The Real Reporter – Joe Clements

October 2010

CAMBRIDGE — Hard-charging Pellion Technologies, an MIT-bred launch focused on the emerging battery industry, has given a welcomed jolt to 625 Mount Auburn St., the longtime headquarters of Star Market now available as multi-tenanted office and research use. Owner KBS Real Estate Advisors has secured Pellion for nearly 10,000 sf in the 133,000-sf building that sits midway between Harvard and Watertown Squares.

Deb's Photo“It’s really nice,” says broker Debra Stevens of the asset’s repositioning, one that has already yielded results even prior to the Pellion pact. The Stevens Group principal counseled Pellion in a space search that mulled alternatives throughout Boston and Cambridge before KBS and listing agent CBRE/New England “wowed” the prospect with an offer at 625 Mount Auburn St. that met both physical and fiscal requirements. “They did a really great job of presenting the building,” says Stevens. CBRE principal Robert Fitzgerald and Associate Adam Brinch were brokers for the landlord.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to CBRE/NE’s third quarter survey released this week, asking rents are at $35.52 per sf for office space in the mid-Cambridge submarket, although 625 Mount Auburn St. is on the fringe of that 2.0-million-sf block that is centered in Harvard Square.

According to Stevens, however, the property makes up for that by being on a major corridor of MBTA buses that run constantly between Belmont and Watertown direct to Harvard Sq., itself a mere 20 minute walkaway. Bicycles are also expected to be utilized by Pellion staff, adds Stevens, with 625 Mount Auburn St. offering the on-site amenities needed to accommodate such occupants, including bike racks, locker rooms and shower facilities.

Now inked, the Pellion lease follows up on a strong third quarter for Cambridge, according to market watchers. Perhaps fueled by the brisk leasing at 625 Mount Auburn St., mid-Cambridge posted 46,000 sf in positive net absorption during the third quarter, CBRE/NE reports. That dipped the vacancy rate to a scant 6.5 percent, well below the 11.2 percent figure for Cambridge overall and the 11.1 million sf tracked by CBRE/NE.

Among notable tenants signed this summer by KBS were Mount Auburn Hospital and HDS Architects, plus a renewal with Charles River Associates that included an expansion to 30,000 sf on the top level of the three-story structure. According to Stevens, Pellion principals were encouraged by the diversity of the tenant roster and the sense of collaboration similar to that found at their prior home in the midst of the MIT campus a few miles east.

“There are some great things going on” at 625 Mount St., says Stevens. California based KBS acquired the building in Jan. 2007 for $29.6 million.