By Joe Clements

Boston, MA – In the highest-profile retail leasing assignment one could ever imagine landing, Faneuil Hall Marketplace steward Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. has named Boston Realty Advisors exclusive agent to help re-align the beloved Beantown shopping emporium which draws 18 million visitors annually. The 200,000-sf engagement led by BRA retail practice group principals Michael A. d’Hemecourt and Whitney E. Gallivan comes as their client launches an ambitious overhaul of the marketplace that dates to 1742, an endeavor first proposed three years ago in which Gotham-based Ashkenazy is making aesthetic and structural upgrades while improving tenant mix and addressing changing industry trends. The company in autumn 2011 took control of the three-building complex, its 360,000 sf of office and retail under a ground lease held by the Boston Planning & Development Agency.

BRA is consulting with architect Elkus Manfredi and other professionals who are putting the master-planned overhaul into motion, the contingent helping Ashkenazy finally implement a concept evolving real-time as the retail climate undergoes a dramatic upheaval that has many brick-and-mortar centers in shambles. BRA’s role at Faneuil Hall is so fresh and broad-brushed Gallivan says specifics are difficult to come by right now, but a few general ideas will include an emphasis on “celebrating what Boston and New England are all about” while simultaneously reeling in the “hip, cool new retailers” she and her client deem accretive to enticing new millennium consumers away from the computer and through their doors. Ashkenazy this winter signed Sephora to fill the site of a flower shop, a commitment BRA was not involved in but one Gallivan says generated momentum BRA intends to build upon with its campaign.

“We are extremely excited by this opportunity to help re-lease an iconic property that means so much to Boston and is recognized and enjoyed by so many people,” Whitney says in vowing the same BRA effort that went into a successful program at Boston Properties’ Prudential Center retail over the past two years and a new exclusive on Newbury Street for Jamestown Properties will be applied at Faneuil Hall by BRA’s entire team.

Other retail group members on the case include Christopher Donato and Sharaya Johnson, plus BRA has a new weapon in recent hire Alec Tarberry, he a W/S Development veteran. That is the same New England shopping center giant where Gallivan became a suburban leasing dynamo inking over 400 leases in a decade before joining BRA in January 2015. BRA’s founding principal, Jason S. Weissman, also has a specialty in retail, although Gallivan is taking the lead on the Faneuil Hall listing, something she declares “an honor” to be helping shape—and ensure—its future at a time she notes the city’s international allure has never been stronger, boding well for its landmarks and traditions.

“Faneuil Hall has a unique identity as the quintessential Boston destination, and we plan to keep the authenticity by bringing together local, regional and national brands that align with its storied history,” Gallivan relays regarding the 6.5-acre site where the Boston Tea Party was organized by Samuel Adams and his fellow revolutionaries.

While a different animal with divergent elements that need to assessed, and one in which BRA is entering the picture much earlier, Faneuil Hall does have similarities to what BRA was asked to do for Boston Properties at its 502,000-sf Shops at Prudential when leases on 50 percent of the space expired and the REIT targeted $10 million for an expansion and overhaul.

As detailed in the latest Real Reporter outlining BRA’s recent retail victories, Boston Properties retained Gallivan to advise on what trendy retailers made sense to pursue, plus where they and other tenants should be located in the mall that breaks off into different wings between Boylston Street and Huntington Avenue as well as the Copley Place Mall that connects through an enclosed pedestrian overpass.

The Prudential process also created about 15,000 sf of virgin space to accommodate three more retailers, units BRA also was hired to lease.

Besides helping relocate some Prudential tenants in a bid to streamline traffic flow and unite certain retail genres, thereby enhancing store revenues, Gallivan used her vast network as a retail ace to land Boston Properties tenants ranging from Tesla, Under Armour and Warby Parker to Dig Inn, Num Pang Kitchen and Shinola. Gallivan also delivered the Shops at Prudential one of the hottest food concepts in the country these days, Eataly, which last autumn opened in 44,000 sf adjacent to the connected Hynes Convention Center, taking over the entire Shops at Prudential food court there previously.

More recently, Gallivan and BRA were brought in by Jamestown Properties as an exclusive consultant for the Newbury Collection, a portfolio which consists of 28 mixed-use properties totaling over 220,000 sf of Back Bay street level concentrated on Newbury Street.

The name recognition of Faneuil Hall is on a congruent scale to internationally known Newbury Street and the thriving Prudential Center, but Gallivan acknowledges the new initiative carries its own special circumstances to consider and not just the eclectic mien of stores laid out in three unconnected buildings dating back 275 years. But while “it is like nothing else” physically she has encountered, Gallivan expresses confidence the application of sophisticated retail modeling formulas and recognition of transformational shopping concepts can be incorporated into Faneuil Hall and yield positive changes over the near term.

Gallivan also says she believes the outcomes at Prudential and retention by Jamestown may have contributed to Ashkenazy designating BRA for the plum Faneuil Hall exclusive which would have been eagerly accepted by virtually any rival, and metropolitan Boston has some of the best retail brokerage talent available, including several national powerhouses on the prowl.

. “It is a great property and I think (Ashkenazy) felt we would be a good fit for what they are looking to accomplish,” Gallivan speculates while praising Ashkenazy for going all-in committing a level of investment and revival the venerable marketplace has not seen since the 1970s when it became the centerpiece of Mayor Kevin White’s urban renewal program that developed the adjacent Government Center and Boston City Hall.

Tarberry will be participating on the Faneuil Hall endeavor, and she says his extensive background should come in handy filling space, her colleague having leased premium retail redevelopment projects across the country as part of the W/S Up Markets division.

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