Too successful not to sell
Amid real estate surge, developer of Liberty Wharf aims to cash in
The owner of the Seaport District complex that includes Legal Harborside is putting the property up for sale, seeking to cash in on a surging real estate market as bidders line up for one of the city’s prime waterfront locations.
Cresset Development, which opened the popular Liberty Wharf complex just last year, is expected to get more than $60 million for the three-building complex, which replaced Jimmy’s Harborside restaurant. More than 80 parties have requested the marketing package from Cushman & Wakefield, the broker. .
“Buyers have a big appetite for mixed-use developments in live-work-play areas of cities right now,” lead broker Robert Griffin said. “This complex is ground zero for that dynamic in Boston.”
The complex houses five restaurants: Legal Harborside, Temazcal Tequila Cantina, Del Frisco’s steakhouse, Jerry Remy’s sports bar, and 75 at Liberty Wharf, a bar and grill scheduled to open in the fall.
In addition, the 28,000 square feet of office space is fully leased to Congress Wealth Management, the software company R Studio, and Fama PR, a public relations firm.
Liberty Wharf is among the most significant properties to go up for sale since the commercial real estate sector began to rebound from the recession. Foreign and domestic bidders are considering the property, which is hitting the market at a time when low interest rates and a scarcity of buying opportunities have put sellers in a commanding position.
The waterfront area, renamed the Innovation District by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, boasts Boston’s hottest real estate market. Rents for top-rated office space surged to over $55 per square foot at the end of second quarter, an 11 percent increase from the same period last year. In recent years, the area has attracted Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., the advertising firm Allen & Gerritsen, and the Boston Herald.
City-owned property next to Liberty Wharf has also generated interest. According to city records, more than 13 potential bidders have expressed interest in the property, on Pier 7 between Legal Harborside and the Bank of America Pavilion.
Among those interested are Cresset, the seller of Liberty Wharf, Legal Sea Foods, Boston Harbor Cruises, and New Boston Ventures, a South End development firm.
The city is seeking to encourage development of a complex that would complement Liberty Wharf’s sleek design with a commercial or residential use and a water-related activity.
Liberty Wharf has been crowded since its spring 2011 opening, adding to the string of bars, restaurants, and entertainment attractions that have turned the once-scrubby industrial area in a nighttime mecca to complement its burgeoning business community. The district has been lifted by billions of dollars in public investment, including the Silver Line, a massive convention center, and a new highway interchange that was part of the Big Dig.
“Liberty Wharf sets the standard for development along our South Boston Waterfront and elsewhere,” Menino said. “Its cutting-edge architecture, breathtaking views, and amazing public spaces have positioned this neighborhood for bigger and better things as we move forward.”
Cresset is also among several developers building apartments in the area. It has approval for 197 units across from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on D Street. And on Thursday, the West Coast development company Gerding Edlen will break ground on a 20-story apartment tower on nearby A Street, its first Boston project.
Casey Ross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.