Planning for Worcester’s Future

John McGrail

Being a developer involves more than purchasing, renovating and managing properties. A lot of planning goes into creating successful developments. One of MG2’s strengths lies in planning, and that is reflected in the master plan we developed for Worcester’s Grid District. 

Worcester has been poised for growth for years. The city recognized it with its master plan for the Theater District and for the overall revitalization of the Downtown., MG2 had previously amassed 510 residential units, 300 parking spaces and approximately 60,000 square feet of retail space (with the potential to develop an additional 350,000 square feet.) Maximizing the potential of this investment requires significant planning. Through this master plan, the Grid District marries the history of the buildings and location with a cool, trendy “live and play” atmosphere that appeals to Worcester’s large student and young professional population.

The Grid District consists of an eclectic mix of buildings that currently house students and local businesses, as well as a number of vacant parcels primed for potential downtown development opportunities. Our master plan targets underutilized retail spaces and bolsters those spaces in multiple phases to create a bustling economic presence in Downtown Worcester.

Historic restoration is another key feature for the Grid District. Replacing windows in character with historic condition, updating brick facades, improving lighting and restoring storefronts to their original glory are just a few elements detailed throughout the plan. While the integrity of these buildings are being preserved, residential units are being outfitted with the modern amenities that renters desire.

Creating a lively urban community is a unique opportunity MG2 is excited to bring to Worcester. With that in mind, we have planned for spaces that can be utilized as pop up retail, temporary event spaces and “third spaces” (the stop between work and home) areas, while also developing opportunities for converting alleys into community meeting areas.

The Grid District is more than residential buildings. Once complete, the results of the master plan will transform MG2’s space in downtown Worcester into a highly desirable place to work, live and play.

The MG2 Approach to Vertical Integration

John McGrail

MG2’s approach to real estate investment is to capitalize on opportunities overlooked by others. But that’s only the beginning of the process.  As a vertically integrated firm, once we acquire a property, we are able to perform our own renovations and also manage the property through any stabilization period. Vertical integration provides MG2 four distinct advantages:

Cost control –When outsourcing construction, costs related to renovations can quickly outpace the budget, forcing changes to the original operating proforma. By operating our own highly-skilled construction staff, we are able to purchase the materials we need at discounted rates and complete renovation projects more cost-effectively.

Process management – Purchasing, renovating and managing properties is a significant task that, if not managed properly, can incur unexpected expenses or delayed timelines. Vertical integration allows us to manage every aspect of a project in-house, keeping budgets and timelines in check, providing added value to end-user tenants.

Differentiation – Operating a real estate investment company, construction company and property management company gives us access to the experts we need in every channel of the real estate business. Appraisers, bankers, builders, materials purchasers, management consultants and other industry professionals ensure that we are able to operate more effectively.

Improved efficiency – If you’ve ever worked with a large organization, you understand how difficult it can be to jump different levels of a company to get the information or approvals you need. By taking every aspect of the business in-house, we significantly reduce the time it takes to get the various aspects of a renovation process approved. This brings our properties to market sooner, helping to maximize investment potential.

As MG2 continues to grow, the foundation of vertical integration will serve as a vital component to consistently create value added properties. The expertise and know-how to take advantage of every step of the process, from acquisition to completion, puts MG2 in the unique position to succeed in Boston’s highly competitive real estate market.

Worcester’s Grid District: Why MG2 saw opportunity where others didn’t

John McGrail

Worcester, long touted as a college town, is finally beginning to look the part. Home to 12 renowned colleges and universities and nearly 38,000 students, the city has a highly educated workforce that companies are competing for, making Worcester home to a growing and thriving business community.

An influx of economic investment and the desire for city living, with more and more young professionals seeking to live in cities that offer a variety of amenities within walking distance, Worcester is poised for growth as a residential destination. The City itself recognized this, developing a master plan to transform its Hanover Theater District. Over the past several years MG2 has acquired significant real estate holdings in Worcester, now totaling 510 residential units, 300 parking spaces, approximately 60,000 square feet of retail space and the potential to develop up to 350,000 additional square feet of mixed use space.

MG2’s six acres of prime real estate, named “The Grid District,” is an eclectic mix of buildings that are historic, as well as some that are primed for redevelopment. The Grid District sits adjacent to the new City Square development and the Hanover Theater, as well as a number of the City’s civic institutions. Our parcels are at the hub of both east-west and north-south orientations – literally forming a web of interconnectedness that solidifies The Grid as a landmark destination in Worcester.

For more information on the Grid District, MG2 has launched a new website, thegriddistrict.com. Here you can find more information on the project, including specific building amenities, retail options and recreational opportunities throughout The Grid.

MG2 Completes Acquisition of Landmark Back Bay Residential Building

John McGrail

Last month, MG2 completed its acquisition of 223 Marlborough / 11 Exeter in Boston’s Back Bay for $9.1 million. The signature building consists of ten individual units, totaling 12,200 square feet and was originally constructed in 1900.

With entrances on both Marlborough and Exeter Streets, the building’s location on the sunny side of Marlborough makes it an ideal residential location. Residents of this building will be minutes from some of Boston’s most beautiful natural resources, Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the Public Garden and the Esplanade.   It is close to the desirable services and amenities of the Back Bay without sacrificing the tranquility that Marlborough Street is known for.

MG2 is currently planning to utilize its construction arm, Alaris Construction, to complete renovations on the building and units. Alaris allows MG2 to capitalize on cost savings as the firm’s highly specialized team continually delivers unparalleled work and has years of experience in historic renovations, as well as new construction.

Boston is experiencing an unprecedented building boom and the Back Bay continues to be a good investment. The neighborhood boasts some of Boston’s most sought-after properties and is definitely an area MG2 keeps a close focus on for investment opportunities.

MG2 Year End Recap

John McGrail

MG2 finished 2015 out strong, closing nearly one deal per week over the last two months of the year. The majority of those deals were closed in East Boston, an area historically ignored by real estate investors. While the cost per square foot in downtown Boston has been steadily rising, exceeding $1,000 per square foot in 2015, we are confident in the middle-market potential of East Boston. We will continue to invest in the redevelopment of that area of the city; providing quality, workforce housing options.

We were able to close on seven East Boston properties in 2015, totaling more than 70,000 square feet. Additionally, we have closed more East Boston properties in early 2016, bringing our total East Boston portfolio to 10 assets, and will retain a company focus on continuing to find value in East Boston throughout 2016.

Moving into 2016, we are also expanding our focus to include the opportunities available to revitalize downtown Lynn. In 2014, we were able to acquire an eight-story iconic flatiron building in the city center. We are planning a gut renovation of the building and restoring its exterior to its 1914 glory. Once complete, 49 apartments will be made available with an additional 3,800 square feet of ground floor retail space. “This is a very interesting project. It involves working with the City of Lynn, the State Office of Housing and Economic Development and Historic Tax Credit experts to bring market rate units and an active retail space to Central Square,” said Joseph Donovan, MG2 Vice President.

Lastly, we are in the midst of a massive repositioning project in Worcester on Franklin Street at Portland Street. This mixed-use development is nearly two million square feet, covering an entire city block and involving over 500 individual residential units that we have acquired over the past 10 years. The majority of the project consists of student and young professional housing, with an official launch of the new vision and redevelopment plans in May.

As we push forward into 2016, we are keeping an eye on real estate trends in the greater Boston region, and one that we are particularly interested in is the overall cost of construction. As a vertically integrated firm, MG2 has its own construction arm, Alaris Construction, enabling us to capitalize on cost savings and quality work through self-performed construction, similar to our work in downtown Lynn.

For more insight on Boston real estate trends, thought leadership on Boston’s real estate industry and updates on exciting projects, subscribe to our blog and never miss a post.