CAMBRIDGE—In title town, “trophy” is a word often bandied about, most certainly with valid reasons in Hub sporting circles, and for metro Boston’s white-hot multifamily arena, the term is also ubiquitous though at times proponents have been known to stretch the definition just a bit.
Not so in the case of 922 Massachusetts Ave., Boston Realty Advisors principal Jason Weissman insists regarding a four-story, 31-unit apartment building being made available to investors this week through his firm. “I know people use that a lot, but this is a real trophy property in every measurable standard that exists,” Weissman tells Real Reporter in acknowledging the exclusive being rolled out today, the building last changing hands in May 1984. “It is an exceptional, once-in-a-generation opportunity and we think the reaction is going to be incredibly strong . . . We are preparing ourselves for many tours on this one.”
BRA is not even hazarding a guess on how far the fervor may drive the outcome financially, with Weissman when asked saying only, “It will go for whatever the highest bidder pays.” Informational materials tout the apartments being 100 percent market rate as one distinguishing aspect, and highlight The Emerson—as it is known—for being right in between two of the world’s most powerful academic groups who happen to be in a pitched arms race leading to billions of dollars in new development.
Tenants and investors alike are mindful of transit access, and The Emerson is a mere 1,500 feet from the Central Square Red Line stop sandwiched between the Harvard and Kendall Square stops, home bases for Harvard University and MIT respectively. Harvard Yard is a mortarboard’s toss westward and the heart of Harvard and Central Squares are also easily in walking distance.
Amenities found in both teeming business districts are innumerable, and one selling point—or pint, as it were—locals would recognize is the building’s immediate neighbor, the famous Plough & Stars Irish pub in operation since 1969 as a destination entertainment venue. BRA does not name names or give any plugs, but cites “some of the best restaurants in New England plus boutiques and markets” lining Massachusetts Avenue in either direction, while the Charles River parkland is also a quick stroll. “With access to public transit, the deep employer base that makes up the area, and the wealth of amenities, residents of The Emerson benefit from all Cambridge has to offer,” BRA proclaims.
The Emerson is a 21,000-sf building constructed in 1915 on a 4,800-sf parcel at the corner of Hancock Street. The unit mix is 87 percent one-bedroom apartments (27 units) with a trio of studios and a singular two-bedroom apartment. There is on-site storage and laundry facilities for tenants.
Industry insiders familiar with the neighborhood spoken to by Real Reporter say being 100 percent market-rate coupled with the “ground zero location” could push per-key metrics towards $450,000. “That ballpark” one source agrees of a building Weissman calls “impeccably maintained” by the client, a private family trust using the entity 925 Mass LLC having held the building since paying $425,000 35 years ago this spring.
Weissman, who oversees BRA’s Capital Markets platform, is being joined on the exclusive by partner Nicholas M. Herz, who will offer debt and structured finance expertise, plus Associate Director Kevin Benzinger and Associates Andrew Neal and Tim Peterson. Dominique Dubois is the team’s analyst.
BRA this decade has orchestrated a number of meaningful residential transactions, among them the $47 million sale of Green District Apartments in Allston for Mount Vernon Co.; marketing of the Unitarian Universalist’s Beacon Hill campus to a residential developer; and Dr. Gerald Chan’s purchase of Harvard Square apartments in a mixed-use building secured at the start of the investor’s well-documented buying spree in metropolitan Boston.
Weissman declined to offer comparisons to prior exclusives, but is unabashed in heaping praise on The Emerson and promising the victorious party a measure of upside through a capital improvements program and riding the upward trend for apartments in the urban core. “We are absolutely delighted representing our client on this wonderful property finally coming available for the first time in decades,” he says, one promising “a stable investment” and “long-term growth” potential.