Red Sox Hall Of Famer Buys Hingham Luxury Condo

Legendary Sox catcher and former team captain Jason Varitek and his wife, Catherine Varitek, closed on an $1.8 million home in Hingham’s Residences at Black Rock earlier this month.

Varitek played two summers with the Hyannis Mets in the Cape Cod League, then spent his entire major league career (1997-2011) with the Boston Red Sox wearing the number 33. The three-time All-Star helped the Sox bring home two world championships and has played in more post-season games than any other Red Sox player in history.
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The 138 residences at Black Rock overlook the fairways of the Black Rock Country Club. Residences have access to the club’s swimming pools, fitness rooms, luxury clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. While the interiors of residences are personalized, the exteriors feature cedar shingles, mahogany decks and brick walkways.

Varitek is currently an assistant to Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox’s president of baseball operations.

If you’re buying or selling you’ll get hall of fame worthy representation from Fitzgerald Law Offices. Call us today. 781-924-5326.

Local Businesses And Selectmen Rally For Hanover Mall Redevelopment

FROM BANKER & TRADESMAN

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Numerous local businesses and two chambers of commerce have gone on record in favor of a June 19 Hanover Special Town Meeting article that, if approved by voters, would grant the Hanover Mall a tax increment financing (TIF), allowing the new owners of the mall to redevelop and revitalize the 46-year-old shopping center.

Generally, a TIF allows municipalities to divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined district – or in this case, a property – toward an economic development project.
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Since PECO Real Estate Partners (PREP), the new owners of the Hanover Mall, and its Hanover-based management team began meeting with local officials and community members to discuss the TIF proposal, several businesses and organizations have gone public in their endorsement. The Hanover selectmen voted unanimously in support of the TIF on May 24, as has the planning board, at a meeting on June 6. PREP contends the TIF is necessary to complete the redevelopment plan for the mall to become “Hanover Crossing,” the proposed name for the redeveloped property.

Both the Hanover and South Shore chambers of commerce have endorsed the proposal and encouraged voters to support it. Hanover Chamber President Patrick Kelleher said in a statement that he is excited “about the economic boost the new mall will give to our community.”

Under the terms of the proposed TIF, PREP will commit to investing a minimum of $40 million in redeveloping the mall – which is the town’s single largest taxpayer – while maintaining the level of property tax payments annually based on its purchase price.

PREP has agreed to pay real estate taxes based on its purchase price of nearly $40 million, prior to and during the construction period. In recent years, its assessed valuation has declined. The TIF agreement would stop that slide while allowing the owners the time to invest in improvements and attract new tenants.

The redevelopment will provide an estimated 700 full-time, part-time and construction jobs; under the agreement, PREP is required to use best efforts to hire Hanover residents.

“We look at this article as a ‘win-win,’ since it will move the Hanover Mall revitalization forward, as well as provide the community a stable tax payment over the next 15 years,” Hanover Mall General Manager Ed Callahan said in a statement.

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Fed Rate Hike Unlikely To Move Mass. Market

FROM BANKER & TRADESMAN

The Fed’s decision yesterday to inch the federal funds rate upward signaled its cautious confidence in the U.S. economy, but it ruffled few feathers in the Massachusetts real estate market.

In remarks to reporters following the Fed’s announcement that it would raise the federal funds rate to between 0.75 percent and 1 percent, Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen said the decision “does not represent a reassessment of the economic outlook” and signaled that the Fed would most likely pursue gradual increases to the federal funds rate.

for sale“Today’s decision also reflects our view that waiting too long to scale back some accommodation could potentially require us to raise rates rapidly somewhere down the road, which in turn could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession,” she said.

The stock market reacted to the Fed’s announcement with enthusiasm, though bankers were a bit more tempered in their reactions.

“The recovery seems to have gained some tailwind and we’re seeing growth start to accelerate globally and inflation pressures in the U.S. economy and abroad, so it is not surprising that the Fed followed through on their broadly signaled rate increase at this month’s meeting,” Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank, said in a statement. “What remains to be seen is whether we see consistent economic progress this year and how many additional rate increases will result.”

Several banks, including Citizens, Citibank, BB&T and M&T Bank, raised their prime lending rates from 3.75 percent to 4 percent.

The Massachusetts real estate market is unlikely to feel much impact from the rate increase. It is, after all, just 25 basis points and in the grand scheme of things, rates are still around historic lows. And local lenders, many of whom have seen the longest refinance boom of their careers, have been shifting their focus to the purchase market for some time. Rates weren’t going to stay this low forever.

Chip Poli, founder and president of Poli Mortgage in Canton, wasn’t especially surprised by the Fed’s decision. Where his own business is concerned, Poli said he’s seen some potential buyers moving a little bit faster in anticipation of future rate hikes, and he even had a few customers trying to lock in rates ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. This week’s rate increase means that some buyers will have a little bit less purchasing power than they might have a year ago, but he doesn’t see this latest increase shaking many buyers out of the market.

“I think we’re in good shape right now. I don’t know what the next two will do, but I do believe Boston and Massachusetts in general are really strong markets,” he said. “People just need to digest that and be educated about it.”

A Blizzard in March?!?! Move to Jimmy Buffet’s Latitude Margaritaville

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Jimmy Buffett’s always been quite the entrepreneur, and now he’s getting into the business of senior housing. His Margaritaville lifestyle brand, which includes Buffett-inspired hotels, casinos, and restaurants, is about to open a chain of retirement communities.

The first one will be located in Daytona Beach, Fla., and more locations are expected to be announced soon.

Latitude Margaritaville is being marketed as senior living “for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up.’’ It will essentially be a walkable neighborhood for older adults with a “no worries, tropical vibe’’ and will feature exercise facilities, an indoor lap pool, a band shell for live performances, and indoor and outdoor dining areas where Parrotheads can kick back and enjoy Margaritaville-branded food and drinks. According to the Latitude Margaritaville website, the sales center at Daytona Beach is scheduled to open this fall, and model homes should be ready early next year. You can sign up for more information here: www.latitudemargaritaville.com.

Enjoy the snow!

City Increases Parking Space Requirements in Southie

From today’s Boston Globe….

South Boston rarely takes kindly to change, no matter how well-intentioned. Think about the short-lived wine bar off Perkins Square, or the fleeting attempt to adopt one-way streets.

But City Hall recently adopted a major change that even hidebound residents might embrace: new zoning regulations that will affect virtually the entire neighborhood, from the yuppies on A Street to the senior citizens in City Point.

The rules are an attempt to restore order to a booming neighborhood that can feel like a giant construction site and a sense of fairness to a development and permitting process often shaped by influence and special exemptions.

Proponents hope the code changes, which took effect last month, will bring a steep decline in variances granted by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and in the community meetings, politically connected consultants, and development lawyers that usually come with them.
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Sharply curbing variances, which are exceptions to the zoning code, would also eliminate a bureaucratic bottleneck in the permitting process that, as the Globe has reported, can be exploited by developers, civic associations, neighbors, and organized labor.

“All of that will be diminished,’’ said City Councilor Bill Linehan, who helped spearhead the two-year reform effort, which included a dozen community meetings. “It will be a much more even playing field for all neighbors and all residents. . . . The amount of time and energy that government and the community had to spend regulating property development was absurd.’’
The new rules are not without controversy. Developers will now be required to build two-thirds more off-street parking than before, a mandate that runs counter to a prevailing urban planning model to reduce cars in favor of cycling and public transit.

“They should be reducing these parking minimums,’’ said Brendan Kearney, communications manager for the pedestrian advocacy group WalkBoston. “The city of Buffalo just removed parking requirements entirely. You don’t think of Buffalo as a paragon of forward urban thinking, but if Buffalo can do it, why not Boston?’’

The new parking requirements will also increase building costs, making some projects prohibitively expensive. That could slowthe pace of construction in what has been the hottest neighborhood in Boston’s building boom.

“I’ve been told by developers that it will slow down the development in South Boston, which is probably a good thing because we are getting oversaturated,’’ said Joanne McDevitt, president of the City Point Neighborhood Association. “But I don’t think it’s going to solve the problem of parking.’’

For the regulations to have an effect, they must be strictly enforced, meaning the Zoning Board of Appeals will have to issue far fewer variances. “That is the question,’’ said Donna Brown, executive director of the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corp., an affordable housing nonprofit. “Will the ZBA decline requests for variances? Will the [Boston Planning & Development Agency] recommend against requests for variances when people apply?’’

Mayor Martin J. Walsh indicated that City Hall will take a hard line to enforce the new zoning. In a statement, Walsh’s office said it was “unlikely to speak in support of requests for variances before the Zoning Board of Appeals in order to allow the zoning to mature and have the intended impact on the neighborhood.’’

By slowing development, the new zoning bylaws could also create more affordable housing, supporters say.
Many senior citizens and other longtime residents have been pushed out of their homes in recent years as developers buy three-story apartment houses to convert them into luxury condominiums.

Because of soaring real estate prices, the development corporation has not been able to buy a building since 2011, Brown said.
“If the parking requirement results in a softening of the triple-decker market, that would make it easier for us as a nonprofit to purchase a building and keep it as anaffordable or moderate priced rental,’’ Brown said. “We want to keep people in their housing.’’

Kvetching about parking is a popular pastime in South Boston. An influx of new residents, many of them young professionals, has increased the number of cars competing for on-street spots, and longtime residents have been clamoring for a fix.

Under the new zoning rules, each new unit must come with 1.5 parking spots, up from 0.9 spaces. Because parking requirements are always rounded up, a new building with three two-bedroom apartments must include five parking spots. (Studio and one-bedroom units need only one space.)

Like all zoning rules, there are caveats. The requirements only apply to new construction or projects that involve a major change, such as adding a unit. The rules do not apply to standard renovations.

The regulations also allow a new maximum height of 40 feet for much of the neighborhood, compared with 35 to 50 feet under the old system.

Officials at the Boston Planning & Development Agency, which reviews larger projects, said the new regulations will help preserve the neighborhood’s character while accommodating new growth.

The agency’s community affairs liaison, Mark McGonagle, said the changes seek to shape the neighborhood’s future on a broad scale to “get away from what many in the community termed parcel by parcel development.’’

The rezoning joins another effort in South Boston that designates the Dorchester Avenue corridor as a transit-oriented growth zone. That process, although not finalized, could result in reduced parking requirements for developments near subway stations and buildings as tall as 300 feet in certain locations.

The overall goal is simple.

“The rezoning of South Boston is designed to restore predictability to the process so that the rules are understood and fairly applied to all,’’ said City Councilor Michael F. Flaherty of South Boston, who pushed for the new regulations. “Our hope is to eliminate the need for variances, the guessing game, and the hocus pocus that plays out at the Zoning Board of Appeals.’’

Looking for a Property Portfolio?

From todays’ Boston Globe……

One of Boston’s old-school landlords says he’s cashing in his chips. Again.

James Batmasian, a South Florida real estate mogul who launched his empire in 1970 by purchasing a Cambridge three-decker, ¬recently put his 33 Boston-area buildings up for sale. They house 444 apartments, in properties ranging from two-families in Watertown to a shuttered motel in Revere to an elegant 75-unit building on the Riverway in ¬Mission Hill.

It can all be yours, for $166 million.

This sort of move — putting an entire portfolio of properties on the market at once — is rare in Boston, where real estate empires are amassed over generations and usually remain in the same hands.
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Batmasian’s decision to sell could be a sign of the market nearing its peak, a chance for him to cash out at top dollar. Some rivals suspect he might just be fishing for a buyer at a too-high price, but happy to keep holding if no one bites. As for Batmasian himself, he says it’s simple: He left town decades ago and is finally ready to close the book on Boston.

“I’m approaching 70,’’ he said. “I started in Boston when I was 21, and I’d like not to wait until I’m in a wheelchair to cash out.’’

Batmasian, who has lived in Boca Raton, Fla., since 1983, said he gets to Boston for only a few days a year and wants to focus on a charitable foundation he recently started.

Before he was one of the biggest real estate owners in the ritzy Florida city, Batmasian was a lawyer in Boston, having graduated from Harvard Law School. In the 1970s and ‘80s, he and his wife, Marta, began accumulating rental properties in Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville. Their firm, Investments Limited, still manages them from a small storefront on Massachusetts Avenue in North Cambridge.

After leaving Boston, Batmasian became one of the most colorful characters on South Florida’s real estate scene. Using the same buy-and-hold strategies he honed here, he accumulated a property empire worth more than $1 billion. He also earned a felony conviction in 2008 for tax evasion and served a brief stint in federal prison. He weathered the most recent real estate crash, as well as sexual harassment lawsuits by former employees. All the while, Batmasian has been collecting rent checks from a few dozen small buildings around Greater Boston.

Now, though, Batmasian is fully focused fully on Florida, he said, and too old to have to worry about his scattered portfolio far to the north.

But some would-be buyers who have dealt with Batmasian aren’t convinced he’s really exiting the Boston market.

They say that several times over the past few decades Batmasian has listed his holdings for sale and has gone relatively far down the road in negotiations before pulling out of deals.
It’s just his way of testing the market, said Carl Valeri, president of Hamilton Co., one of Boston’s largest privately owned landlords.

“I’ve just seen this story so many times,’’ Valeri said. “He’s probably done this five times in the last 25 years. I wouldn’t expect a sale to go off, in the end.’’

Robert Eisen, a spokesman for Batmasian, acknowledged the portfolio has been up for sale before, and that there have been negotiations with suitors. But, he said, no prospective buyer ever agreed to Batmasian’s asking price. This time, Eisen said in an e-mail to the Globe, his client is “very serious’’ about selling.

Either way, he’s likely to receive healthy offers, said Travis D’Amato, a broker in Boston for the real estate firm JLL who specializes in apartment building sales. Rents are surging on lower-priced apartments, he said, especially for in-demand markets such as Cambridge and Somerville. Some of Batmasian’s smaller buildings could be converted to condominiums and sold. Larger buildings might be spruced up to capture higher rents. There’s a lot of demand from big investors who want a piece of Boston’s housing market.

“I think he’d do very well,’’ D’Amato said. “Guys like him don’t sell in a bad market.’’

Indeed, Batmasian notes, there’s nothing happening in the market that’s pushing him to sell. It’s just that the timing is right for him, he said. The timing may also be right for buyers. Batmasian said he received 40 calls in the first three days after putting his holdings up for sale.

Attorney General Levels the Playing Field in Nantucket

The Massachusetts Attorney General has made a bold step toward helping consumers by forging an agreement with the Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers Inc. that effectively opens up the pool of prospective agents.
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Prior to Nov. 14, the association and its Multiple Listing Service made it nearly impossible for off-island realtors to list homes there. Requirements for membership pretty much excluded off-island agents from the market unless they had a physical office there, were involved in the community, and paid a $5,000 membership fee. The state alleged the restrained competition violated Massachusetts consumer protection and antitrust laws.

“Competition is important to our markets and helps to ensure better results for consumers,’’ Attorney General Maura Healy said. “Organizations should not use membership rules or requirements to limit competitors where there is no basis to do so.’’

The November agreement between Healy’s office and the Nantucket association opened membership to off-island brokers and reduced the initiation fee from $5,000 to $500. The agreement also eliminated the requirement that brokers be actively involved in the community.

What does the agreement mean to the home buyer or seller? Without access to their listing service, nonmember agents were virtually boxed out of the competition, limiting consumer choices on who should represent them. It’s not to say that island brokers haven’t been providing quality services to their clients, but people on Nantucket are going to be better served by having the ability to choose from a wider pool of agents based on track record, experience, knowledge, and fees.

As it stands, of the 24 sales on the island this year, six were by off-island brokers. That’s a quarter of the real estate transactions in 11 months. It’s evident that island residents have been trying to expand their options to find other agents to work with beyond Nantucket. This appears to be demonstrative of the evolving world of real estate. Technology has expanded regional limitations on the state and national level, and now we’re seeing it on Nantucket.

The world of real estate continually evolves hand in hand with technological advancements. Years ago, for example, there were more than 15 Multiple Listing Services in Massachusetts. Now the largest, Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service, covers all of the state, but there are some areas such as Cape Cod where other MLS systems are used in addition to the state one. This evolution to centralizing listing services enables realtors to sell property effectively anywhere. A more holistic system is changing the game for real estate, and there is no reason that agents should be prevented from working anywhere in the state in which they’re licensed. Homes are sold online. As long as you price a home correctly — which isn’t hard because you can pull comparable sales figures off MLS — you can sell it. I could sell a home here in Watertown as well as I can sell one in Holden.

Real estate transactions are one of the largest financial decisions people make, and now island residents are better able to choose the agent they feel comfortable having manage this sometimes overwhelming experience.

New Owner Plans ‘Reinvention’ Of Hanover Mall

Park City, Utah-based PECO Real Estate Partners has acquired the 732,101-square-foot Hanover Mall from CW Capital.

The purchase price was $39.5 million, according to Plymouth County Registry of Deeds filings. Newmark Grubb Knight Frank represented the seller.

Special servicer CW Capital of Needham acquired the property at a 2010 foreclosure auction after submitting the only bid of $36.7 million. The previous owner, Walton Street Capital, paid $99.4 million for the property in 2007.
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The outstanding balance of $76.7 million had been the largest delinquent loan of any commercial property in Greater Boston, according to real estate loan researchers Trepp. Underwritten by J.P. Morgan Chase, the loan was resolved this month with a $62.3 million recorded loss, according to Trepp.

Without giving details, the new owners said they plan a “comprehensive strategy that will reinvent” the mall. Hanover Mall will join PECO’s PREP Strategic Investments portfolio.

“Hanover Mall represents an ideal opportunity for PREP to apply our expertise and revitalize this well-known property to its full potential,” Roy Williams, PREP chief investment officer, said in a statement.

PECO is currently redeveloping the mixed-use Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati and transforming the former Parmatown Mall in Ohio into a mixed-use complex called The Shoppes at Parma.

Anchored by Macy’s, Sears and Walmart, the Hanover Mall was completed in 1971 and renovated in 2004.

Unique Brookline Estate Hits Market At $90M

Woodland Manor, a one-of-a-kind Brookline estate built by Reebok founder Paul Fireman and his wife, Phyllis, is available for sale for $90 million.

Sited on a parcel surrounded by the Brookline Country Club and Putterham Meadows Golf Course five miles from central Boston, the Firemans assembled approximately 14 acres of scrub and ledge into a single property and transformed it into a tapestry of rolling lawns, ponds, sculpted rock outcrops and a horticultural encyclopedia of specimen plantings.

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“This is an unprecedented opportunity to own 14 acres in a private location in one of the most sought-after areas just minutes from downtown Boston,” listing agent Deborah Gordon, of Coldwell Banker, said in a statement. “It is a one-of-a-kind property that has been masterfully crafted with the finest materials and finishes. Every inch of this home has been thoughtfully designed and constructed. The property offers ultimate privacy with city accessibility.”

The winding driveway, a third of a mile long, leads to a home offering more than 26,000 square feet of living space and features in excess of 5,000 square feet of Deer Island granite terraces with garden views.

Millennium Tower Boston Dominates High-End Sales

The second full week of July was huge for the 60-story Millenium Tower Boston. Nearly three years after breaking ground at the site of the former Filene’s in Downtown Crossing, the first wave of units closed at the Boston’s tallest residential building.

Of the 185 properties that closed for $1 million or more in Massachusetts that week, 44 of them were at the Millennium. All but six closed on Monday, July 14 and the remaining units closed the following day. The units sold for between $1,005,000 and $8,700,000 and only four owners took out mortgages, according to data compiled by The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman.

The average sale price of those units was $3,610,988.64.
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The unit everyone is waiting to hear about is the 13,000-square foot-penthouse unit purchased by Irish billionaire John Grayken, according to various news reports. It is rumored to have sold in the $37 million range.