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Group led by New Balance chair buys, intends to develop 15-acre Brighton plot

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  March 15, 2011 02:36 PM

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(Matt Rocheleau for Boston.com)

From atop a New Balance parking garage in the Guest Street complex, a view of the shoe company's headquarters building (left) and the adjacent and successive property a group headed by the company's chairman purchased last week that continues down the roadway until it reaches a Stop & Shop.

A group formed and run by New Balance’s chairman and former CEO intends to develop a 15-acre stretch of commercial property it recently purchased in Brighton adjacent to the shoe manufacturer’s headquarters along the Massachusetts Turnpike.

For $26.5-million in two separate deals finalized late last week, New Brighton Landing, LLC purchased two large, contiguous properties, 38-40 and 180 Guest St., which run along the Turnpike’s eastbound side.

The purchases come one year after New Balance unveiled plans for a $250 million mixed-use development there that would feature a sports complex, hotel, park, movie theater, office buildings, and community space, along with a commuter rail station and access to the turnpike.

Ty Hanlan, vice president of NB Guest Street Planning and Development LLC, announced that quarter-billion proposal at a public presentation last February. He said Tuesday that New Brighton Landing intends to develop the tract, but said the group will not “go forward with [or discuss] a concrete plan” until the city has come back with recommendations from its own, ongoing study of that area.

“New Brighton Landing is a standalone entity that was the purchaser of these properties, and it has only one thing in common with New Balance, which is that [New Balance Chairman and former CEO James [Jim] S.] Davis owns both” said Hanlan, who is employed by an entity owned by Davis.

New Balance officials declined to comment beyond a statement issued via company spokeswoman Amy Dow: “We continue to see great opportunity for future development in the Guest Street area, including the potential for a new company headquarters,” she said. “We recognize that there is a BRA Brighton Planning Study that will be done and look forward to participating in that process with the BRA, the City of Boston and the local community.”

About half of the acreage purchased by New Brighton Landing was previously under agreement for home improvement retailer Lowe’s to build a store.

Lowe’s proposals to build a store at 38-40 Guest St. were denied by the city’s redevelopment authority in Sept. 2007 and again last June as being “inadequate.” In early November, that site’s Newton-based developer told Boston.com it was exploring other options for the property.

Meanwhile, the city department that denied Lowe’s continues to move forward with a comprehensive study on multiple development scenarios for that section of Brighton.

Boston Redevelopment Authority spokeswoman Susan Elsbree said the city is excited about the prospect of development there and the potential job creation that would come along with it.

The city selected Sasaki Associates Inc., and its consultant team partners, Hacin + Associates and GLC Development, in recent weeks to design the Brighton Planning Study. The city hopes to complete the study, announced last summer, around the end of 2011.

Hanlan declined to discuss specific development ideas, but said New Brighton Landing will continue to take “interim steps not related to development,” including asking the state about creating a commuter rail station at Everett Street

A copy of state records shows New Brighton Landing filed to become an organization in mid-February with Davis as “manager” and is based at an address listed inside the Guest Street building where New Balance headquarters is housed.

NB Guest Street Associates, LLC owns that building, part of a complex dubbed Brighton Landing, but did not return calls seeking comment. State records show NB Guest Street Associates was formed in 2007 by, and remains under the control of, Davis and Paul R. Gauron, a Boston attorney at Goodwin Procter, a national law firm that has represented New Balance in the past.

Gauron declined to comment Tuesday.

Thirty-five years after buying the company, Davis stepped down as the New Balance's CEO in April 2007. Robert T. DeMartini took over for Davis and remains New Balance’s CEO.

In announcing Davis’ departure from the position, he was 63 at the time, the company said, “we feel that it is time to introduce younger and more progressive management.”

The Newton company involved in the 38-40 Guest St. transaction confirmed that the sale happened last Thursday, but declined to discuss details of the purchase or how the property plans to be used.

The 38-40 Guest St. property sold for $21,250,000. It is currently home to the vacant Barry Controls and Briggs New York warehouse buildings and parking lots.

The 180 Guest St. property sold for $5,350,000. It is adjacent to a Stop & Shop and is currently home to the Massachusetts Electric Construction Company Industrial headquarters. The national electric contractor, founded locally in 1928, divided into two districts in 2007. MEC Industrial is based in Brighton and MEC Transportation is headquartered in Irving, Texas. Company officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed inaccurate sale figures for 38-40 Guest Street, which also led to publication of an inaccurate combined sales total for both properties.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.

newbalance2.jpg

(Matt Rocheleau for Boston.com)

From the Market Street bridge that passes over the Massachusetts Turnpike, a view of the New Balance headquarters building (right with the "NB" logo) and the adjacent and successive property a group headed by the company's chairman purchased last week that continues down the roadway until it reaches a Stop & Shop.

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