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“Exchange Place” Sells For $2.7M
by Melissa Bailey | Oct 18, 2013 7:41 am
Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Downtown
A month after a foster care agency abandoned its elegant downtown headquarters, developer Paul Denz has snatched up the building.
Denz bought the four-story brick building at the corner of Church and Chapel on Oct. 3 for $2.7 million through an LLC he set up called 123 Church Street Associates.
In an interview Wednesday, he said the purchase will complement two projects he’s planning just a block away at the old Kresge/Grant buildings, which were hit by a devastating fire in 2007.
Denz’s latest purchase, a 40,000-square-foot building at 123-127 Church St., houses Sovereign Bank on the first floor. The top three floors were occupied by Casey Family Services, a foster care agency. The Annie E. Casey Foundation shut down the program and moved out of its headquarters this summer.
The agency left behind 30,000 square feet of Class A office space, which includes lots of sunlit rooms with elegant staircases. Denz has hired a firm called CBRE: New England to look for a new tenant for that space. He said he could lease the three top floors to a single tenant, or he could split up the floors among several tenants. Sovereign Bank is staying put.
The building, known as “Exchange Place,” was built in 1832 by William Jekiel Forbes. Denz called it an example of Greek Revival architecture. It was renovated in 2003.
The building comes with no parking.
However, Denz is in luck: He already owns a parking garage on Orange Street, as well as a large surface parking lot, a block away from 123 Church. Those properties sit in a +-shaped cluster of properties in the center of the block bound by Chapel, Orange, Center and Church streets. The properties used to house the Kresge and Grant department stores. After a historic fire ripped through in December 2007, the city razed most of the block.
Development plans for that block have stalled for six years. First they were tied up in a years-long lawsuit between Denz and the city over who would pay demolition costs. Denz settled with the city in 2011 and announced plans to move forward with plans to rehab 91 Church St. into apartments and perhaps build something on the surface parking lot.
Denz said Wednesday that he is finally ready to move forward.
“We’re talking to a tenant” who would occupy a new, 18,000 square-foot commercial and office building on the site, Denz said. He said he expects a deal to close soon.
The abandoned building at 91 Church will be rehabbed into four apartments and a ground-floor retail “at the same time that we do the other deal,” Denz said. “I’m currently negotiating with a tenant in that space also.”
“It’s all been coming together for six months,” he said of the two projects.
“It’s been really difficult to put it all together. I’m 90 percent of the way there.”