Congratulations to The Carrol Center on their very successful Virtual 8th Annual Walk For Independence, raising $130,000 through the hard work and thoughtful commitment of many people.  Everyone at Boston Realty Advisors is humbled to have had the opportunity to support the Center this year!


ESTABLISHED IN 1936, the renowned Carroll Center for the Blind has been serving those with vision impairment for over eight decades; the organization is known nationally as a premier Vision Rehabilitation Center. Located just outside of Boston on a sprawling campus in Newton, Massachusetts, they proudly serve ALL ages and ALL stages of vision loss.

With the ongoing promise of improving the lives of people with vision-related problems, The Carroll Center for the Blind has pioneered many innovative services allowing people who are blind or have low vision to learn the skills to be independent in their homes, in class settings, and in their work places. Their services include vision rehabilitation, vocational and transition programs, assistive technology training, educational support, and recreation opportunities for individuals who are visually impaired of all ages. For over 80 years, the expertise of Carroll Center staff has provided help for thousands of blind and visually impaired persons with diverse opportunities for success and independent living.

0 Modular Construction Acolytes Think A Rebrand Is In Order

By Dees Stribling | Bisnow | June 30, 2020

New materials and digital technology are making modular construction a more efficient construction option than before, but there are still obstacles to its growth and acceptance. One of those is the term “modular” itself. The construction method needs a rebrand, experts say, to ditch some old and incorrect connotations.

“With the term modular, there are preconceptions of a double-wide going down a highway: less than attractive, subpar housing,” CON Architecture Practice + Design Team Leader Kendra Halliwell said on Bisnow’s Modular Housing for the Future webinar last week. “We’d like to get away from that with a rebranding. Perhaps saying ‘off-site’ or ‘volumetric construction.’ Anything that can be built in a factory counts as off-site.”

Moreover, “modular” barely does justice to how sophisticated the process can be, she said. In off-site construction, new digital tech is being applied to different facets, such as the design of the off-site components — the modules, the logistics of their delivery to the site, and the coordination of putting them together on site.

The acceptance of modular construction in the United States is still sluggish, even as it has been accepted in other parts of the world, such as Japan and Scandinavia. But with construction labor in short supply and the need for housing at all-time highs in Boston, the time and cost efficiencies offered by digitally enhanced modular construction, or whatever it could be called in the future, would help overcome those problems.

Modular construction can reduce construction costs as much as 20% and project time as much as 50%, compared to standard construction methods, according to a 2019 McKinsey & Co. report, “Modular Construction: From Projects to Products,” which also serves as a guide to the role that modular can play in the future of construction.

The technique has caught on in other parts of the world, but a misperception of low quality still lingers around modular — falsely, the report says.

“The construction industry as we know it now hasn’t changed in hundreds of years,” Halliwell said. “It’s incredibly inefficient. Off-site construction is a way to build more efficiently. We could take care of this housing shortage if we could disrupt this industry, and change the way we work and the way we build.”

The other speakers joining Halliwell on the Boston-centric webinar cautioned that off-site construction isn’t a panacea for the ills plaguing construction in Boston or many other American cities, but rather a useful tool to improve the industry.

“Off-site construction is not necessarily a silver bullet for costs, schedules or supply considerations,” Berkeley Investments Development Project Manager Paul Goodwin said. “Still, it’s something that has a lot of promise to address a lot of different issues.”

Building components in a factory instead of on an open-air construction site helps control costs and schedules and can make a more sustainable and consistent product, he said.

“Can it do all of those things for all projects?” Goodwin said. “No. It needs to be assessed on its merits on a project-by-project basis.”

With off-site construction, the opportunity exists to apply the principles of mass production to the Boston housing industry, GreenStaxx Director Hans Hawrysz said. The key principles for going forward with the technique are standardized design, integrated production, replication and continuous improvement.

“Buildings are no longer constructed on-site,” he said. “More and more, they are assembled. The more you do it, the better you get, and the more productive you get. It reduces cost and increases profitability.”

The quality of off-site manufacturing of construction components is also better than that of traditional construction, Hawrysz said. Quality control and inspections are much easier, and the process is also more sustainable.

The off-site process is suitable for more than just low-rise properties, Goodwin said. High-rise structures built using the process exist, made of both steel and wood. The tallest modular building in the country was built in Brooklyn by Forest City, before it was acquired by Brookfield. The tallest in the world, two 40-story apartment buildings in Singapore, opened last year.

“We’re looking at a project now that’s a steel-and-concrete high-rise,” Halliwell said. “Each project is a little different.”

The process also needs an integrated team to make it effective, Hawrysz said. Since it involves a manufacturing process, the construction team needs a lot more coordination upfront.

“That also eliminates some of the rework down the road,” he said. “Much of rework is caused by imprecise documentation, so everybody needs to get together upfront.”

As many possible advantages as off-site represent, there are also challenges beyond the connotations of calling it modular, the speakers said. From the perspective of an owner, for example, there is some risk of having to rework an off-site component, Goodwin said.

“If you aren’t confident that things are designed and constructed the way that they are intended to be, then on-site rework is a real risk — and more laborious and later in the process,” he said.

Another challenge for the off-site process is while it can be much more efficient in the time it takes to build, getting access to the manufactured materials in a timely way isn’t always a given, Hawrysz said. That is especially a consideration in New England, where building material supply is constrained compared to other parts of the country.

0 Microsoft stores in Mass. to permanently close

Microsoft is stepping out of the retail game with plans to close its stores.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) lists a total of 72 stores in the United States, with three mall locations in Massachusetts: Boston’s Prudential Center, the Burlington Mall and the Natick Mall.

By Drew Hanson | Boston Business Journal | June 26, 2020

Microsoft Corp. is closing its physical retail stores around the world.

The Redmond, Washington, technology company said Friday it would permanently close all of its stores, with the exception of locations in New York City, London, Sydney and its hometown. Those stores will be reconfigured as “experience centers.”

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) lists a total of 72 stores in the United States, with three mall locations in Massachusetts: Boston’s Prudential Center, the Burlington Mall and the Natick Mall.

The company had not reopened any of its Microsoft Store locations since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March. Retail employees will move into roles serving private consumers, small businesses, education and enterprise customers, according to Microsoft’s announcement. They will work remotely or out of corporate facilities.

With the closure of the stores, Microsoft said there would be a renewed focus on online sales.

“We deliberately built teams with unique backgrounds and skills that could serve customers from anywhere. The evolution of our workforce ensured we could continue to serve customers of all sizes when they needed us most, working remotely these last months,” Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter said in a statement. “Speaking over 120 languages, their diversity reflects the many communities we serve. Our commitment to growing and developing careers from this talent pool is stronger than ever.”

The permanent closures will result in a pretax charge of about $450 million, according to Microsoft. It will be recorded in the current quarter, which ends June 30.

0 The Future of Office Amidst Covid-19


Wil Catlin was a panelist on a recent  webinar discussing the future of office amidst COVID19 from both asset management and acquisition standpoints.

Key topics include:

  • Flex-space and Space-As-A-Service feel highly relevant, yet how can they survive new health requirements?
  • Will tenants downsize and relocate to minimize costs? Or will they create grand offices that are branding exercises to draw people back together?
  • What are asset management teams doing to protect portfolios in this C-19 environment?
  • What solutions are available for elevators?
  • How much will operating costs increase?
  • How are sector benchmarks or metrics shifting to meet the new Covid-19 reality?
  • In future, will an employer’s location matter less, and if so, what does that mean for the office sector?

If you missed it – check out the webinar recording here.

0 Boston Co-Living Update







Finding an affordable apartment in a convenient location in Boston can be a challenge. Co-living has appeared on the CRE scene as an affordable alternative to the traditional multifamily set up, but many remain unfamiliar with this concept. However, as Boston’s workforce presence grows and the demand for affordable apartments in central locations rises, it’s time for co-living to be taken seriously.

While developers can see co-living’s potential to provide returns, several questions about the future of this unique concept remain. Are shared spaces the next solution for affordable housing? Will the pandemic impact interest in this housing alternative? What does this mean for new development and mixed-use options?

Join Bisnow on June 30 along with Arx Urban Principal Benjie Moll, Kin CEO Britt Zaffir and Common Director of Real Estate Charlie Boutwell for a discussion moderated by Boston Realty Advisors Founder & Senior Partner Jason Weissman on co-living and what it means for Boston multifamily.

Our content will touch on:

  • How does co-living present a long-term solution for affordable housing options in the inner city?
  • How will co-living open the door to multifamily investment for young professionals?
  • How might co-living evolve in response to the pandemic? Will density be more of a focus?
  • What amenities are owners offering co-living properties?
  • What is the leasing landscape for co-living? Are Boston residents responding to this option?

There will also be plenty of time for questions.

Register HERE. 

0 Modular Housing For The Future







Join Bisnow tomorrow, June 23 along with ICON Architecture Associate Principal and Practice + Design Team Leader Kendra Halliwell, GreenStaxx Director of Business Development Hans Hawrysz and Berkeley Investments Development Project Manager Paul Goodwin for a discussion moderated by Boston Realty Advisors Managing Director and Senior Partner Will Catlin as they explore modular construction, what it could mean for Boston and how recent developments can innovate housing moving forward.

Our content will touch on:

  • What does modular construction mean for the bottom line, project timeline and consistency? Why are some missing the mark?
  • What solutions does modular present for TOD and affordable housing?
  • How are leaders overcoming the challenge of limited manufacturing options and supply chain?
  • How does modular construction compare to traditional methods? What are the advantages?

What is the investment return potential for modular developments in comparison to traditional projects?

Register HERE.

0 Boston Industrial: Rethinking Our City’s Industrial Infrastructure


Bisnow Tuesday, June 16 as Calare Properties CEO Bill Manley discusses how the pandemic has impacted Boston industrial and how the market will continue to grow in a post-pandemic world.

Our content will touch on:

  • What types of industrial deals are being made? Who is buying? Who is selling?
  • Why has the industrial sector been more insulated from the pandemic?
  • What will the long-term effects of coronavirus on Boston industrial be? How are owners planning for what’s ahead?
  • Can small industrial tenants survive this crisis? How are larger logistics tenants faring?
  • What is the state of financing for industrial in Boston?

Register HERE.

0 Transit During The Era Of Social Distancing: How The Pandemic Has Impacted Transit & What That Means For Boston

The use of transit and commuting has come to a halt since the start of the pandemic. Now, people are wondering what continued social distancing measures will mean for the future of subways and busses. How might the office community be impacted with limited commuter options moving forward? How will a lack of accessibility to the inner city impact the demand for real estate? What are transit leaders thinking about the future of transit?

Join Bisnow on June 11 along with MassDot/MBTA Chief Strategy Officer & Undersecretary Scott Bosworth, BSC Group President & CEO Sean O’Brien and Metropolitan Area Planning Council Government Affairs Director Lizzi Weyant as they discuss how the pandemic has impacted transit and their thoughts on what it could mean for the market.

Our content will touch on:

  • How will transit-oriented developments be impacted in the short and long-term?
  • People are always searching for homes and offices close to public transit hubs. If people are no longer using public transit due to the pandemic, how will that influence the demand for CRE?
  • How might the issues around transit during the pandemic impact the office market?
  • How will transit funding be impacted by the decline in government tax revenue due to the pandemic?

Register HERE.

0 Re-entry to the Office at BRA

The re-entry to the office for Boston Realty Advisors has begun. We require all team members and visitors to self-certify based on six questions.

We are using guidelines by the state of Massachusetts to get back to the office. Here are the ground rules:

  • All Employee and service providers entering a BRA workplace must gain approval by digitally signing a health declaration and receiving an “Entry Pass” for the day. Declarations are accessed by personal smart phones. We will be using a QR code system with Topple.io.
  • All Employees and service providers entering a BRA workplace must wear a facemask. BRA will provide masks to those who need them.
  • BRA will have Purell hand sanitizer locations up entry and throughout the office.