Former Evergreen plant at Devens sells for $36 million

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DEVENS — It was one of the most publicized debacles of former Governor Deval Patrick: $56 million in tax credits to entice a solar panel manufacturing company to build at Devens, the former Ayer Army base.

The 448,000-square-foot building at 112 Barnum Road, was built by Evergreen Solar in 2010. But just several years later, the market crashed, Evergreen moved jobs overseas, and the plant closed in 2011. More than 800 employees lost their jobs.

The building’s star-crossed existence continued, when Saint-Gobain, a France-based building-materials company that occupied the building following Evergreen, ceased operations.

But in late 2013, the remainder of the building was leased by a manufacturer of plastic molded parts, bringing the facility to 100 percent occupancy.

The following year, Hackman Capital of Los Angeles and Calare Properties of Hudson, Mass., bought the plant out of Evergreen’s bankruptcy for $8.5 million.

Now the plant is in the news again.

Calare and Hackman announced Tuesday it has sold the building to “large institutional real estate investor” for $36 million. The sellers did not immediately announce the identity of the buyer.

“The sale of 112 Barnum Road is a major milestone and signifies our ability to identify and acquire undervalued properties, attract premier tenants, and deliver a tremendous return to our investors,” said Bill Manley, CEO and CIO of Calare. “Hackman Capital Partners and Calare took a calculated risk with the property due to its vacant state when purchased. However, with in-depth analysis, market knowledge and strategic repositioning, our team was able to transform the facility into a fully-leased and best-in-class asset.”

According to a joint Calare/Hackman press release, the property offers state-of-the-art manufacturing and research facilities including oversized air handling and humidification, emergency diesel generators, and gas distribution systems. Immediately following the purchase, Calare and Hackman Capital’s asset management team repurposed the facility for multiple-tenant usage, which required significant reconfiguration and careful planning. The low cost basis of the asset, coupled with superior quality, supported competitive lease rates in relation to all other properties in the market.

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