A strip of prime Harvard Square properties sold Monday for $108 million to a North Carolina-based real estate investment company, three months after hitting the market.
Charlotte-based Asana Partners said it purchased the cluster of buildings on 1-8 and 17-41A Brattle St., which house several businesses — including Black Ink gift shop, Cardullo’s Gourmet Shoppe, and Flat Patties restaurant. It’s the company’s first local acquisition.
The deal is the latest multimillion-dollar real estate transaction in red-hot Harvard Square, where investors have been jockeying for a piece of the retail market, buying properties from longtime owners and — in some cases — raising rents so high that some businesses have been forced to leave. Residents have also raised longstanding concerns about the ever-evolving character of the neighborhood.
Although the single-story 17-41A Brattle building — which includes Moleskine stationery shop and Felipe’s Taqueria — sits on property zoned for up to eight stories, Sam Judd managing partner at Asana, said the company has “no plans to demolish the buildings, no plans to add density on top of it.”
“We’re a very, very long-term investor, so this is not a speculative purchase where we’re going to turn around and sell it. This is a buy-it and hold-it forever,” Judd said.
Asana beat out multiple offers for the parcels, which were expected to fetch $100 million, said Dave Pergola, executive vice president and partner at real estate brokerage CBRE New England, which listed the properties branded Brattle Court at Harvard Square.
“It was an extremely competitive process,” Pergola said. “It moved at lightning speed.”
The Brattle Street properties were put up for sale by the two families that make up the Dow and Stearns trust, following months of legal proceedings in Massachusetts Land Court, where the matter landed earlier this year because one of the families initially did not want to sell the properties.
Two years ago, the family trust also sold for $85 million three properties on Brattle and John F. Kennedy streets, including the home of the Curious George store.
They owned 1-8 Brattle for over a century and the building around the corner at 17-41A Brattle since the 1930s. Combined, the two sites make up about 55,000 square feet of ground floor retail and upper-level office space.
The tenant leases on the two properties range from month-to-month, to some that have expired, to more long-term ones. Judd said the firm plans to talk to current tenants about their long-term plans. He said Asana’s vision is to bring in a mix of local, regional and national retailers.
“We’re not trying to create a mall here,” Judd said. “Harvard Square is a very unique and interesting place and we expect to have a unique and interesting mix of retailers there.”