by Lenny Pierce, Research Analyst
May 27th marked the groundbreaking of the $31 million renovation project at 17 Court Street, longtime home of The New England Center for Homeless Veterans (NECHV). The renovations will consist of makeovers of the Advancement and Finance offices, as well as the addition of 38 new living units to the existing 61. Being a 115 year old building that in some areas was not up to code, the need for renovations had become obvious in recent years. What was less obvious throughout the process was where the organization would house their Advancement and Finance departments during the construction. Luckily for Charlene Pontbriand, Senior Vice President of Advancement at the NECHV, CBRE/New England’s
David Fitzgerald was immediately on her radar as a potential point of contact for the move.
Months earlier, Fitzgerald’s daughter had chosen the NECHV as the subject of a school project. “I reached out to the organization and scheduled a tour and interview for my daughter and two of her classmates.” said Fitzgerald, “They did a project on the Center for a national CSPAN competition.”
“We spent some time with him one day” says Pontbriand. “We gave him a tour and introduced him to the center.” When the decision was eventually made to vacate the building, Pontbriand knew they could use some professional consulting – and Fitzgerald was the first call she made.
“When it came time for us to vacate the building, we had a couple of opportunities that we explored which fell through” Pontbriand said. “As an organization we had never had the need to seek alternate space so we didn’t quite have the skills and resources to engage in a search for property … we called Dave because he was so intrigued by the vision of the center and he was extremely helpful to us. He engaged his team, including Suzanne Brown, and worked with us to find us a few options within our budget and within the radius of the center.”
Applying his wealth of experience working with law firms in Boston, Fitzgerald negotiated terms for a sublease opportunity right down the road at 1 Liberty Square on behalf of the center. It was in this building that law firm Berman DeValerio had a collective 15,852 square feet on the sublease market, room enough for the Advancement and Finance departments to move into.
“We did a specific search for NECHV that included Berman DeValerio’s sublease.” Said Fitzgerald. “BD did a very helpful low cost sublease for the Center.”
With the help of Jones Lang LaSalle representing Berman Devalerio, a lease was signed and the New England Center for Homeless Veterans had secured a new temporary home. The project at 17 Court street is scheduled for completion in October of 2016, at which time the NECHV will be able to resume their crucial community service under one roof once again.
The New England Center for Homeless Veterans was founded in 1989 and is a private not-for-profit organization. The Center is one of the nation’s largest private resources for Veterans of every era who may be facing challenges and are at-risk of homelessness. The center sleeps up over 300 persons every night and provides both transitional and permanent housing for veterans. Their experienced professionals provide the tools and direct Veterans to resources that enable successful independent living and meaningful employment. Looking forward, the NECHV’s ultimate goal is to permanently house all chronically homeless veterans by the end of 2015.