day in the research department?
KW: I spend my day helping Liz Berthelette (Research Director) update our Microsoft CRM database to reflect the current state of the metro Boston real estate market. I also provide help to brokers with market write-ups, building information, and various in-depth maps.
NAIH: What’s your background (school, hometown, hobbies)?
KW: I was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, and attended Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury. I attend the University of Puget Sound, where I’ll be a junior in the fall and I’m double majoring in economics and a specialized discipline called International Political Economy (IPE), a major carried by a few, select schools. My hobbies focus around sports, playing intramurals basketball and softball at school and closely following the Red Sox and Bruins. I am also a sports correspondent for the school newspaper.
NAIH: Why did you pursue an internship at NAI Hunneman? What do you hope to take from the experience?
KW: I believe it’s the type of job that an economics major could expect once graduating. I wanted to experience how to exactly apply my knowledge outside of the classroom. I hope to glean the workings of the commercial real estate industry, as well as learn how to be a productive member of a workplace.
NAIH: How have you been able to apply your skill set to your job and what kind of an impact have you made here so far?
KW: I’ve always been skilled at analyzing documents, so I have easily been able to comprehend and summarize various documents related to the Real Estate market, saving the research department time and man-power on going through the articles themselves. I am also an efficient, and have been able to quickly work through updating various aspects of the CRM database, including rents, building owners and building addresses.
NAIH: What skills have you been able to acquire?
KW: I have begun to learn the different software used by NAI Hunneman’s Research Department and worked on my writing skills, which will help hone my skills as I begin to look for a job after college.
NAIH: Why are you interested in Real Estate?
KW: From what I have seen of commercial real estate, I like how easy it is to develop relationships. Everyone knows one another, and these types of connections are important in any industry. The ease with which such connections can be forged makes working in Real Estate ideal. While friends back home may be delivering pizza, I’m helping deliver the 25th floor of a class A office building, something worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I really enjoy being involved in something so significant.
NAIH: How’s the relationship with the other interns?
KW: Pretty good, Billy and I met during the company softball games, which was a nice icebreaker. Nick has been a good cubicle neighbor, although I do feel bad, because I sometimes listen to stand-up specials like John Mulaney & Mitch Hedberg and I can’t help but laugh sometimes, so he either thinks I’m crazy and is weirded out or he thinks that research is a hilarious time and he’s jealous he isn’t doing it too.
NAIH: What’s the favorite part of your job so far?
KW: The free lunches are pretty cool. But throughout the past few weeks, I have enjoyed different meetings, especially with groups like Compstak. Also, I enjoy using the mapping software to develop different maps for the brokers. Gaining proficiency in this software is one of my goals for the summer. I really like writing and analyzing articles for the blog-it’s helping me improve my reading and writing skills.
NAIH: What do you see for your future? Has it changed since starting the internship?
KW: I have considered many different paths for when I graduate, oftentimes split between working in the government sector or as a businessman. I always thought that I would join either financial or consulting services, but after working with NAI Hunneman, an opportunity to sign on with a close-knit commercial real estate company like this has been added to the list.
NAIH: What’s your favorite part of Boston? Favorite building?
KW: Working in the Seaport has given me an affinity for the neighborhood, but I truly enjoy walking along Newbury Street in the Back Bay the most. As for my favorite building, it has to be Fenway Park, but if that doesn’t count, Old City Hall is a close second.
NAI Hunneman is excited to welcome recent Bentley University graduate Sean Hannigan to his new full-time position as an associate on the industrial team. Having worked as an intern with both our downtown and industrial teams over the past two years, Sean has had the opportunity to learn from our team members across different industries. One of the reasons Sean knew he wanted to join NAI Hunneman full-time was his positive experience during the internship program, in which he was a true member of the team working toward a larger end goal to enhance the level of service as a firm. Here’s what Sean had to say about his new role:
NAIH: What did you learn as an intern at NAI Hunneman that has helped you transition into your new role?
SH: The internship was extremely hands-on, which made my transition to my current role a lot easier. While I was an intern, I was able to shadow Peter Evans and get a feel for different office spaces and properties. I was also able to work with a brand new CoStar database as well as the new NAI Hunneman database which is something I work with frequently in my current position. The team at NAI Hunneman does a fantastic job of allowing the interns to actually experience what the commercial real estate industry is like.
NAIH: Tell us more about your experience at Kraft Sports Group – how did that experience prepare you for this role?
SH: During my sophomore year at Bentley, I worked for Kraft Sports Group as a game day and events intern. Working games for the Patriots and the Revolution was always fast-paced, so it taught me a lot about how to think on my feet and make quick yet informed decisions. This role definitely helped prepare me for the fast pace of the commercial real estate industry.
NAIH: What made NAI Hunneman the right choice for you as you begin your career in CRE?
SH: I knew NAI Hunneman was the right choice for me because during my internship, I was always treated like a valued member of my teams. The interns sit in on all team meetings, and are always encouraged to share their opinions as well. I remember, in only my fourth or fifth week at the firm, Peter Evans had me speak on behalf of the downtown team in a big development meeting. That moment really made me feel like I was an essential team member, and is a large part of the reason why I wanted to continue my career at NAI Hunneman. The commercial real estate industry is often stereotyped as competitive and independent, but here you really get the feeling that we are all in this together.
Additionally, when I met with David Slye, he impressed upon me that he didn’t care who I knew or what college I had attended, he was looking for people to that were the right fit to join the team. When I joined the team, I knew it was because he thought I was a good fit, which I took as a true compliment and really helped begin my growth at NAI Hunneman.
NAIH: What is it like being a millennial in CRE?
SH: As a millennial in commercial real estate I think I feel more comfortable using new technology – like our new database system at NAI Hunneman, which I work with often. But specifically at NAI Hunneman it is encouraging to see people close to my age like Ovar Osvold in leadership roles because it shows the younger people like myself that hard work pays off.
NAIH: You have a leadership background from your time at Bentley University. How has that helped in your career thus far?
SH: My past leadership roles as well as my education at Bentley were instrumental in my career thus far. Bentley requires all of its students to take foundational business courses, so even though it wasn’t my focus I took some marketing and accounting classes that have already helped in my new role. The leadership programs that I took part in were incredibly important with networking and practicing for job interviews. Bentley’s career services program actually help set up the interview that eventually led to my internship at NAI Hunneman, so I always felt like the school really had my back.
NAIH: Who will you be working with on the Industrial team?
SH: In my role on the industrial team, I will be working with Cathy Minnerly, Ovar Osvold and Glenne Bachman. I will be doing a lot of shadowing of Ovar, as well as assisting with showings and deals and keeping our database up to date. For example, earlier today I canvassed a few properties with the team, which is great exposure to both the landlord side and the tenant side. I look forward to learning more about the industry, and am really excited to continue on my journey with the NAI Hunneman team.
By Liz Berthelette – Director of Research
The June employment numbers were released Friday July 7th and the data significantly exceeded expectations. After May’s poor numbers, concerns over a possible economic decline grew as May saw only 11,000 jobs added to the workforce. In June, employers added 287,000 jobs, well above the projected 175,000. This represents the strongest month of job growth since October 2015. These June numbers helped lay to rest the concerns of economic downturn inspired by the poor May numbers.
The unemployment rate did rise to 4.9% in June, from 4.7% in May. However, experts look at the increase in unemployment as an indicator of people re-entering the workforce, which is a benefit for the economy in the long-run. The employment market may be on the cusp of vigorous competition, as wages rose 2.6% over the course of the cycle, the largest growth since 2009.
The June data has been tied to the largest economic stories this month along with Brexit and the Federal Reserve’s ongoing discussion of raising interest rates. The return to steady job growth in June is welcome amidst the unrest over Brexit. While the aftermath of the decision did cause losses in the stock markets, it hasn’t led to a deeper economic recession within the U.S.
As for the Fed’s position on interest rates, these recent numbers lead experts to believe that rates won’t be raised this month. There is, however, a possibility of a rise later in the year, potentially as early as September. Traders of US short-term interest rate futures are projecting a 24% chance of a rate-hike by the end of the year, double what was projected prior to the release of the report, and a 35% chance by next June. The Fed will likely remain in wait-and-see mode to ensure that the United Kingdom’s decision to leave does not have any further impact on the economy.
The specific impact on Boston is yet to be seen, but may not be significant. The city is below the national unemployment average as it is, and is approaching full employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the industries showing strong growth include healthcare and financial services, signaling a potential of job-growth within Boston. The healthcare industry added 59,000 jobs in the month of June, while the financial and information industries added another 50,000 jobs nationwide. Boston may not have seen much of a change in employment data, good news for the nation can only mean good news for the city.
Greater Boston’s commercial real estate markets posted varied results in the second quarter. While the lab market is tighter-than-ever and the industrial market continues to impress, absorption was flat in the office market and investment sales volumes are down across the board. Global economic conditions, BREXIT and the upcoming presidential election are some of the concerns weighing on business sentiment. With that said, Greater Boston is still on solid footing and the recent rebound in domestic job growth (287,000 jobs were added in June) could provide a boost to activity as we move into the summer doldrums.
Here are some highlights from our Q2 2016 market reports:
- Conditions in the Greater Boston office market were relatively flat in the second quarter – recording roughly 27,000 square feet of positive absorption. Rising sublease inventory, consolidations and corporate relocations were largely responsible for the lack of movement. While office vacancies are 70 basis points lower than year-ago levels, they have inched up by 20 basis points since the first quarter. Landlords have been able to push through additional rent gains as fundamentals are still positive. However, the pace of growth is slowing and some landlords are beginning to ease on asking rents. While it is still too early to call for widespread weakness in the office market, we may see a turning point in the cycle this year.
- Vacancies in the Greater Boston industrial market have fallen to a 15-year low; ending the second quarter at just 8.7%. Year-to-date the market has absorbed 2.3 million square feet of industrial space. Given such positive fundamentals, industrial landlords have been consistently raising rents in Greater Boston. As of the second quarter, lease rates expanded by 11.3% on a year-over-year basis, averaging $8.26/SF. Although leasing momentum has slowed from last year’s rapid pace, demand for modern, high-quality industrial space is solid.
- The Greater Boston lab market posted another positive quarter with net absorption surpassing 465,000 square feet and vacancies reaching record lows at just 2%. Cambridge is still the epicenter of activity as demand for space continues to outstrip supply by a wide margin and vacancies declined to just 0.9%. This scarcity of space is driving tenants to execute forward lease commitments, consider build-to-suit construction and seek out quality space outside of Cambridge in the Longwood Medical Area and along the Route 128 belt. Fundamentals are expected to remain positive in the coming quarters, but the second-half of 2016 will be pivotal as macro headwinds may be on the horizon.
We’ve hired a group of bright, hardworking students to serve as summer interns. Over the next few weeks you will get to know them in our Intern Spotlight. Up first is Bill Rand, intern with our Capital Markets Team.
NAIH: Describe a typical day?
BR: My day usually begins by getting settled in and saying hello to everyone. Surprisingly people often respond to my “Good Morning”, with “Good, you?”… I then start my work for the day, due to confidentiality agreements I can’t disclose too much about what I actually work on, but what I can tell you is that it’s like really really important and cool.
NAIH: What’s your background (school, hometown, hobbies)?
BR: I am from Andover, MA and attend UMass: Amherst. My hobbies include playing club lacrosse, intramural sports, and hanging out with friends.
NAIH: Why did you pursue an internship at NAI Hunneman? What do you hope to take from the experience?
BR: I pursued an internship here because I have a strong interest in finance and real estate. Since I’m already an expert in capital markets, I hope that I can take away a better understanding of the brokerage, property management and marketing aspects of real estate.
NAIH: How have you been able to apply your skill set to your job and what kind of an impact have you made here so far?
BR: I feel that my skill set revolves around getting to know people and creating a network. I don’t think I’ve made too much of an impact though, because when I wished one of the partners a happy birthday and he asked me what my name was.
NAIH: What skills have you been able to acquire?
BR: Though I already knew how to use excel before starting here, I would say that it is the skill that I have been able to enhance the most.
NAIH: Why are you interested in Real Estate?
BR: Isn’t it obvious? For the girls.
NAIH: How’s the relationship with the other interns?
BR: I think we all get along very well. We’ve been here about a month so it’s not like I have their phone numbers or anything, but they’re good guys.
NAIH: What’s the favorite part of your job so far?
BR: Lunch-time, because it’s the best time of the day to meet and get to know people around the office.
NAIH: What do you see for your future? Has it changed since starting the internship?
BR: When I first began interning here I was pretty set on going into investments and working with the stock market, but now after starting the internship I am more interested in the principal side of real estate and building a portfolio.
NAIH: What’s your favorite part of Boston? Favorite building?
BR: I don’t have a particularly favorite part, but I feel like the best answer is to say here at NAI Hunneman. My favorite building is the PWC building in the Seaport, I park there and they are opening up a Chipotle on the ground level in the Fall.
David Ross, Gina Barroso, Henry Lieber & Patrick Grady of our Capital Markets Team recently completed the sale of 333 Turnpike Road in Southborough, MA
As we explored in our Q1 2016 market report, Downtown Boston’s Class B office market continues to attract investors. Since 2014 we’ve seen nearly $3 billion in transactions with sales volume surpassing $700 million during the first half of 2016 alone.
With this rising demand for Class B office properties in Boston, sales prices have skyrocketed. On an annual basis the median price-per-square-foot topped $450 in 2015 and has averaged more than $400/SF in the first half of 2016. Cap rates have also compressed by nearly 300 basis points from 2011 to 2015.
We can attribute these market conditions to three core factors:
- Limited Class A properties for sale: There is a limited number of Class A properties for sale in the Downtown market. Many of the city’s trophy office towers have already traded in this current cycle and a majority of these new owners tend to hold assets for 10 or more years.
- Increased appetite for risk: As the expansion cycle continues in Boston investors are willing to move further out along the risk spectrum, bolstering demand for non-core buildings.
- Tight fundamentals: Increased leasing activity, below average vacancies and rising asking rents have made Class B assets more desirable to potential buyers.
The following examples illustrate just how frenzied pricing is in this segment of the marketplace.
While it may be a great time to be a building owner, office tenants are facing severe ‘sticker shock.’ The aggressive underwriting accompanying these hefty price tags continues to put upward pressure on Class B office rents. “Demand for Class B space in Boston continues to rise and so are prices. 33-41 West St., a 38,000-square-foot Class B building in Downtown Crossing just sold for $16 million – which more than doubled its previous sales price,” said Bob Tito, EVP, Capital Markets Group. “We don’t see this increased appetite for Class B properties slowing down especially with limited Class A space available.” As a result, smaller, price-sensitive firms may have to look outside of the core downtown area for value options.
Venture capital funding is holding steady in the Boston market amid broader concerns of a bursting tech bubble. As reported in the Felder Report last week; overvalued startups, reduced funding, a non-existent IPO market and increasing layoffs are becoming more commonplace — particularly in startup hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle, Denver and Austin. Though trends in venture funding should be monitored closely in the coming quarters, it’s not time to hit the panic button in Boston yet.
After 2015’s banner year, over $1 billion in venture funding flowed into the Boston market during the first quarter of 2016. While this does represent a 20% decline from last year’s blockbuster first quarter, it is well above the fourth-quarter low of $724 million. The thriving life science industry continues to account for a large share of funding in Greater Boston with more than 60% of total volume in the first quarter. Comparatively, funding for life science companies in Silicon Valley was less than 25% of the total. The outlook for growth in life sciences and healthcare is bullish, which could minimize risk and bolster the market’s already healthy demand for lab space in Boston.
The metro area also saw an increase in Series A funding compared to year-ago levels. This bodes well for demand growth from local startups as their commercial real estate needs tend to expand following early funding events.
As the U.S. enters into the later stages of this expansion cycle frothiness in tech economies is a growing concern. Boston is not devoid of risk, but conditions in the local startup market are favorable as venture capital investors continue to favor the biotech sector.
To see more cutting-edge analysis from the NAI Hunneman Research Department, check out the 2016 Q1 Market Reports.
As the office market remains steady, a trend toward combined spaces is emerging. Companies that recently received funding or are trying to bring their research and development (R&D) teams in-house are now looking for spaces that can accommodate both office and lab/R&D components. What does flex space need to attract these tenants? We caught up with NAI Hunneman Assistant Vice President Jason Rexinis to find out more about flex space and what this trend means for the market:
Q: What exactly is flex space?
Jason Rexinis: Flex space is an interesting term. It is the combination of office, R&D, engineering or some capacity of lab space. When people think of traditional flex space they mostly think of large industrial parks that are just shipping and receiving terminals for companies like Amazon or Coca-Cola. But these spaces are not always for shipping companies – more recently buildings are developing and incorporating R&D/light lab spaces, which can help attract a wider range of tenants.
Q: What types of tenants are seeking flex space?
JR: Tenants that are interested in flex spaces right now are focused on R&D, engineering, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices. These companies are increasingly looking for both office and lab components, and the market for these spaces is pretty tight. Since January, we have already seen a tremendous amount of activity for the flex/R&D spaces in some of the buildings we represent in the 128 west market. Recently, biopharmaceutical company Cugene Inc. signed a 7,350-square-foot lease for their R&D operations at 411 Waverley Oaks Road in Waltham, a current target location. Medical device companies are also in the market for flex space, and these companies like to cluster together. Often when one signs a lease other firms will follow. Many potential tenants are companies that were established in traditional office buildings but in order to grow they are now looking for combined office and engineering space. Companies that have gotten funding for biotech lab requirements are also now looking at flex space solutions.
Q: Why the shift from traditional to new R&D spaces?
JR: I believe we are seeing this shift because of the current demand for experimentation areas. Growing biotech and R&D companies now want to perform internal experiments instead of outsourcing parts of their business. This is a win-win for many potential tenants because they don’t need to pay for lab space in another location and they can monitor everything going on under one roof.
Additionally, flex space offers more opportunities than traditional office space can. Not only is it cheaper than most traditional offices, but tenants can be more versatile within the four walls of the space as long as the building allows it. Another benefit is that these companies don’t need to worry about being too loud for their neighbors like they would in an office park.
Q: What amenities should new R&D spaces have?
JR: Because of this high demand for R&D and flex spaces, traditional office buildings do not have direct access to loading. There is usual a shared common area for shipping and receiving. . Access to loading is still a large concern for most tenants, so space on the ground floor is ideal. Many tenants need a small room for lab experiments, and often require VCT non-static tile flooring and some benching, while others may need ventilation as well. However, ventilation can get expensive, so in these cases space on a higher floor may be a better fit.
Q: Where is the real demand for flex spaces? Where are the most active spots?
JR: Landlords who have flex space availability are in high demand right now, especially along the Route 128 Loop. Due to high prices for lab space in Cambridge, tenants are seeking alternative locations for their operations. The real demand right now outside of Boston and Cambridge is in Waltham, Lexington, Newton and Watertown, along with an emerging cluster in Bedford. Towns that don’t have much lab space (like Burlington) are starting to feel a slowdown, which is a big part of the reason why Bedford is getting a lot of attention. As flex space continues to fill up, we will continue watching for new suburban markets that may emerge as a good fit for tenants.
Jason Rexinis is an Assistant Vice President with NAI Hunneman’s Suburban Leasing & Advisory Service Team. Jason advises clients on leasing & sale transactions in the 128 Market including Waltham, Burlington and Lexington.
Q&A with Markell Blount: NAI Hunneman’s newest Assistant Vice President of our Cambridge/Life Science Team
We sat down with the newest member of our team, Markell Blount, who will be focused on the Cambridge/Life Science market in his new role at NAI Hunneman. With more than 15 years of experience in software management consulting under his belt, Markell made the move to commercial real estate a few years ago and is eager to be a part of our entrepreneurial team and make his mark in the life sciences market.
Q: What brought you to the NAI Hunneman team?
Markell Blount: When I made the switch to the commercial real estate industry I spent a lot of time doing some homework on what type of firm I wanted to work for. The entrepreneurial spirit of NAI Hunneman is one of the main things that attracted me to the company, as well as its history in the industry and the strong leadership headed up by CEO David Slye. He has the company headed in an exciting direction, and I am grateful to be on board.
Q: It’s only been a few weeks since you’ve joined, but what have you been focused on so far?
MB: I have spent time in Cambridge getting the lay of the land, as well as connecting with clients and other contacts in the market. At the same time, I am working to learn more about the new areas that I cover, including some properties in the suburban market.
Q: What is one thing you learned in your previous roles that you’ve brought to the NAI Hunneman team?
MB: I actually started my career in the software management and consulting industry where I worked for fifteen years, which gave me entrepreneurial and leadership experience that I bring to my team here at NAI Hunneman. I had always wanted to work in real estate, but it is a hard industry to break into when you’re older so it was a tough fight to get into the business. I have experience in the life sciences space from my previous position at Cushman & Wakefield and I am also bringing my expertise in branding and positioning to the team.
Q: You’re also a former Boston College Eagle and football player. How has your experience as an athlete helped you in the real estate industry?
MB: Any athletic sport correlates to what we do in the real estate industry. Playing football has taught me to work hard, prepare and to make no excuses. That mentality from sports carries over well to real estate, and it helps me look at how to make myself better each day. I think athletics plays right into being a broker because it teaches you how to work as a team, strategize and become a leader.
Q: What trends are you seeing and what are your predictions for the next 12 months in the market?
MB: I have been seeing a continuous cross-migration in the Cambridge market, where small companies are being priced out and larger companies are moving in. There’s virtually no space available in Cambridge, so many of these smaller companies are looking for space in the nearby suburbs like Waltham and Lexington, and some are even heading west to the Worcester area. The current pricing and lack of availability in neighborhoods like Kendall Square and West Cambridge is leading this cross-migration, and I predict that this will continue in the coming year. This means that suburban locations vying for these tenants will need to have walkable amenities in order to successfully entice these companies that are used to the convenience of the city.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at NAI Hunneman?
MB: Right now, I’m looking forward to gaining market share in the life sciences industry. I think this industry is an exciting place to be right now, with a lot of robust growth. Moving forward, I want to help the team figure out how we can continue to add value in the market and help grow the life sciences practice at NAI Hunneman. As a local guy who fought to get into the real estate industry, I know an entrepreneurial and expanding firm like NAI Hunneman is a great fit for me.
Evan Gallagher, Executive Vice President, NAI Hunneman
In the Greater Boston lab market, companies that are looking for a new home or expanding rapidly are finding an extremely tight market. These companies prioritize the lab and the amenities they need for their work, which can mean looking at locations they may not have considered previously. This prioritization of the lab space itself illustrates how important specific features are to these companies. From the flow of space to a building’s existing infrastructure, here are the factors that tenants should consider within the four walls of lab space today:
- Flow: The ability for separate stages to flow naturally from each step and enhance efficiency is important to the way life science companies operate and conduct experiments. Tenants look at the shape of the building as well as column spacing – columns that are spaced too closely together result in small, tight spaces that do not allow for much freedom for a lab build-out. Companies must consider a host of buildings in order to finding a space where they can achieve the flow objectives they are looking for.
- Floor plates: Buildings with a large floor plate are desirable for lab tenants who need between 50,000-80,000 square feet of space. This breaks down to a floor plate in the 35,000-40,000-square-foot range, in which tenants will be able to set up equipment effectively and without squeezing too much into a tight space.
- Natural light: Offices with natural light have been shown to facilitate a positive work environment, which can make for a more enjoyable workplace. This lab feature is crucial to creating a vibrant work environment that makes the workplace enjoyable, and is especially important for companies looking to attract the best talent in the world.
- Infrastructure: In today’s market, there are two types of buildings where we find lab space. One has centralized infrastructure, which is designed from the ground up and allows a facility to be really -efficient – these buildings are also in higher demand, and are therefore more expensive. Another option is a facility that over time has been modified and converted into lab spaces, which generally has no centrally designed systems. Here, tenants need to carefully consider the space. Both options have pros and cons, and this consideration is part of the overall decision-making process. Tenants tend to lean toward centrally designed buildings, but this means they are faced with fewer options and premium pricing.
- Equipment: When jumping into a search for the right space, working with a tenant to compile a list of equipment the company helps us refine a list of buildings to consider. This is a crucial element because in a sense, the equipment list is the DNA behind the deal. What tenants are bringing to the space will determine what needs for power, HVAC, backup energy and other capabilities exist. Plus if a company is using hazardous materials they will need to know the requirements and restrictions of the building.
In the life science industry we can help make sure our clients understand all of the considerations that go into finding the right lab space for them – especially for those companies that are relatively young or those that are experiencing accelerated growth. Talking through a building’s flow, how natural light can energize a space and a company’s future needs is part of how we serve our clients and find the space that is right for them.
A version of this blog post originally appeared in the April 15 issue of NEREJ.
On the whole, Greater Boston’s commercial real estate markets posted positive results in the first quarter. Net absorption was positive, vacancies continued to decline and rents are still climbing. Looking forward, we expect fundamentals to remain positive in the near term, but 2016 will be a pivotal year as macro headwinds may be on the horizon.
Here are some highlights from our Q1 2016 market reports:
- The Greater Boston office market kicked off 2016 on a positive note. Last year’s strong leasing activity helped to push quarterly net absorption above 1 million square feet, and metrowide vacancies fell below 12%. The first quarter of 2016 was marked by handful major lease transactions, including BNY Mellon, Putnam Investments, Optum and Kronos, but none was more newsworthy than GE’s announcement to relocate its corporate headquarters to the Seaport District.
- Coming off a strong fourth quarter, the Greater Boston industrial market continued to impress during the first three months of 2016. First-quarter net absorption totaled more than 900,000 square feet, which was almost solely driven by the Route 128 markets. Though a few large move-outs along Route 495 led to some negative net absorption, but overall vacancies breached 10% — representing a 150-basis-point decline from year-ago levels.
- The Greater Boston lab market posted another strong quarter with net absorption surpassing 600,000 square feet and vacancies reaching record lows, at just 3.3%. Cambridge is leading the charge as demand for space is outstripping supply by a wide margin and vacancies declined to just 2%. This scarcity of space has lead tenants to execute forward lease commitments, look outside of Cambridge (and even the premier suburban markets) for lab space and consider build-to-suit construction.
Tight market conditions, rapidly rising rents and seemingly high barriers to entry are weighing on Boston-area tech companies. Many firms have been priced out of hot markets like Kendall Square and now the Seaport District, and available space in desirable locations is becoming increasingly harder to find. This outlook may seem challenging, but when pitted against similar top-tier cities around the country, Boston is more affordable than several other areas.
This infographic highlights several different data points, cost in particular, among major U.S. tech hubs. Where does Boston stack up? Findings include:
- VC Funding (2015): 4th with 10% of the U.S. total
- Tech Employment: 2nd with roughly 160,000 jobs
- Tech Wages: 4th at $118,800 per year
- Real Estate Costs/Employee: 6th at $6,010 per year
- Total Costs (Wages + Real Estate): 6th at $124,899 per year
- Top Submarket Rents: 4th at $60/SF in the Back Bay
Looking at the data, Boston is squarely in the “value” markets, with all-in costs per employee in line with Seattle and slightly below Washington D.C. Silicon Valley is arguably the deepest and most dynamic tech market in the country, but tenants have to pay a significant premium for both real estate and employee wages (70% more when compared to Boston). San Francisco isn’t much cheaper and Manhattan boasts some of the most expensive residential real estate prices in the country.
For tenants that want and/or need to operate in one of these key tech markets, Boston offers several cost advantages.
Each year, the Commercial Brokers Association (CBA) recognizes the Greater Boston area’s most significant deals and honors local professionals for their work. Professionals of all markets come together to celebrate achievement in the real estate industry. NAI Hunneman was nominated for five awards this year, and we were excited to support our nominated colleagues at the event.
Cathy Minnerly and Ovar Osvold were honored with the award for Industrial Deal of the Year for their work with Martignetti Cos. and the closing of an $11.5 million deal for 115 acres in Taunton’s Myles Standish Industrial Park. NAI Hunneman represented Taunton Development/MassDevelopment Corp. in the deal. The beverage distributor plans to invest $100 million in a new 680,000-square-foot headquarters and distribution facility.
NAI Hunneman represented the Fall River Redevelopment Authority in its sale of 77 acres in SouthCoast Life Science & Technology Park to Amazon for a 1.1-million-square-foot distribution center, for which Mike DiGiano, Cathy Minnerly and Ovar Osvold won the Community Impact Award. The distribution facility in Fall River will create more than 500 full-time jobs.
Congratulations to our team and all nominees and winners for a job well done! Here is the full list of NAI Hunneman nominations this year:
- Evan Gallagher and Ben Sutton were nominated for Most Creative Deal of the Year Under 40,000 SF.
- Mike DiGiano, Cathy Minnerly and Ovar Osvold were nominated for the Community Impact Award.
- Cathy Minnerly and Ovar Osvold were nominated for Industrial Deal of the Year.
- Cathy Minnerly was nominated for Broker of the Year.
- Ovar Osvold was nominated for Rising Star of the Year.
Largest high tech manufacturing facility in New England offers robust infrastructure at unparalleled value
If you’re currently in the market for a substantial amount of manufacturing space in Massachusetts, you should be looking in North Andover. Osgood Landing is one of the state’s few sites where companies can find more than 500,000 square feet of first-class office, manufacturing and R&D space.
Renowned as the largest high tech manufacturing facility in New England, Osgood Landing has a reputation for innovation and efficiency – beginning with Western Electric in the 1950s. More recently, Lucent Technologies employed more than 12,000 people at the site. Located at 1600 Osgood Street, today the site has almost one million square feet of available and sub-dividable space that sits within 169 acres of land, which will allow tenants to expand onsite. The property boasts flexibility and large blocks of space, while only being a short drive to both Logan International Airport and Manchester Regional Airport – Lawrence Municipal Airport is also right next door, and there is a rail line directly to the site.
Located just off Interstate 495, Osgood Landing’s location in North Andover allows access to Boston in addition to the region’s highly skilled workforce and economic infrastructure, while tenants can enjoy a far lower cost profile than locations closer to the urban core. The site also provides the ideal infrastructure for a corporate headquarters as well as large scale manufacturing uses – including on-site MVRTA public bus service, and green initiatives like a solar power array and high efficiency gas boilers. The site’s robust infrastructure features 50 MVA clean power from dual feeds, 10,000 ton total HVAC capacity, 500 pound per square foot floor load in manufacturing area and there is extensive plug and play bus duct in place.
Tenants will also find an array of unique features and benefits at the campus, with more than 40 acres of free parking, a 300 seat auditorium, on-site food service, a 150 seat private executive dining room, flexible space, and fully automated utilities with built in redundancies. These amenities will attract a highly skilled workforce living in the affordable Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.
Osgood Landing is one of few options anywhere with the size, infrastructure and value to meet the needs of the largest companies in the world. A state designated economic target area, future tenants from innovative industries – from life science and biotech to medical device and the high tech manufacturing and assembly sector – will find unparalleled infrastructure and amenities as well as limitless opportunity to expand with growth.
For More information on Osgood Landing Download our Marketing Brochure
Ben Sutton & Jeff Becker
With General Electric’s announcement that it will move its headquarters – and about 800 jobs – to Boston, many see the move as validation for the region’s reputation as a “magnet for innovation,” and a testament to the incredible transformation that has unfolded in the last decade and a half. Regarding the move, CEO Jeff Immelt noted, “We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations.” Boston’s Innovation District will certainly be a fit for a company looking to attract a technologically fluent, collaborative, dynamic and creative workforce as GE remakes itself into “an industrial company for the digital age.”
In the wake of GE’s announcement, we may see other companies follow suit and begin searching for space in the Seaport District (including those that work closely with GE already). But the area hasn’t always been a hotspot for innovation and technology companies. Historically, Boston has actually been cost-prohibitive for companies looking to move. According to Moody’s Analytics, the cost of doing business in the city has traditionally been higher than the national average – it is currently 23% higher – and the business costs of cities like Dallas or Charlotte are much lower. As the Seaport has transformed over the course of the last 15 years (and seen an influx of large firms move across the Fort Point Channel), companies are now willing to pay more money to be here – where investing in innovation makes financial sense, and the access to talent and amenities outweighs the price differential.
Still, could anyone have imagined that GE would move to the Seaport District 30 years ago? The Seaport District is wildly different today than it was then. Two experts at NAI Hunneman, Ben Sutton and Jeff Becker, weigh in based on their experiences in the neighborhood.
Value of space:
According to Jeff Becker, the price for brick and beam office space in the Seaport District in 1985 was $10-12 per square foot, and for industrial space, it was around $2-4 per square foot. The neighborhood provided great value, but it wasn’t necessarily attractive to companies like GE back then. Today, Ben Sutton says “We see rates in the high $40s, around $47 or $48 per square foot” (a comparable rate to low-rise space in financial district towers but the real value is the proximity to like-minded companies). The Seaport also provides a strategic location with access to downtown.
Industries represented in the Seaport:
The Seaport has traditionally been thought of as an industrial area. “As the heart of Boston’s industrial past, it was home to fisheries and waterway transportation dating back to 1865 when Boston Wharf put up its first building,” says Jeff. As a multidisciplinary and industrial hub, it supported the infrastructure of the downtown and metro area and it wasn’t known for one sector. Mayor Menino’s vision for the “Innovation District” ultimately reshaped what companies thought of the Seaport. Rebranding and investing in key players has been a big part of this effort – think big players like Vertex, Goodwin Procter, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fish & Richardson and Fidelity Investments alongside emerging technology firms that are pushing the boundaries of innovation and reshaping the workplace, like WeWork and LogMeIn. “The Seaport District is known for its tech companies and startups, which can lease space that works for them as they grow,” adds Ben. Growing software companies like Workable, Skyhook and Autodesk call the Seaport District home, and will soon call GE a neighbor. Landlords like Clarion Partners, Invesco and Jamestown have also been instrumental in helping turn the Seaport District into a place where these companies can thrive.
Identity and culture:
The Seaport District has embraced a new and distinct identity, moving beyond the notion that the neighborhood is only an industrial area that supports Boston. But the area is not just a hot neighborhood for emerging companies. As a haven for creative tech types, it’s also a destination where we’ve seen increased residential development, hotels, new hip restaurants and a significant retail presence. As Ben says, “The Seaport is a place where we see younger companies looking to cultivate the type of work environment they want, with a particular lifestyle.” Class B, brick and beam office space that features an open floor plan is attractive to tenants, and this in turn drives interest in more projects – those that meet the “work, live, play” attitude of employees, like new eateries and mixed-use projects with a residential component that employees can call home. Developers are eager to meet these needs: the last big parcel of open land at Seaport Square was recently sold with plans for development. GE has taken note, and with this move has reaffirmed what Bostonians have been witness to: established firms and up-and-coming startups alike now look to the Seaport as the newest arm of Boston.
GE is one of the latest companies to move to the bustling Seaport District, but it certainly won’t be the last. And with the company’s decision to move comes a larger discussion for GE: how will they reshape their culture and identity in a new location? The move also gives even more credence to the buzz behind this corner of Boston’s hot real estate market, where the vacancy rate is at a historic low. All of this has implications for Boston beyond the Seaport. Boston is the innovative ecosystem CEO Jeff Immelt was looking for.
NAI Hunneman’s Downtown Team
NAI Hunneman’s Downtown Leasing & Advisory Service team consists of Peter Evans, Ben Sutton, Jeff Becker, Brooke Blue and Colin Gordon.
The concept of value in the downtown Boston office markets has changed over the past few years. As discussed in NAI Hunneman’s Q4 2015 Office Market Report, market fundamentals are currently favoring Boston landlords, resulting in limited space options and rising rents. Downtown asking rents are averaging almost $52 per square foot, with rates in what have traditionally been secondary and tertiary submarkets reaching new heights.
Once providing reprieve from escalating rents, these areas have grown into well-established, desirable office markets in their own right. The Seaport has attracted firms like PwC, Autodesk and General Electric. Arnold Worldwide and Primark recently opened shop in Downtown Crossing and the Leather District is now home to dozens of young startup companies. Boston Properties is currently underway on a landmark, mixed-use development at the Garden in North Station.
The result of these trends is two-fold.
- Tenants that want to be downtown are paying premium rents, as they measure value in terms of amenities, access to labor, etc.
- Price-sensitive firms are seeking alternative locations outside of the core downtown markets — particularly along public transit routes. Companies have been able to find relief in submarkets like Somerville and Charlestown, but even these areas are tightening quickly.
So, what is the next frontier for price-sensitive firms in Boston? Activity will push out of the core along the subway lines:
- South along the Red Line toward UMass and Quincy.
- South along the Orange and Silver lines into Roxbury and Dorchester.
- North toward Chelsea and Everett (future home of Wynn’s casino).
- North along the Blue Line to East Boston, where new residential developments are popping up.
As these areas heat up, we’re sure to see a change in rents downtown, stretching out along the subway lines. What will be the new value areas? Only time will tell.
In like a lion, out like a lion is an accurate summary of commercial real estate activity we saw in Q4 2015. In our new Q4 2015 market report our Director of Research, Liz Berthelette, analyzed trends and data in office, industrial and life science markets. Due to strong employment gains, corporate relocations and expansions, and increasing capital flows to the area, the Greater Boston office market ended 2015 on a positive note. Our report for this quarter focuses on key takeaways from this growth including:
- Positive absorption, strong leasing and rising rents can be found across all property types.
- While a reshuffling of tenants resulted in negative absorption in a handful of downtown submarkets, there are few large blocks of space available. Look for vacancies to decline further in the near term as committed space becomes occupied.
- The Cambridge lab market is tighter than ever. Tenants looking for space, particularly in East Cambridge, will continue to face limited availabilities.
- Industrial market conditions are favorable as well, with owner-user sales and build-to-suit construction bolstering activity.
The Greater Boston industrial market roared to life at the end of 2015 helped by the region’s healthy, diverse economy. Looking forward, modern industrial facilities will remain in high demand with increasing rental rates, while older buildings will be considered for redevelopment. Dive into this and other big trends in our Q4 2015 market report. You can view the full report here.
When looking at the life sciences market in the Greater Boston area, it’s almost impossible to avoid the headlines teasing the next drug patent or the next expected IPO filing. A topic less discussed is the imbalance of supply and demand for lab space. With only about 600,000 square feet of available lab space in Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Medford, Somerville and Charlestown, life sciences companies are making sacrifices. One sacrifice is location. We have not seen many life sciences companies open to accepting lab space that is below standard. This has caused an expansion in existing life sciences clusters and even some new emerging markets.
However, the expansion of existing clusters will happen faster than emerging markets because:
- Companies want to be near similar, existing companies. A “part of the club” mentality.
- The town, in terms of getting permits and approvals, will have more experience and the process will be completed faster than towns that don’t.
- A life sciences developer is more likely to make an investment in a building that is surrounded by a similar development.
Here are existing markets where life sciences clusters are forming:
- Waltham: Boston Properties has had strong leasing growth lately with life science companies. A lab cluster is forming along Bear Hill Road and Second Avenue.
- Lexington: Specifically 115 Hartwell Avenue. Hartwell Ave has become a cluster in Lexington for life sciences companies. It is easily accessible right off Route 2 for talent coming from Cambridge. Also, placemaking, which is a theme developed by King Street Properties, is effective in Lexington. This is when a high energy collaborative community is created with shared amenities that bring people together. The key to this is the high-level designs that make you feel like you’re in Kendall Square.
- Bedford: One Patriot Park. This is the conversion of a former flex R+D building into a state of the art robust wet lab. Longfellow is the newest player to the game for biotech developers in the area. Their leadership team has a ton of experience building labs in areas like Central & Kendall Square.
- Woburn: 19 Presidential Way. The trend here is converting a large research and development facility for one big pharma tenant into a multi-tenant biotech facility.
- Watertown: The Linx Project off Arsenal and 65 Grove Street are the hot projects in Watertown that everyone is talking about. These projects offer large blocks of space that are well located on the edge of Cambridge.
Next emerging markets to keep an eye on:
For more information on existing and emerging life sciences areas, Evan Gallagher, executive vice president & principal, recently spoke with Don Seiffert of the Boston Business Journal. You can read the article here.
We are delighted to announce that our Executive Vice President and Principal, Cathy Minnerly, has been chosen as one of Boston Business Journal’s 2015 WomenUp. This year’s group of nearly two-dozen women executives was nominated based on the impact they have made in their company, their industry and their community.
As always, this year’s Women of Influence group is nothing short of impressive. Cathy was nominated among several other successful Boston women leaders including Massachusetts State Senator Karen Spilka, Boston Red Sox Vice President and Club Counsel Elaine Weddington Steward, and COO of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dorothy Puhy.
Cathy and the other Women of Influence will be honored at two upcoming events. The first is a private dinner exclusive to the Women of Influence honorees, and on December 8, the BBJ’s WomenUp/Women of Influence Award ceremony will take place. This event is where the business community will join in celebration of all nominees, and we cannot wait to support Cathy and represent NAI Hunneman.
In addition to her fantastic work at NAI Hunneman, Cathy is extremely active in the community. She is on the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, and a strong supporter of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center through the Prouty Ride for Cancer, The Child Fund, and The May Institute. Through her service, dedication and determination to NAI Hunneman and her community, Cathy Minnerly is truly a Women of Influence.
Here’s a deeper look at some of Cathy’s accomplishments and deals from 2015:
- Minnerly: Class A Warehouse Demand Growing
- Spec industrial warehouse to break ground in Taunton park
- Martignetti Plans Regional Headquarters at Myles Standish Industrial Park In Taunton, Massachusetts
- Martignetti consolidating Braintree, Norwood offices with new $100M HQ
Join us in congratulating Cathy!
After courting the Fall River area for more than a year, dirt is moving on Amazon’s 1-million-square-foot distribution center in the South Coast Life Sciences and Technology Park, which is the latest and biggest in a string of deals that Amazon has made in Massachusetts. The 77-acre parcel was purchased from the Fall River Redevelopment Authority, with NAI Hunneman’s Mike DiGiano and Cathy Minnerly representing the land owner.
The deal will be transformative for the gateway city of Fall River, and speaks to the “Amazon effect.” Outside of Massachusetts, the online retailing behemoth is changing the landscape of commercial real estate on a global scale. Headquartered in Seattle, Amazon’s impact on the local office market is unrivaled and even the Greater Boston area is feeling the effects. Locally, Amazon entered the metro’s office market in 2013 and now occupies more than 130,000 square feet of office space between two buildings. The majority of this space is located in Cambridge at 101 Main Street and there’s roughly 20,000 square feet located at 8 Technology Drive in Westborough.
Amazon is also turning the global industrial market on its head. In just five years, the firm’s warehouse footprint has more than doubled in the U.S. alone — surpassing 40 million square feet in 2015. Continued growth in e-retailing and digital shopping has led to two major trends in warehouse demand: the proliferation of modern, mega distribution centers (in excess of 1 million square feet) and greater demand for smaller, urban warehouses. Both of these trends are playing out within the Boston metro.
With a 305,000-square-foot distribution center at 1000 Technology Center Drive in Stoughton (former Reebok space) and Kiva Systems (an Amazon-owned robotics company) occupying 209,000 at 300 Riverpark Drive in North Reading, Amazon has already made a splash in the local industrial market. The latest 77-acre deal will result in a new distribution center will initially employ 500 people and eventually reach nearly 2,000 during peak seasons.
As demographic trends continue to shift in the U.S., with Generations X, Y and Z becoming an increasing larger share of the total population base, so will consumer behaviors. Ultimately, customers are increasingly seeking more digital shopping options, shorter delivery times and faster service. Retailers, including Amazon, are reacting to these changing patterns. In Q3 this year the firm leased 96,000 square feet at 201 Beacham Street in Everett — likely to bring its Prime Now concept, which offers customers deliveries in as little as 1 hour, to Boston.
Amazon’s continued expansion into the metro, mainly in Boston’s industrial market, bodes well for future commercial real estate demand and local job growth.
Christie & McGee Represent Seller & Procure buyer in Sale of 32-units in at the Corner of Commonwealth Avenue in Brighton
BOSTON—NAI Hunneman, a leading provider of commercial real estate services, recently brokered the $13.6 Million sale of a 32-unit multifamily property located at 31 & 35 South Street in Brighton, MA. The buildings were purchased 100% leased through August 2017.
Executive Vice President Carl Christie, assisted by Sales Associate Dan McGee represented the seller J&W South Street LLC and procured the buyer Akelius US, LLC,
“These properties are very attractive to student and young professional renters, and usually remain leased due to the proximity to Boston College and Downtown,” said Christie. “The characteristics of the assets were a perfect match for the buyer who has been focused on acquiring multifamily assets in and around Boston.”
Located near the intersection of South Street and Commonwealth Avenue, 31 & 35 South Street are two adjacent brick apartment buildings totaling a combined thirty-two units. The property includes off-street parking and is only a short walk to the MBTA Green line stop at the corner of Commonwealth Ave.
About NAI Hunneman:
Headquartered in Boston, NAI Hunneman is a leading provider of commercial real estate services to corporations, institutions and the private market. NAI Hunneman is a member NAI Global, the premier network of independent commercial real estate firms and one of the largest commercial real estate service providers worldwide. NAI Global manages a network of 6,700 professionals and 375 offices throughout the world. NAI professionals work together with its global management team to help clients strategically optimize their real estate assets. To learn more about NAI Hunneman and the NAI Global Network please visit http://www.naihunneman.com