By Joe Clements

BOSTON – The unique hybrid of apartments and hotel rooms comprising 40 Berkeley St. is being put on the market for sale by Mount Vernon Co. through Boston Realty Advisors, officials of the homegrown brokerage company have confirmed, with the campaign commencing this week. “It’s just hitting the street,” BRA founding principal Jason S. Weissman tells Real Reporter regarding an asset Mount Vernon Co. acquired in spring 2014 for $17.2 million.

Weissman would not discuss pricing targets for the seven-story, 73,125-sf structure that has 40 permanent apartments and 168 hotel rooms, the latter element described in one account as an “entry level” operation, with a goal of “offering travelers sociable accommodations.” Millennials are a key source of business.

One industry expert familiar with the building predicts bidding could extend into the low- and even middle-$30 millions. Were it to hit $35 million, that would be double the amount Mount Vernon paid for the asset, which was originally constructed to house members of the YWCA, a function that placed it in an area within walking distance to public transportation and a wide range of amenities in the South End where it is located and the abutting Back Bay.

“Rarely is an offering of irreplaceable hotel density in an ultra-high barrier-to-entry market available to investors,” Weissman observes, further calling the listing “an exceptional opportunity to acquire and rebrand an extraordinarily well-located property in one of the strongest urban lodging markets in the United States.”

Value-add elements present include making cosmetic upgrades and the possibility of adding over 7,500-sf of retail that could be expanded into an outdoor courtyard. “We expect it is going to be very well-received,” says Weissman, who has assembled a deep team of BRA professionals to assist in the process. Among them is Senior Partner and retail ace Michael A. d’Hemecourt; structured finance practice leader Nicholas M. Herz and another senior member in Whitney A. Gallivan. Associate Director Christopher J. Donato and Associate Kevin Benzinger are also on the case.

The South End may be considered a mature neighborhood, but BRA notes in marketing 40 Berkeley St. that there has been a wave of transformational projects delivering mixed-use attractions this decade, and now has luxury housing with 1,500 Class A residential units and 650,000 sf of commercial space planned in a five-block radius of 40 Berkeley St., which is perched at the junction of Appleton St. Put that together with Boston’s hotel and apartment sectors and BRA declares that “comparable product in the South End does yo exist.” Weissman and crew are certainly familiar with the asset, having brought Mount Vernon Co. the opportunity as agents for the prior ownership four years ago.

Percelay told Real Reporter at the time that he was attracted by the cash-flowing nature of 40 Berkeley St. plus the basis paid for entry and the aforementioned activity in the South End. Mount Vernon Co. is primarily a multifamily investor but does have a history in the hospitality industry. The firm has been one of metropolitan Boston’s most active buyers this decade best known for its Green District venture in the city’s Allston neighborhood yielding hundreds of sustainability oriented apartments. The firm later harvested a portion of that for $147 million in another BRA-listed assignment.

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