Archive for the ‘Closed Deals’ Category

Looking Back

In Closed Deals on January 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

In late 2007, when my team first started kicking around the idea of doing some retail leasing, it was all about the 25,000 sf of vacant retail at the Watermark building (350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA) – this was our only project and our day one purpose. In early 2008 we started marketing the Watermark retail and shortly thereafter took on some other projects in Kendall Square.  In 2009 we closed our first wave of deals and started to realize we were onto something.  In 2010 we officially launched CityRetail and it was a year full of experiments: our first completed deal outside of Kendall Sq, our first project working on the tenant-side and the addition of a handful of new landlord clients.

Today, CityRetail’s reach extends beyond the Watermark (21,400 sf leased; remaining 3,600 under agreement) but our approach has been shaped by our past experiences.  When we got started three years ago it was a grind and there were no shortcuts – it took a lot of work and diligence to get top chefs and small business owners to (i) come visit us in Kendall Square and (ii) take our vision seriously. In retrospect, I think 2008 was about educating and exploring – both ourselves and our tenant prospects.  How could we recruit a restaurant without understanding the economics of the business, the challenges of building a kitchen and the players in the scene? How could we recruit that restaurant to Kendall Square without understanding and being able to articulate the opportunity, the challenges and the local players in neighborhood?  Well, we couldn’t; and we didn’t. Over the past couple of years though we’ve learned a lot about the neighborhood and about restaurants, dry cleaners, gyms, yoga studios, grocery stores and day care centers… We’ve got a ways to go but we’ve become smart.  Smart enough to know that this is still hard work and that we are only as good as our last project.  Accordingly, here are CityRetail’s last four closed projects from Q4 2010, which rounded out a great year:  (read more…) Read the rest of this entry »


In Closed Deals on September 8, 2010 at 10:06 am

In my last post, “Security Deposits,” I note that I have worked on 16 closed retail deals (i.e. signed lease – all new deals; not extensions) since the beginning of 2009. Here are some stats:

  • 8 /16 restaurants; others being a boutique, gift shop, 2 gym/health clubs, dry cleaner, preschool, dentist and a specialty shop
  • 11/16 in Cambridge; 4 Boston; 1 Somerville
  • 5/16 start-ups / new retail concepts
  • 11/16 Tenants have one or more add’l locations in MA
  • 3/16 Tenants have one or more add’l locations outside of MA
  • 1/16 is an international or national chain.
  • 5/16 Premises size 1,000 sf or less
  • 8/16 Premises size between 1,001 sf and 5,000 sf
  • 3/16 Premises size 5,001 sf or more
  • 1/16 Lease term 20 years
  • 7/16 Lease term 10 years
  • 6/16 Lease term 5 years
  • 2/16 Lease term 3 years
  • 1/16 Tenants currently behind in rent payments and in default
  • 16/16 Tenants have option to extend Lease
  • 4/8 Restaurant deals have a % rent provision
  • 4/16 Tenants represented by Broker
  • 12/16 LL represented by Broker

Security Deposits

In Closed Deals, Retail Thoughts on September 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Every retail lease negotiation I have worked on since Jan 1, 2009 (between my law office and CityRetail there are dozens, of which 16 have closed, i.e. a lease has been signed) has hinged largely on the amount of and/or form of security given by Tenant to LL in consideration of the Lease.

Most of us are familiar with security deposits in the residential game – you know, “first, last and security.” Residential tenants in the Boston/Cambridge market typically sign a 12-month lease and pay one month rent towards security.  Accordingly, if you bail and/or stop paying rent the LL has a one month cushion before it gets messy.  There is no formula in the retail game though and deal terms vary greatly:  the length of the tenancy can vary from 3 to 20 years (I’ve seen both in the 16 closed deals since ’09);  landlords often, especially in this market, will put some of their own money into improving the property, which can range from $10,000 to $500,000 (again, seen both); and the condition of spaces range from being ready for immediate occupancy (Lease executed and within days shop is open for business) to a 6-month plus period to obtain licenses and convert a cold-dark space into an occupiable space…  You get the point – lots of moving pieces and no deal is the same.

So then, how have I seen Security handled?… 16 different ways.  Security has been in the form of cash, a letter of credit, a security interest in another piece of real property and/or tangible asset(s), a personal guarantee, etc… (read more) Read the rest of this entry »


In Closed Deals on July 27, 2010 at 9:46 pm

It’s astounding how quickly news travels. Twitter has changed the way we share/consume information and blogs have become a primary source to many for local news and opinion pieces (or a combo thereof). It takes one click to publish/broadcast information across the globe. This 2010 reality leaves few stones untouched, restaurant industry specifically included.

I would love it if this post was making news in reporting that Blue State Coffee is coming to Boston but it’s been in the food/restaurant blogosphere for a couple days now: within hours of the “Coming Soon” sign going up tweets were flying; the lease was signed today and immediately Grub Street (one of the most popular food/resto blogs in the country and a div of New York Magazine) reported on the deal (Grub Street link). Grub Street’s source? – a craigslist job posting by Blue State Coffee…

While I may not be making news, I offer this post as confirmation that Blue State Coffee is indeed coming to Boston and will be opening at 957 Commonwealth Avenue (5th location – two in New Haven, CT and two in Providence, RI). The shop is 1,900 sf smack in the middle of BU’s west campus. Blue State will offer the best coffee/espresso in the neighborhood (if you are regular reader of this blog you know of my affection for coffee and constant search for / ramblings re: cafes) and should be one of Boston’s best coffeehouses. This is CityRetail’s first deal outside of Kendall and a deal we are really excited to have been a part of. Go ahead, spread the news!

Evoo & Za, finally.

In Closed Deals, Kendall Square, Restaurant News on March 4, 2010 at 9:58 pm

When I joined Twining Properties two years ago I had one primary assignment: bring life, energy and value to the ground floor, front-corner retail space in the Watermark.  The task of bringing a full-service, locally owned, responsible and acclaimed restaurant to the Watermark occupied a lot of my time through 2008 and 2009.  It was a challenging assignment in a misunderstood neighborhood during an extremely difficult economic period.  Our team toured dozens of the areas top restauranteurs, signed a lease and subsequently lost the deal in late 2008 due to a financing contingency (not a unique story for Fall 2008) and  went back to the market in 2009 determined to find the best possible operator.  Enter: Evoo & Za.

Closing the Evoo & Za deal was a true team effort.  From our main office in New York City to our financial partner in Des Moines, all parties put in the time and imagination to make this work.  Crafting the deal here in Cambridge for Twining Properties was David Downing, Brian Dacey and myself, with some crucial assistance from restaurant guru and now CityRetail collaborator, Michael Staub.

Now, on the eve of Evoo & Za opening at the Watermark, all is good.  We have one of the areas top chefs, Peter McCarthy, operating one of the most acclaimed neighborhood restaurants in metro Boston, Evoo, with another McCarthy restaurant next door, Za.  Peter owns and operates the restaurants with his wife, Colleen, and business partner, Steve Kurland (Evoo was previously located on Beacon Street in Somerville; Za has another location in Arlington, on Mass Ave.).  CityRetail believes that the best restaurants have the best operators – Evoo/Za is no exception. I’ll stop gushing now and just share some recent pics. I suspect the next round of pictures will be of a very crowded restaurant… (read more to view pictures) Read the rest of this entry »

Pine Village Preschool to Kendall

In Closed Deals, Kendall Square on February 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

[t] CityRetail thinks about retail leasing as it relates to the larger dynamic of Kendall Square. Upon jumping into the business of retail leasing in 2008, one of our first moves was to work with Gezyme and survey its employees – we needed to understand the perspective of folks working in the neighborhood. The results of the survey helped guide our search for neighborhood amenities.  The number one item on the list was child-care and our search for a provider began immediately. We spoke to locals and nationals, we had some early hits, negotiated a couple deals and we worked with the City to understand the relevant licensing and zoning issues. In addition, we reached out to other local brokers. It’s been a work in progress. At first, more work than progress.  While we’ve closed deals for a fitness center, restaurants, dry cleaner, and cafe, all on the top of the Genzyme’s list of needs, a child-care deal has eluded us, until now.

Two days ago a lease was fully executed for a preschool in Kendall.  Location will be on the first floor of 675 West Kendall Street (Vertex & Momenta Pharm home), steps away from the Genzyme Center. Pine Village Preschool is coming to Kendall!

CityRetail worked hard on this deal with Landmark Real Estate Advisors.  Of the 7 deals we have closed of late, this is the first deal in which we’ve worked with cooperating broker and it has been a pleasure.  Eric Solem and his team at Landmark are true professionals and share many of our core ideologies about deal momentum, deal making and deal closing.  Thank you Eric.  Thank you BioMed.  Thank you Pine Village Preschool.  Oh, and thanks for the tip, Genzyme.

Green & Gold

In Closed Deals, General, Kendall Square on February 24, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Yesterday the [t] Twining Properties team got word that the Watermark has received LEED Gold certification.  The Watermark is the only rental building in Massachusetts to be LEED Gold and it is the first multi-family existing building in the U.S. to achieve such in the latest version of the Operations and Management category.  This is outstanding news and speaks to the corporate values of [t] Twining Properties and [t] CityRetail. Catherine Malmberg Dannenbring in our New York Office spearheaded this effort and has brought her expertise to the Evoo & Za buildout as well – opening expected in the next couple of weeks! – coordinating an effort to get LEED Commercial Interiors certification for the restaurant.

In addition to Evoo & Za, CityRetail has/is actively pursuing additional green retailers.  Segway and Clevergreen are two such deals we closed of late that demonstrate such a commitment and we remain motivated to bring other environmentally responsible retail to Kendall (we’ve got a coffeehouse and a yoga studio deal in the works, both of which fit this mold).

In sum, news of LEED Gold certification for the Watermark is a true accomplishment, especially when you consider that it is built over a brownfield (as is the Genzyme Center). From brownfield to LEED Gold – pretty impressive.  A story not surprising in a neighborhood that was referred to yesterday by Governor Patrick as fearless, distinct and innovative.

Another Challenge

In Closed Deals, General on February 19, 2010 at 8:28 am

Dave and I toured a very interesting space in East Cambridge yesterday afternoon with folks from Jones Lang Lasalle, property and leasing managers for a building owned by Principal Global Investors, a CityRetail client. The space was previously a corporate cafeteria for IBM and has some potential for a retail use. Devising a retail leasing strategy for this space will be a tremendous challenge but it is the kind of challenge that spurred the creation of CityRetail.

This business grew organically out of our team’s ability to take on challenging assignments. Of the seven retail deals we’ve closed in the last eight months, only one of such is in space that has previously been occupied and every premises has sat vacant for long periods of time. Our team took on very tough assignments and had successes where prior firms had not. We took to leasing retail in Kendall and East Cambridge with an open mind and determined approach.  A great example is an assignment we got from Principal: to lease an awkward shaped storefront space (long and narrow and divided by a garage entrance) on First Street that hadn’t been leased since the building went up… over 20 years ago! A lease was signed last month with Lux Dental, a multi-specialty dental care center. Our successes are largely due to our ability to thinking outside of the box, encourage reasonableness (on both sides) and bridge the divide between small, local business and large, national landlords. We speak both languages (that of small business and institutional landlord) and put in the time and resources to see deals through.

future home of Lux Dental

The Genzyme Center

In Closed Deals, General, Kendall Square on January 25, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Articles have been written, awards won and much praise has been given to the Genzyme Center in Kendall Square.  It is an amazing place; an amazing space.  It is designed to be, and is, one of the most environmentally responsible buildings in North America.

CityRetail, working for BioMed Realty Trust, is charged with finding tenants for the first floor retail space in the Genzyme Center.  How do you find retailers that mesh with one of the most innovative and bold buildings in the country?  Well, we’re working on it.  In my last blog entry, “What Lies Above,” I wrote about the importance of understanding ground floor retail in relation to the use that lies above.  With this in mind, the Genzyme Center assignment is as challenging as it is exciting.  In 2009 our team placed Segway, the company behind the  self-balancing, zero emissions personal transporter, in the Genzyme Center (see: Segway of Boston) . It was a match made in Kendall heaven. Now, in 2010, we are close to another deal and working hard to find a use for a 2,000 sf spot.  Thoughts? Think Green…

Clevergreen Cleaners to Kendall Square

In Closed Deals, General, Kendall Square on January 20, 2010 at 11:59 pm

[t] CityRetail is delighted to announce that Clevergreen Cleaners will be coming to Kendall Square in early 2010.  Clevergreen is self-described as follows:

We are a family owned and operated company with a commitment to preserving our environment by consistently looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint.  At Clevergreen Cleaners, our passion is fashion, fabrics and the environment, knowing that the clothes we care for are worn by people, our valued clients.

Our team set out on the process of recruiting a professional dry cleaner to Kendall over a year ago… (read more) Read the rest of this entry »