ARLINGTON, MA - Wood Partners LLC announces the opening of Phase 1 of the 116-unit Alta Brigham Square community located in the heart of the city's vibrant downtown center. Phase 1, which consists of 36 apartments, has opened.
The development occupies the former site of the long-vacant Brigham's Ice Cream factory in a neighborhood that's become a destination for walkers and bicyclists.
Pre-leasing of the units has been under way, and Phase 2, consisting of 80 units, is on track to open in January 2013.
The four-story community at 30-50 Mill St. is a half a block from Massachusetts Avenue and Arlington Center, the city's bustling main street that includes town hall, the public library and an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops.
Downtown Boston is a 20-minute commute via nearby transit, and the popular Minuteman Bikeway is just steps from Alta Brigham Square.
"Transforming a blighted area into a beautiful amenity in this part of town has been exciting," said Rick Dickason, Wood Partner's regional director of development for New England. "It's gratifying to provide a luxury rental option not otherwise available in Arlington Center."
The development consists of 18 studios (598 square feet); 35 one bedroom units (719-915 square feet) and 63 two-bedroom units (1,013 to 1,178 square feet). Kitchens feature attractive, durable wood-look flooring, espresso wood cabinets and granite counters; bedrooms come with roomy walk-in closets; and baths feature oversized garden tubs with tile surrounds, wood-look flooring, espresso wood cabinets and cultured marble vanities.
Common areas include an expansive fitness center with a large area for active gaming; clubhouse with a media room, pool table lounge and cafe-style seating and a coffee bar; an exclusive outdoor area with built-in grills, seating and a fire pit; and a roof deck with views to the Minuteman Bikeway, Alta Brigham Square retail plaza, and long-range views of the Boston skyline.
The eco-friendly units, which exceed baseline energy-efficiency standards by 20 percent, will lease at $2.85 per square foot. Pursuant to Arlington bylaws, 15 percent of the units are reserved for families earning 60 percent or less of the area median income.
The 135,000-square-foot project incorporates approximately 3,500 square feet of ground-level retail space, reserved for small retail or medical offices. In addition to 84 surface parking spaces, 89 garage-level spaces will be available.
Wood Partners, the largest multifamily housing developer in the nation, bought the four-acre site for $5.6 million from Cambridge Savings Bank, which foreclosed on the property in August 2008, shortly after the ice cream factory stopped production when the Brigham's name and recipes were sold to a competitor. The obsolete 85,000-square-foot office and warehouse facility was demolished in the fall of 2011.
Dickason said the site's potential was obvious "because it is located in a well-established infill location in a very stable market with extremely high barriers to entry. It is nearly impossible to find available land of sufficient size to justify apartment development within walking distance to neighborhood amenities like Arlington Center," he said.
Brigham Square is the third acquisition by Wood Partners in the Boston area over the past 22 months, with its other projects in Stoughton and Melrose, Mass.
The community is adjacent to the popular Minuteman Bikeway, a former rail line converted to a pathway that area residents use for both recreation and commuting. It is one of the most heavily utilized rail trails in the country with about two million trips per year. The town of Arlington plows its section of the bikeway for year-round use.
Alta Brigham Square's retail plaza area is designed to interface with the bikeway, enabling bicyclists and walkers to pull off and enjoy seating and landscaping.
"It's an open, attractive common area that we are certain will be well-received by bikeway users," said Dickason.
Low vacancy rates, a diversified economy, and steady job growth fuelled by nearby Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- along with numerous biotech and high-tech companies linked to these institutions -- ensure robust demand for the apartments that Wood Partners expects to remain steady through virtually any market cycle, Dickason said.
Cushman & Wakefield's Capital Markets Group, including Simon Butler, Biria St. John, Michael Byrne and John McLaughlin, exclusively represented the seller, CSB Transaction LLC and procured the buyer W.P. East Acquisitions, LLC, an affiliate of Wood Partners of Atlanta, Ga.
The architect is Cube 3 Studio of Lawrence, Mass., and Callahan is the general contractor. Financing is provided by Cambridge Savings Bank.
Wood Partners is a national real estate company that acquires, develops, constructs and property manages high density and mixed-use communities. In 2011, it was ranked the nation's No. 1 multifamily developer with 3,750 unit starts.