0 Thank you Jeremy Leventhal of Faros Properties for joining the BRA Morning Zoom

Jeremy Leventhal, co-founder of Faros Properties and real estate scion joined us from the Hamptons.  He talked about how the private markets are temporarily frozen and that physical due diligence is near impossible.  The conversation extended into discussing multifamily assets, office consolidation, and cowork facilities.

Jeremy was born and raised in Newton, MA.  He said that given the abundance of higher learning and teaching hospitals in Boston, it is one city that is typically more resilient to downturns.  Mr. Leventhal shared a story about his grandfather, founder of Beacon Capital, repeatedly going to a city official in Washington DC to purchase a parcel of land.  He was denied countless times, yet kept coming back to have the same conversation.  After years of persistence, he was finally sold the land for Jeremy’s grandfather to proceed with his development plans.  Lesson learned – Be respectful and never give up.

Jeremy concluded with a book recommendation – MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman.

0 Tenants Returning to Boston Offices Will Find A Strange New World

By Dees Stribling | Bisnow | April 27, 2020

Most Boston commercial space is now empty, but the time is approaching when many or most workers return, perhaps in shifts or only a few days a week.

Property managers are already trying to sort out the transition, speakers on Bisnow’s health and safety in property management webinar Thursday said. The details of bringing people back into commercial space in an orderly and safe way aren’t clear. One thing is clear: It won’t be easy.

Most space in Downtown and in Cambridge is empty, with commercial occupancy below 5%, though occupancy is higher than that in a few pockets, such as life science space, Lincoln Property Co. Vice President of Property Management Scott Rickards said.

“We’re planning for re-occupancy at some point after May 4,” Rickards said. “Could be sooner, we hope. We’re fielding an increasing amount of questions every day from tenants about what they can expect.”

Personal responsibility is going to be critically important to making re-occupancy work, Rickards said.

“We all know people who go to work sick, and that’s what we really can’t have,” he said. “Every company has to be responsible for its employees, and every individual responsible for themselves.”

The focus now, EBI Consulting Director of Environmental Health & Safety Karla King said, is how company policies can evolve to address the future re-entry. Some companies have specific issues, such as those needing to deal with COVID-19 cases at their buildings, while others are simply trying to devise forward-looking planning.

“We’re working closely with some of our clients, evaluating current housekeeping and programs and getting an understanding of high-touch and common spaces,” King said.

In the case of a building with a suspected COVID-19 case, each instance is evaluated based on when it happened and how isolated the space is, King said. Then her company works with the client to identify or evaluate a cleaning company, looking closely at its cleaning products and protocols.

Even without a COVID-19 case, tenants who plan to return need to formulate detailed plans, King said.

“What PPE are people going to be bringing or wearing to the office, mandated by state or federal officials, or by their own choice?” she said. “Where are they going to dispose of their PPE?”

Boston Realty Advisors Managing Principal Wil Catlin, who moderated the webinar, asked whether some landlords will have stricter requirements regarding PPE than others.

“At some level, there needs to be baseline standards,” he said.

PPE use will vary according to the use of the space and how much common space there is, King said, adding that common areas and high-touch spaces are going to be the biggest areas of concern for property managers.

“That’s one thing to communicate to tenants: the importance of everyone controlling their space,” King said.

Property managers can’t be responsible for the cleanliness of every specific desk or other personal area, King said, since it is largely out of their control. Instead, they will be more concerned with common spaces, such as gyms, cafeterias, restrooms and reception areas.

Catlin also asked about security procedures in a post-pandemic environment, specifically how buildings will handle front desks and check-ins. Technology is a longer-term answer to security, Rickards said, and some Class-A buildings probably already have the tech in place to go touchless.

“There are some apps that work with security systems so that your phone has a unique identity, and you can walk into the building, and it knows your app,” Rickards said.

But most Boston real estate doesn’t have that kind of sophistication yet, he said. In many small lobbies, social distancing won’t even be possible.

“So there will be a lot of workarounds, and that’s going to extend the need for PPE,” Rickards said. “You’re going to need to have a mask on, and maybe gloves. Can we come up with a way to show an ID so that no one else touches it? It might be a rudimentary as the security guard doing all the writing. It’s going to be complicated.”

0 State of the Nonprofit World

One of the disproportionally impacted industries in Boston is the non-profit community.  From health services to education, advocacy and housing, furloughs and firings have skyrocketed, leaving only skeleton crews of management readying for a potential reopening with SBA loans and needed relaxation of distancing rules.  Not only are the providers affected, since they cannot deliver services traditionally, their respective constituencies are left to manage the best they can on their own in a tough economic environment.

Adding to the angst, spring is usually “fundraising season”, but with the inability to throw soirees, NPO’s small and large have been lamenting the loss of desperately needed funding.  Indeed, Northeast Arc’s Joann Simons recently noted the following about their capital raising:

“Due to current CDC social distancing recommendations we have made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 Evening of Changing Lives Gala. The gala was budgeted to raise a minimum of $600,000 this year and we are now anticipating at least another $150,000 of unexpected expenses in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

In the education sector, which includes daily daycare for children & seniors, consultants assisting Boston Public Schools in the classroom and special education providers, the closed schools and buildings have completely halted their services, critical to a large swath of Greater Boston.  One bright spot was noted by WDHD TV (https://whdh.com/news/how-one-ma-school-is-creatively-teaching-special-education-students-during-covid-19/).  Bedford, Massachusetts’ Nashoba Learning Group has taken a page from the university world and embraced daily video support & learning online, enabling parents and caregivers to participate in supporting their families and loved ones with intellectual disabilities in home.

What does the future hold?  Even before Covid 19, we noted a wave of closures and mergers in the education and health services, such as The Home for Little Wanders acquisition of Wediko School in 2019.  Sadly, we suspect that many of the smaller privately funded NPO’s will close for good in 2020, and hopefully those services will be picked up, where possible, by the corporate size providers like ABCD, Eliot Community Services and Morgan Memorial Good Will, to name a few.


Christopher McMahon is a Managing Director at Boston Realty Advisors and heads the Non-profit Practice Group, supporting the missions of a wide variety of Boston’s NPO community leaders and organizations.  Mr. McMahon is a +20 year veteran of the Greater Boston brokerage industry.  He can be reached at cmcmahon@bradvisors.com and 617-721-6437.

0 COVID-19’s Impact on the Hotel Industry

Industry leaders share the realistic and profound impact of COVID19 on the hospitality industry. The principle challenge is clear – containment practices including closed borders, travel restrictions and social distancing have left an abrupt and indefinite bearing on demand for hotels.

Owners are making difficult decisions and given the circumstances are forced to take proactive measures. A resounding echo on the hospitality industry, the COVID19 crisis is already of greater impact than 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2009 – combined. Unlike anything the industry has seen before, the detriment from COVID19 is incomparable even to hotels that bore witness to the Great Depression.

  • Hotels have lost $13 billion in room revenue since this started
  • 8 of 10 hotel rooms in the US are vacant
  • Hotel industry is on pace to lose 5.3 mm jobs

Thank you AHLA for providing insight to the challenges the Hospitality Industry is facing during this time. Listen to what Industry Leaders have to say HERE.

0 Boston Town Hall with Economist Michael Klein: Coronavirus, The Stimulus Package and Economic Forecast


The coronavirus has changed the way that properties are managed and secured. Many tenants don’t know what it will take to transition back into units or how to protect themselves once they’re back inside. Property managers have to reevaluate how to manage and operate properties now that there are new requirements for what it means to provide safe environments for tenants to live, work, play and transition into.

In response, leading property managers have altered daily practices, while also innovating management techniques to proactively protect tenants today and down the pipeline.

0 Thank you Ellen Yee for joining the BRA Morning Zoom

Thank you Ellen Yee from Boston Architectural College for joining the BRA Morning Zoom.  Key takeaways include.

– Ellen said that she was born and raised in Boston and can’t imagine living anywhere else – BOSTON STRONG.
– When it comes to managing an academic facility, she said that every day brings a new set of challenges – which keeps her on her toes.
– BAC established a COVID-19 Task Force that regularly meets to decide on how to best engage students and make decisions in the now and moving forward.
– Ms. Yee said that clear communication was key to their success over the last few weeks.
– Some of the academic transition to e-learning was simple. They are still trying to figure out how to virtually activate their Fabrication Lab.
– Ellen also revealed that they are trying to determine how to get McCormick Gallery online.

0 Thank you Ben Butcher, CEO of STAG Industrial for joining the BRA Morning Zoom

Thank you Ben Butcher, CEO of STAG Industrial for joining our Morning Zoom.

  • Mr. Butcher provided a quick overview of the STAG portfolio and shared that they focus on speed to market, optionality, and cashflow.  They are a big believer in “boots on the ground” and augment their asset management efforts by hiring local and best-in-class property managers, as well as local brokers to lease their assets in all 38-states.
  • He said that he’s extremely optimistic about the future of STAG, mentioning that they own assets equal to about 1.5% of their target market, and thus have a lot of room for growth.  He added that moving forward, they believe that finding secured loans will be difficult, this will limit the participation of small buyers from most deals.
  • STAG does not offer data storage nor cold storage.  Their portfolio mostly caters to single-tenant supply chain companies, like Amazon.  Mr. Butcher predicts a continued shortening and clogging of the supply chain as well as manufacturing coming back onshore – creating more of a need for logistical space generally.
  • He reminded the attentive audience that in order to consider a facility for last-mile fulfillment, the building has to have the ability to receive the product from 18-wheel trucks.
  • Ben stressed the importance of engaging employees via social causes and charitable organizations – a valuable part of developing the corporate culture.

Book Recommendation – The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics