Lesley University Selling “Cambridge Connection,” Portfolio of 10 Cambridge Properties
Posted By: Boston City Properties
To fund significant upcoming capital improvements across its three Cambridge-based campuses, Lesley University recently listed a portfolio of 10 historic properties. Located in the heart of the city between Porter Square and Harvard Square, the properties are being marketed exclusively by Cushman & Wakefield. Dubbed “The Cambridge Connection,” the mix of properties includes a freestanding office in Porter Square, a dormitory and several Victorian homes currently being used as offices and residential buildings. The properties include more than 85,000 square feet of combined space, but they will be available for individual purchase.
Consisting as it does of historic buildings that have been institutionally owned and maintained by the university, the portfolio represents an exciting opportunity for real estate investors interested in Cambridge real estate. A rare offering, the portfolio includes eight buildings clustered together along one block at Mellen Street and Massachusetts Avenue. Cushman & Wakefield’s Multi-Family Advisory Group, which is in charge of marketing the portfolio, notes that the properties in question are unencumbered by long-term leases. They are being sold on an “as is” basis, and there is no formal asking price.
The properties that make up the prestigious Cambridge Connection portfolio include the following:
- 1627 Massachusetts Avenue – Built in 1862, this three-story, 6,821-square-foot building currently serves as an administration office.
- 7 Mellen Street – Built in 1883, this three-story, 6,220-square-foot building is also an administration office for the university.
- 9 Mellen Street – Built in 1885, this three-story, 5,606-square-foot building is another administrative office.
- 11 Mellen Street – Built in 1836, this is another administrative office building standing three stories tall and offering 4,545 square feet.
- 13 Mellen Street – Built in 1859, 13 Mellen Street is another three-story office building offering 5,086 square feet.
- 17 Mellen Street – Built in 1858, this three-story, 3,358-square-foot building currently serves as a boarding house.
- 19 Mellen Street – Also built in 1858, 19 Mellen Street is a two-unit apartment building standing three stories tall and offering 2,721 square feet.
- 21 Mellen Street – Another one built in 1858, this three-story building offers 5,293 square feet and currently houses three apartment units.
- 6 Sacramento Street – Built in 1880, this three-story building currently serves as a dormitory and offers 15,696 square feet.
- 815 Somerville Avenue – The newest of the bunch, 815 Somerville, was built in 1973. The three-story office building offers 29,284 square feet of space and includes 17 covered parking spaces.
Located in prime, transit-oriented locations, the 10 Cambridge buildings are generating lots of interest from investors. According to the marketing firm, potential buyers have thus far expressed more interest in the long-term asset-preservation potential of these properties instead of shorter-term, return-focused gains. The portfolio presents many opportunities, including the potential for new ground-up residential construction, leasing up available commercial space, redevelopment into multifamily residential, conversion into luxury condos and much more. The portfolio could be sold to one buyer or multiple buyers, and it could be split into various combinations, including sub-portfolios.
Through the sale proceeds, Lesley University, which operates three campuses encompassing more than 1 million square feet across 16 acres in Cambridge, plans to engage in significant planned capital improvements across those areas. These plans include renovating the former Episcopal Divinity School campus, the remainder of which was bought by Lesley in 2018; upgrading historic Reed Hall; and renovating St. John’s Memorial Chapel at Brattle and Mason Streets.
This rare offering is unlikely to stay on the market for long, and it will be interesting to see whether the existing structures remain or if any are demolished to make way for new construction. Either way, developers should have no trouble making profitable use of these prime locations.