New England’s Rob Nahigian, CRE, and Robert Cleary, Jr., CRE, Receive Prestigious James Felt Award from The Counselors of Real Estate®

Recognized for Adaptive Reuse of Former U. S. Army Facility in Boston’s Seaport District

(Chicago, IL) May 1, 2019—Robert Cleary, Jr., CRE, senior vice president of Colliers International in Boston, and Rob Nahigian, CRE, principal of Auburndale Realty Company in Newton, MA, have earned the 2019 James Felt Award for Creative Counseling from The Counselors of Real Estate®.  The award celebrates outstanding achievement and ingenuity in real estate counseling by a member of the CRE organization and was presented April 29 in Chicago.

The pair was recognized for its site selection, development, lease analysis, and adaptive reuse work in converting a World War II-era U.S. Army ammunition building in Boston’s Seaport District into the new design, fabrication, and manufacturing facility for JC Cannistraro, LLC.  The company consolidated operations from Wilmington, Stoughton, and Watertown, MA, into the 320,000 square-foot Art Deco building, relocating existing employees and anticipating growth to total up to 400 jobs in the popular burgeoning development district.

Cleary and Nahigian were retained as real estate advisors by Cannistraro in 2014, initially performing a lease audit of Cannistraro’s existing locations, as well as an analysis of relocation sites for a potential consolidation of the company’s multiple office, manufacturing, and warehouse locations.  Real estate options included (1) purchasing 10-15 acres of land for the development of new office and manufacturing space of approximately 200,000 square feet; (2) buying an existing commercial building of 150,000-200,000 square feet and renovating it to Cannistraro’s specifications; (3) purchasing an existing facility that could accommodate expansion plans; and (4) leasing a suitable property.  Cleary and Nahigian researched more than 100 locations before conducting financial feasibility assessments for several select sites and presenting recommendations.

The pair’s four-year corporate advisory assignment resulted in Cannistraro, a manufacturer of plumbing, HVAC, sheet metal, and fire protection systems, signing a 50-year lease valued in excess of $25 million, with two additional 10-year options for a 70-year control period.  Significant additional capital was invested in the full historic renovation of the nearly 80-year-old property, which is owned by the Economic Development and Industrial Corporation, a unit of the Boston Planning and Development Agency.

“This relationship with the Cannistraro family goes back several decades, and when we identified real estate as a means to bring operational efficiencies to the growing business, the leadership was very excited about the prospect,” said Cleary.  “In partnering with Rob Nahigian, we presented a highly knowledgeable and experienced advisory team.  It was a demanding process and review, but Cannistraro had the imagination, capacity and capability to realize a truly amazing accomplishment.”

The award honors the memory of James “Jack” Felt, CRE, a prominent real estate pioneer, founding father of The Counselors of Real Estate, former chairman of the New York City Planning Commission, and a trustee on many well-known corporate and charitable boards.

About The Counselors of Real Estate

The Counselors of Real Estate® is an international organization of commercial property professionals from leading real estate, financial, law, and business advisory firms, as well as real property experts in academia and government.  Membership is extended by invitation.  A stringent selection process ensures individuals that are awarded the CRE credential have attained the highest levels of expertise and achievement in their real estate specialty, particularly in offering sophisticated advice and high-level problem solving.  The organization is known for thought leadership, extraordinary reach, an uncompromising commitment to ethics, and the objective identification of the issues and trends most likely to impact real estate.

Counselors have created and endowed the MIT Center for Real Estate, resolved the dispute between the developer of the World Trade Center and its insurers post 9/11, led the privatization of U.S. Army Housing, developed a multi-billion-dollar, 10-year master plan for Philadelphia Public Schools, and valued both the Grand Canyon and Yale University.  Counselors reside in 20 countries and U. S. territories.

For more information on The Counselors of Real Estate®, visit