June 2012

The Real Reporter – Joe Clements –

WALTHAM MA – At a point when all the talk seems to be “biotech this” and “technology that,” Greater Boston’s healthcare industry remains a steady performer in creating jobs and filling all manner of commercial space, an enduring role exemplified in two leases just completed by Stevens Group ITRA Global principal Deb Stevens. The larger transaction is a 10,000- sf expansion to Bay Colony Corporate Center from client Artisan Healthcare Consulting’s current home at 20 Mall Rd.

Debra Stevens

One thing made clear by all parties: Artisan is not moving over the next few weeks to escape the landlord, with Boston Properties owning both assets. ‘They have been a really great landlord,” Artisan CEO Bob Delise tells The Real Reporter this week. The firm’s founder says he is “delighted to stay within the Boston Properties’ portfolio.” The homegrown REIT that acquired Bay Colony last year for $185 million, was represented in-house by Jason Fivek and Matt Murray. The team, says Delise, was “a pleasure to work with and helped our rapidly expanding company find the perfect space for our needs.” Artisan will occupy a newly refurbished headquarters at 950 Winter St. that overlooks the Cambridge Reservoir.

In the other, separate transaction, Stevens advised Medical Capital Advisors in a 2,000-sf agreement at 104 Mount Auburn St. in Cambridge. The building is owned by Intercontinental Real Estate Corp. of Brighton. Besides providing afunctional layout for her client—a specialist in business matters for medical devices firms—the building is situated in the heart of Harvard Square, relays Stevens. “It is very cool,” she says of the laid-back environment outside 104 Mount Auburn St.

Stevens says the commonality of the two leases is they underscore that the healthcare industry’s impact extends beyond clinics, hospitals and research centers to a broader sphere of groups including consultants and firms offering new, more efficient technologies, with products and strategies aimed to enhance cost-cutting. Launched in 2009, Artisan has already outgrown its original home in Burlington, the chief reason tendered for relocating.

Along the way to 950 Winter St., there were plenty of options considered, but Delise says the sponsorship of Bay Colony was a “significant” factor in making that choice. Delise and Stevens both declined comment on terms, including length and price. Delise did express his gratitude for Stevens and the long-term deal that was finally deemed acceptable. “I could not recommend her more,” Delise says of the tenant representation specialist. “It is great to have partners who understand your needs and are committed to work with you to (meet) them no matter what .. . The process was run very well.”

A series of high-profile leases and increasing rents have some experts opining that Burlington has more cache as a so-called “Live, Work, Play” environment than Route 128’s perennial core community— i.e., Waltham—evidenced in preliminary mid-year reports showing lower vacancy rates and more deal velocity in Burlington than Waltham. Retaining and attracting talented young employees was a key goal in the space search, acknowledges Delise, but he insists both venues accomplish the feat of being amenity laden. Waltham has a plethora of restaurant choices, he notes, and the access along Route 128 is choice. But, he says, “it was more about the building than anything else.” One big asset touted as desirable for younger staff is an on-site fitness