The office tower at 1 Memorial Drive, Kendall Square, has sold for $825 million. (Photo: Marc Levy)

It’s being called the biggest office sale so far of 2021: The 17-story tower at 1 Memorial Drive, Kendall Square, traded Thursday for $825 million. At 409,422 square feet, that puts the sale at worth around $2,000 per square foot.

The building – leased to Microsoft and InterSystems, a seller of database software for health care, business and government – last traded for $405 million in 2014, according to the Bldup real estate tracker. It’s been held by the Oxford Properties Group and a JPMorgan branch; the new buyers are MetLife Investment Management and Norges Bank Investment Management.

With its perch overlooking the Charles River, it’s also long been known for commanding the highest rental rates on a per-square-foot basis in Cambridge; the tower’s builder in the late 1990s, The Congress Group, continues to boast of the fact in its portfolio.

“We acquired this property with high conviction in the market’s growth potential and an intention to enhance its value through our direct management capabilities,” Oxford executive vice president Chad Remis said, noting that the company had turned an entire floor of little-used parking into offices to increase rentable space by more than 10 percent. “We took a creative approach to developing additional office space,” Remis said.

In other development news:

  • Not as big as One Memorial in any specific way but staggering on its own, 55,410 square feet of manufacturing and research space in a low-slung brick building in Somerville’s Inner Belt sold Sunday for $35.5 million. The 35-37 Medford St. building, occupied by the maker of 3D printers Formlabs, was sold by Columbia Property Trust to an unnamed “downtown Boston-based property developer,” Bldup said. But btcRE deserves some credit for fixing up the place after buying it in 2012 for $4.2 million. The boutique real estate investment firm said it took a deteriorating building with “numerous building code violations, unsafe conditions, faulty equipment and unattractive finishes” and transformed it, netting $12.5 million in a 2016 sale. But, hey, the new figure is only a 184 percent jump in sale price in a little over five years.
  • Construction has begun on the building that will house a College of Computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bldup reported Tuesday. The eight-story, 120-foot structure of 174,000 square feet is coming to 51 Vassar St., Area II, replacing the institute’s distinctive Cyclotron Building. Completion of the headquarters is expected in 2023, the final step in a $1.1 billion initiative that began taking shape just in October 2018 with a $350 million gift from Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the asset management firm Blackstone. Suffolk has been named the general contractor.
  • Plans have been filed for a 27-unit apartment building at 73 Summer St., Spring Hill, Somerville, about a 10-minute walk from Union Square at a site that was AL Prime Energy and Somerville Gas & Auto Repair (with prices at the pump once known to be consistently among the lowest in the area). Trax Development said it will build a three-story, 31,535-square-foot structure with 18 below-ground parking spaces, Bldup reported Aug. 17. In June, there were three projects reported that were expected to add a total 163 residential units closer to Union Square, which is soon to have a new green line subway station.

Feature image from Bldup.

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