Buy Buy NorthPoint

26 10 2007

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 The sale of the troubled NorthPoint project is grinding to a close.

Several developers have shown interest in building out what is essentially a new Cambridge neighborhood and have submitted their final offers, sources close to the process said.

The rights to the landmark project and the roughly 50-acre site it sits on could fetch anywhere from $150 million to $200 million, according to one executive familiar with the project.

The project’s current owners, a joint venture between the Boston and Maine Corp. and a group of local developers, opted to put NorthPoint up for sale this summer. The move came after a bitter court battle erupted between the development partners, with a Delaware judge now overseeing the sale process, sources said.

Executives at Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate firm hired to sell NorthPoint, declined to comment. However, a new owner is expected to be in place by year’s end, according to executives familiar with the sale.

Dozens of companies took out an initial bid package on the 5.5 million-square-foot NorthPoint project, according to one executive.

The final number of bidders is much smaller, with four or five serious contenders remaining before final offers were recently taken. Top retail developer Steve Karp, who built the CambridgeSide Galleria, is believed to be among those who took a serious run at the project, according to one source. Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, which has done extensive Cambridge development, is also considered a likely bidder.

Boston and Maine Railroad, which has a controlling stake in the NorthPoint development partnership, was also seen as a potential bidder, executives said.

However, a legal cloud hangs over the project. The state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled this spring that NorthPoint, under current laws, is required to undergo a Chapter 91 environmental review. The ruling came after the project’s developers had secured the city and state permits needed to begin work on NorthPoint.

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