by Lenny Pierce, Research Analyst
Copley Square’s 501 Boylston Street has always had inherently strong fundamentals due to its size and location. The building takes up nearly an entire city block and connects retail-laden Boylston and Newbury Streets. These factors have created an impressive history of occupancy numbers for the building, including long stretches of zero availability. But even in the context of the building’s strong leasing history, 2014 stands out as a record year of strong activity for the building. With 191,000-sq.-ft. of the building’s 608,000 sq. ft. available in Q1 of 2014, the property saw 140,000 sq. ft. of absorption in six different lease transactions. 501 Boylston’s listing brokers, CBRE/New England’s Ogden White and Kevin Kennedy, feel this uptick in leasing has a lot to do with some key building features that have existed since the building’s original construction, as well as newer elements like a first floor fitness center and the promise of a completely renovated main lobby.
Groups that signed leases in 2014 included biopharmaceutical and medical device consulting firm Putnam Associates, architectural design firm Architectural Resources Cambridge, creative staffing agency Aquent, energy data services firm Genscape and PureTech Ventures, a venture firm focused on healthcare technologies. Features that proved equally attractive to this diverse set of occupiers included 15-foot ceiling heights and large windows, both of which are major draws in the modern office space market. These windows afford spectacular views of Copley Square and 200 Clarendon for many of the building’s tenants, a constant reminder of their premier location within the Back Bay neighborhood.
In addition to the quality of the actual office space, Kennedy thinks the first floor Boston Sports Club is a major selling point for the building. “Tenants today run through a checklist during a tour and will ask about fitness and food opportunities within the building,” says Kennedy, “keeping in mind they will use this address as a recruitment and retention tool for talent.” In addition to the gym, the location has a Pret A Manger on the first floor and 22 other dining options within a five minute walk. In September of 2015, a restoration and enhancement of the lobby will commence to provide a more inviting and functional space, with enhanced lighting and soft seating lounge area affording tenant the opportunity to better enjoy and utilize the building’s incredible lobby.
The strong leasing activity seen 2014 has continued into 2015 with the commitment of another 23,652 sq. ft. to a very exciting and high-profile company relocating to Boston from out of state. 501 is honored to have been selected as their building of choice given the myriad of submarkets and buildings that were considered. 29,652 sq. ft. remains available for lease on the 3rd floor with frontage on both Boylston and Newbury Street. According to White, just as the rest of the building did not have trouble attracting a wide variety of tenants, neither should this space. White considers candidates for this space to be “anyone looking for a quality building in the prime Back Bay location, but most particularly tenants who want exciting, high ceiling, bright, open space with an opportunity for creativity in a build-out design and finish.”