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May 6, 2007
One of the most prestigious names in Boston real estate, Leggat McCall, had fallen on hard times when a group of longtime employees bought the company in 2000.
The firm had a blue-chip name, but legendary founders Bill McCall and Thomas Leggat had long since moved on to new ventures.
Today, Leggat McCall is back, led by a new generation of dealmakers, president Eric Sheffels and executive vice presidents Eric Bacon and Mahmood Malihi.
The company boasts a portfolio of major development projects it is either building on its own or managing on behalf of local universities, institutions and companies, as well as its own investment fund.
In its newest deal, Leggat McCall will announce this week it has won the contract to oversee the development of the new $700 million Center for Life Science - a 20-story medical research tower that will be the tallest yet in the booming Longwood Medical Area.
“They bring a lot of new enthusiasm, aggressive interest in getting things done,” said David Begelfer, head of the local chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties. “They are out there as players. They are in the mix.”
Leggat McCall’s origins stretch back to the mid-1960s, when Bill McCall began scouting out farmland along Route 128 for the first of what would become a tidal wave of office parks.
Today, a core business of the firm is playing the role of the developer on behalf of universities, hospitals and companies with big projects to build.
Leggat McCall is now helping oversee the development of $2.5 billion worth of local projects, some in construction, others still in planning, of which the Longwood tower is just one piece.
It is a diverse portfolio that ranges from overseeing the construction of a new, 295,000-square-foot downtown Boston headquarters for law firm Bingham McCutchen to helping Massachusetts General Hospital roll out a major expansion. Other projects include Draper Lab’s new 190,000-square-foot lab and office building in Cambridge, a 150,000-square-foot expansion of the Children’s Museum in Boston and plans by Hebrew SeniorLife for a 162-acre campus in Dedham.
Moreover, Leggat McCall is also back in the market as a developer in its own right, buying properties and building projects.
The company recently acquired 500,000 square feet of offices in Canton, is building a $100 million plus condo complex in Cambridge, and is working on plans for an over-55 housing development in Cohasset.
Meanwhile, Leggat McCall has also launched its own investment fund, with plans to leverage $18.5 million in equity into $350 million in commercial properties across Greater Boston.
However, the reborn Leggat McCall is not your traditional development firm. The firm’s new leaders have backgrounds in engineering and construction, rather than real estate brokerage. It is training that has created a more analytical approach to deals, said Sheffels.
Leggat looks at each building as a product to be manufactured, breaking the process into various components, according to Sheffels. It is an approach that helps to create a more predictable flow of planning and work, taking out some of the risk in a process that can be notoriously tricky.
“We look at this like we are building widgets,” said Sheffels. “We look at it (buildings) as a product that has to be designed, built and ultimately marketed and sold in some fashion.”