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NorthPoint project goes to Archon

Feuding owners are selling project for more than $175m

NorthPoint, a new minicity under construction in East Cambridge, is being sold, and its buyer is Archon Group, the real estate arm of the investment bank Goldman Sachs.

"I can confirm we have the property under agreement," Rob Griffin, president of Cushman & Wakefield of Massachusetts Inc., which represented the sellers, said yesterday.

Archon executives declined to comment yesterday, but Griffin said the company, which owns a substantial amount of property in Boston's Fort Point Channel area, was the winner of a stiff competition for the site.

The price was more than $175 million.

The purchase of the former rail yard includes 44 acres permitted and ready to go for 5 million square feet of office, lab, residential, retail, and hotel development. Two residential buildings are near completion.

NorthPoint was put on the market after its owners, Boston and Maine Corp. and Cambridge North Point LLC, got into a fight over the pace of the development and financial issues. The two had joined to develop a complex of up to 20 buildings, including a 10-acre central park and a new MBTA station to replace Lechmere Station.

Boston and Maine Corp. owned the land, located partly in Somerville and Charlestown, and brought in the real estate firm Spaulding & Slye to develop a new ground-up neighborhood. Spaulding & Slye was acquired by the global firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which continued managing development.

But Boston and Maine and Cambridge North Point sued each other early this year in Massachusetts and Delaware, and then in July they said they would sell the mixed-use project.

Cambridge North Point LLC is made up of about 100 investors, most formerly affiliated with Spaulding & Slye, and has a one-fourth share of the ownership. In July, Cambridge North Point said the agreement to sell the property constituted "a major step forward toward resolving the legal issues between the partners."

The feuding sellers chose to market the project as a whole and not split it up, to make closing - with one single buyer instead of multiple buyers - faster.

"The pedigree of the buyers was tremendous," said Griffin. "It's obviously one of the best markets in the country."

Archon has recently sold off some of its substantial holdings in Fort Point rather than develop them.

Meantime, the Cambridge commercial real estate market is tight, and Griffin cited recent corporate expansions by Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. as auguring well for NorthPoint's leasing future.

"Anything of scale has to come to this project, because it's the only permitted project," he said.

Archon specializes in commercial development and could sell the residential portion of NorthPoint - about 2,500 units - or find a partner to build it.

The hotel market remains strong in the Boston area, and NorthPoint, next to the T station, was attractive to hotel developers. "They're very keen on Cambridge," said Elizabeth Carrillo Thomas, executive vice president of Cushman & Wakefield.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at tpalmer@globe.com.

Photo Gallery PHOTO GALLERY: NorthPoint through the years
Previous coverage:
 Feuding owners aim to sell NorthPoint (Boston Globe, 7/25/07)
 Partners' row may threaten project (Boston Globe, 5/5/07)
 GLOBE EDITORIAL: All wet on NorthPoint (Boston Globe, 4/11/07)

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MINI CITY View a photo gallery on NorthPoint, and read previous Globe coverage of the development, at boston.com/realestate.

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