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The Real Reporter

by Joe Clements

October 29, 2009

 

BROOKLINE—Score one—and a big one at that—for the locals.

Up against a bevy of national heavyweights, hometown real estate icon Harold Brown’s Hamilton Co. has completed its purchase of the hotly contested Dexter Park luxury apartments on the Boston border, paying a hefty sum of $129.5 million to secure the nine-story, 409-unit building in what is being touted as the priciest multifamily sale in the US for 2009. Under the leadership of Brown and President Carl Valeri, Allston-based Hamilton edged out such major players as Equity Residential, said to have been a whisker away from taking the asset.

“It has one of the best locations you can get,” Cushman & Wakefield Executive Director Simon J. Butler relays to The Real Reporter in assessing a robust response for Dexter Park. Butler, who represented the seller and procure Hamilton Co. along with Executive Director Biria St. John, says Dexter Park’s proven track record in commanding top market rents calmed fears over the torpid economy and prospects for continued trouble. “The competition was quite stiff,” Butler says, declining to offer details on
names or specific bids.

While some question a new report indicating Boston is outpacing New York City on apartment rents, Butler notes that the Hub always runs neck-and-neck with that metropolis and San Francisco as national leaders. A strong market and Dexter Park’s varied qualities made for a one-two punch hard to ignore among investors hungry for stable product, relays Butler, whose team has now sold more than $280 million of multifamily assets this year.

Valeri is hardly bashful in acknowledging his firm’s ardor for Dexter Park. “We were happy to pay what we paid for it,” he says, praising its “irreplaceable location,” plus $20 million in upgrades to the 35-year old building by owner UBS Global Asset Management Real Estate and the ability “to buy our competition.” In addition to three million sf of commercial space, Hamilton owns 5,000 residential units, including a large swath in the neighborhoods surrounding Dexter Park. Downtown Boston is just two miles west from its new holding, and the apartment building serves employees
working in the nearby Longwood Medical Area. Boston’s subway network is
close by, as are educational institutions such as Boston University.

Hamilton has no designs on a condominium play, the firm indicates in a press release. Residents have been apprised of the ownership switch, albeit a fairly well-known situation given that Hamilton committed to the deal nearly two months ago, as previously detailed by therealreporter.com. The buyer is a joint venture between Hamilton and Brown’s New England Realty Associates, with the entity getting permanent financing of $40 million by Wells Fargo on behalf of Freddie Mac. Sources put the interest rate at 5.5 percent and say the capitalization rate on the agreement runs between 6.2 and 6.5 percent, depending on whose math is being utilized.

Whatever the figure, Hamilton is “hitting the ground running,” Valeri says upon taking over the reins. The turnover was celebrated by a Halloween Party for children at the property on Wednesday, perhaps hearkening back to its days before 1974 when the 4.2-acre site housed the Dexter School. Hamilton is also offering residents discounts to a nearby health club and swimming pools.

When Dexter Park opened, Brown was 20 years into building his real estate empire in Greater Boston, and has been a resident of Brookline for 80 years. “We are pleased that such a large property for so many residents will be retained and operated by a local business, and a resident of Brookline,” says Valeri. “We believe that our local presence, knowledge and demonstrated ability to perform without interruption gave us the edge on the competition.”

For his part, Brown calls the opportunity “special” given that Brookline is his hometown. “It’s really exciting, not only to acquire a well-run property that hundreds of residents call home, but to be able to do so in such a dynamic community,” he says in the release. Hamilton also cited legal counsel Sally Michaels of Dionne & Gass for playing an “instrumental” role in getting the deal consummated.

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