Cambridge, MA Market Rents

In General on October 4, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Last Wednesday night I put on a workshop through the City of Cambridge Economic Development Division titled “Real Estate Leasing Basics for Small Businesses.” It was a lot of fun and I was honored to have been asked by the City to create the program and present. At the end of the workshop I spoke a bit to “market rents” in Cambridge and gave some dollar ranges. It seemed to be helpful for the group and I’m going to repeat the same herein.

First though, it’s crucial to note that rents in Cambridge can swing well in excess of $10 per square foot (“psf”) from one block to the next and pricing is dependent on various facts and circumstances — visibility/frontage, character of building, size of space, zoning regs, amount of money Tenant needs to invest in premises, operating expenses (taxes, insurance, CAM), etc. In the past I’ve shied away from making reps re: market rent because there are so many variables but the workshop last week seemed like as good a time as ever to throw caution to the wind and toss some thoughts into the public domain. Accordingly, here you go:

*Note that the rents below are exclusive of additional rent (common area charges, taxes and insurance) and are annual prices (psf figures in the commercial leasing context are almost always annual numbers).

Ok, so let’s start with the highest rents in Cambridge – Harvard Sq – and then I’ll jump around a bit… (read more)

Harvard Square rents can be $100 psf and higher for primetime locations and go as low as the $40s psf for spots on side-streets just outside of the heart of the square.

Central Square rents are primarily in the $40 – $50 range with some outliers on both ends. Push out of the heart of the square in any direction and rents drop quickly to $30s.

Kendall Square rents are primarily in the $30s with some outliers on both sides. East Cambridge (corridor between Lechmere and Inman Sq) rents are in the low$20s. Inman Square rents rise into the $30s and $40s for the best spots.  Rents drop off again when you get a couple blocks outside of Inman in any direction.

Porter Square rents are all over the place, partially due to the fact that there is (i) an urban strip-mall smack in the middle of the square and (ii) a very unique university owned building (Lesley University’s Porter Exchange Blding) that together combine for over 100,000 sf of retail space.  Regardless, I think it’s fair to say that the core range in Porter is $30s to $50s.

The Mass Ave. corridor stretching from Porter back towards Harvard is in the mid-to-low $30s with some outliers on both sides.  Huron Village is the same. Heading in the other direction from Porter – into North Cambridge and towards Arlington/RT 16 – rents top off at $30s psf and are in the low $20s in some spots.

Retail in both Fresh Pond and along Memorial Drive is big box driven (both neighborhoods are anchored by a Whole Foods and Trader Joes) with some smaller uses spattered in.  Rents range tremendously in these areas and the retail is geared towards commuters and very much reliant on parking. This is where my and CityRetail’s expertise tapers off a bit — throw strip malls and big parking lots at us and we leave our comfort zone.  Accordingly, I’ll hold back a reckless guess on this stuff. The rest of the above though isn’t reckless, as I’ve seen dozens of deals that fall in the above ranges.

Please don’t be shy and let me know (via a comment below or otherwise) where/if I have missed the mark. Market rents in the urban retail context are really tough and I look forward to some feedback on this topic.

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