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Business Manager’s Blog

Michael Monahan

Michael P. Monahan, the Business Manager of Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, represents more than 7,000 electrical and telecommunication members in the Greater Boston area.

In addition to the strong and steady leadership he provides to his Local Union on a daily basis, he exudes the same qualities when providing services for the community, whether it is coordinating volunteer efforts for electricians who are donating their skills at various places, such as schools and private homes for disabled individuals, or the installation of wireless capabilities for the City. From his days as a rank-and-file member through his current position as Business Manager, Mike has met every challenge and serves his membership with pride and distinction.

Roche Bros. Eye Davis Square for New ‘Brothers Marketplace’

If all goes well, the grocery store could be open by late 2015.

Boston Magazine | By Steve Annear
August 19, 2014

Brothers MarketplaceIf Alderman Jack Connolly had a dollar for every time he heard someone in Somerville say that the city needs a grocery store in Davis Square, he’d be “a pretty wealthy guy.”

Soon, those calls for an “urban market” could come to fruition.

Officials announced this week that the Roche Bros. chain is looking to open a “Brothers Marketplace,” a small-scale grocery shop that offers locally-sourced produce, fresh fish and meats, and a café, at 240 Elm St. in Davis Square. The market would fill the Social Security Building, which has been vacant since 2010.

“I think they hit a homerun, and it will be a homerun for people who want to go to the square and do everything they need to do in one stop,” said Connolly, who posted a rendering of the proposed plans on his Facebook page this week. “Having this there will be another choice for people, and it will be one of the most significant developments here in the square in the last 20 years.”

On September 10, developers of the marketplace will host a community meeting on site to explain their proposed plans for the property. Connolly said from there, Roche Bros. representatives will file the proper paperwork to the city’s Planning Department to try and move the project forward.

According to preliminary details from Davis Square Architects, Somerville officials said the Brothers Marketplace would occupy roughly 13,300 square feet of the property, and displace the current Dunkin’ Donuts located in that building, moving it from the corner of Elm and Chester Streets to another space in the same building. Brothers Marketplace would then take over nearly all of the first floor, and a health club would move into the second floor of the building and part of the third floor, competing with the nearby Boston Sports Club.

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Boston’s First $20M Condo Is Closer Than You Think

Curbed Boston | By Tom Acitelli
August 20, 2014

45 Province PenthouseFor more than 20 years, Diane Maloney has been representing many of Boston’s highest-profile new condominium developments. I recently caught up with her to talk about this market’s past, present and future. (Disclosure: Diane works for Raveis Marketing Group, which is one of the affiliated companies of William Raveis Real Estate, the brokerage where I work.)

I’ll name a development that you participated in and you say the first thing that comes to your mind. The Four Seasons?
People think it’s a great location right now, but when we did it [in 1985], it was not the best location in town. In fact, the old Playboy club was right behind it. We were selling at $600 to $700 a square foot and the buyers were mostly New York and international at the time because Bostonians really just didn’t get full-service.

Trinity Place at 1 Huntington Avenue?
We were just coming out of the recession and the building was actually set as an apartment building. In the [purchase-and-sale agreement], we actually had that we had to have 80 percent sold before it would convert over to a condominium and we sold out before the building was finished [in 1999].

Minot Hall at 1723 Washington Street?
That was a nice little building down in an area that at the time [in 2002] was considered emerging. The price point was right, at $400 or $500 a square foot and it had parking, which was amazing for that area. It was much more South End people buying.

The Belvedere at 100 Belvedere Street?
We started out at about $750 to $850 a square foot and ended up well over a $1,000 a square foot, which was ground-breaking for that time [2003]. The best concept was the catering kitchen and breakfast and library on the first floor, which gave it a neighborhood feeling.

FP3 at 346 Congress Street?
It had the first really edgy look to a building in that area and the Seaport wasn’t even beginning to be developed at that point [2008]. It was young, edgy and people willing to live in a neighborhood that was emerging, so not many empty-nesters there at all.

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Designated developer of overgrown Roxbury land given another month to prove it can actually build there

Universal Hub | By adamg
August 21, 2014

Roxbury DevelopmentTremont Crossing: This time for real?

P-3 Partners, which has the city nod to build a large mixed-use development on what has become an urban wild across from Boston Police headquarters on Tremont Street, has until Sept. 18 to “articulate a clear funding plan and demonstrate concrete interest on the part of prospective retail, office, and commercial tenants,” the BRA says.

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Simon Finalizing $500M Copley Plan

Boston BisNow
August 21, 2014

Copley Place InsideMany developers have tried and failed to build over the Mass Pike. (It’s the Gordian Knot of development.) But the Simon Property Group is determined to deliver its first air rights project—the $500M addition to Copley Place—and just hired the interiors architect to complete the design.

For its biggest current development project, the nation’s largest public real estate company retained ODA Architecture of New York, planning to complete construction documents this year and start building next spring, Simon’s VP of design Gaylon Melton tells us. To meet the structural challenge of finding solid ground, the team will use technology refined for the Big Dig to stage equipment on a deck over the highway and from there, work underground. They’ll erect a concrete slurry wall to protect the transportation infrastructure—trains and the Pike—and build a steel support resembling the Eiffel Tower for lateral stability, he says. Construction of the foundation and support structure will take a year.

The interior of the 625-foot residential tower—109 condos and 433 apartments—that will accompany 115K SF of new retail is still undefined. But ODA founder Eran Chen (above center, white shirt) intends for it to be contemporary, international, and elegant to echo Boston’s strong economy, growing global cache, and reflect the unique site that straddles the historic Back Bay and South End. To create a new level of luxury living, the vast interior space will also be intimate and personal through the choice of materials and space configuration. The amenities will provide a “world of activities”: perhaps a spa, wine storage, private entertaining, and meeting rooms.

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First look: Filene’s transformed into new office for communications firm Havas

Beta Boston | By Scott Kirsner
August 20, 2014

Havas office 1

Havas office 3

I must admit: even though Filene’s closed almost ten years ago, I was a little sad to see the escalators, the stacks of sweaters, and the perfume-spritzers gone. But the Watertown architecture firm Sasaki As

Havas office 2sociates has kept a few traces of the department store that was once part of every Bostonian’s life as it transformed the top four floors of the landmark Downtown Crossing building into offices for Havas. Havas is a French communications conglomerate that owns Boston ad agency Arnold Worldwide; Debi Kleiman, an executive vice president at Havas Media and former director of the trade group MITX, gave me an early look at the space last week.

The four floors are connected by wide staircases, and Havas calls the space a “village,” since it will house employees of Arnold, Havas Public Relations, Havas Media, which handles online and offline media buying for clients, and several other teams. About 600 Havas employees move in on Monday. No one has private offices, and the 64 conference rooms are all named after departments of the old Filene’s store. Kleiman says her hope is to bring in startups and speakers to keep Havas employees plugged into what’s happening at the leading edge of adtech, mobile apps, and digital media.










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New England governors’ energy effort on hold

Boston Herald
August 21, 2014

BOSTON — A nearly year-long effort by New England’s governors to collectively address the region’s high energy costs is on hold now that some have voiced concerns about the initiative’s dual strategy of importing Canadian hydropower and investing in new natural gas pipelines.

Energy officials from the six states have been developing a proposal that would impose federal tariffs on electric ratepayers to finance the energy infrastructure projects. But the group — the New England States Committee on Electricity — has decided to hold off on the process for at least a month.

The governors had planned to present their tariff scheme, which would ultimately need approval from federal regulators, to a regional association of power companies and users by early September.

But Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is seeking a delay while his administration analyzes different energy scenarios, including those that would not require the construction of extensive natural gas pipelines.

“We clearly do want to continue working with our fellow New England states on a regional solution,” Krista Selmi, spokeswoman for Patrick’s office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said this week. “But we really do need to look at what our needs are at this point.”

Massachusetts is a seen as a key piece of the regional plan since it accounts for nearly half of New England’s total electricity consumption.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s administration says it’s “deeply concerned” by the development, which comes as other governors have expressed reservations. LePage, in a letter sent to other New England governors last week, called on Patrick to reconsider his stance.
“We all recognized the problem and we moved forward together,” Patrick Woodcock, director of the Maine governor’s energy office, said this week. “We can’t back away. We need to address regional energy challenges with regional energy infrastructure.”

This winter, state officials say, New England can expect to see a continuation of 2013′s dramatic rise in energy costs, when the total value of the region’s wholesale electric energy market reached about $8 billion, compared to just $5.2 billion in 2012.

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Energy firm tries to build support for 68-mile underwater power line for Greater Boston

Boston Business Journal | By Jon Chesto
August 19, 2014

Bearskin Neck in RockportThe warning that we could face rolling blackouts in Greater Boston in a couple years would seem like bad news to most of us.

But for New Hampshire Transmission, it represents a major opportunity.

The Seabrook, N.H.-based subsidiary of NextEra Energy is trying to build support for a proposed underwater power line that would bring 520 megawatts of power from southern New Hampshire into the Boston area. The underwater portion of the 68-mile line would be 50 miles long, leaving the shore in Salisbury and making landfall in Lynn, passing Cape Ann along the way.

NHT’s SeaLink proposal is currently competing for attention at grid operator ISO New England’s headquarters with another proposal from National Grid and Northeast Utilities that consists of new transmission lines into and within Greater Boston. NHT officials hope ISO New England will make a decision this fall.

NHT President Matt Valle tells me his firm’s proposal is superior to the rival plan because it could be permitted and constructed at a faster pace, and without the community impacts that overhead power lines can create. The underwater cable would also be more reliable, he says, than overhead lines during times of extreme weather. The cable would be buried beneath the seabed for its underwater route, and would follow an abandoned railroad bed and partially completed bike path from the Lynn shoreline to the Mystic substation in Everett.

“The situation is clearly urgent,” Valle says. “When we’re talking about the potential for rolling blackouts for 3 million people, this becomes a public (concern).”
NHT first proposed its alternative to the Northeast Utilities/National Grid projects in 2012, according to ISO New England spokeswoman Marcia Blomberg. These transmissions projects, because they address reliability concerns, would be funded by New England ratepayers through the electricity market that ISO New England oversees.

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Google to shark-proof its massive fiberoptic cable with kevlar

Silicon Valley Business Journal
August 15, 2014

SharkSolar flares, lightning strikes and copper thieves are bad enough, but now sharks are also working to undermine global communications networks?

At a Google Cloud event in Boston, Product Manager Dan Belcher revealed in a speech that the company is wrapping its trans-Pacific undersea fiber-optic cables in Kevlar (or a Kevlar-like material, according to a Google Fiber document), to protect
them from shark bites.

Belcher said the covering is part of Google’s work to protect its infrastructure, according to tech news website Network World.

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Plan for assisted living facility moves ahead in Woburn

The Boston Globe | By John Laidler
August 17, 2014

Benchmark Senior LivingThe City Council last week approved a plan to build an 87-unit assisted living and memory care facility in Woburn.

Benchmark Senior Living of Wellesley is planning to construct the facility on a vacant 4.5-acre portion of an overall 5-acre site at the intersection of Salem, Washington, and Cedar streets in east Woburn. A single-family home on the remaining half acre would remain.

The City Council, which last December approved a zoning change for the project, voted 8-1 last Tuesday to grant Benchmark a special permit for the plan, which calls for 67 assisted living units and 20 memory care units, all rental, in a building to the rear of the site.

The council vote puts the approximately yearlong approval process for the $26 million project close to the finish line. Benchmark also is seeking the approval of the city’s Conservation Commission.

“We have been working closely with city of Woburn officials and staff as well as the neighbors to the site for close to a year,” Lee Bloom, Benchmark’s senior director of development, said in a statement. “We are very pleased with the approval of the plans for our senior housing community and look forward to starting construction.”

As a condition of the project, Benchmark has pledged to invest about $500,000 in improvements to the area, notably to upgrade traffic signals at two intersections to improve traffic flow.

The development also would create 70 permanent jobs, 100 temporary construction jobs, $150,000 in annual city tax revenue, and $140,000 in one-time building fees, according to Benchmark.

The project was opposed by some neighbors and owners of units in a nearby office condominium, who cited concerns about the size of the development and its effect on traffic.

But Ward 5 Alderwoman Darlene Mercer-Bruen, whose ward includes the 321 Salem St. site, voted for the rezoning last year and in favor of the special permit.

“I’m not easy to convince when it comes to developments like this and when it comes to rezoning,” said Mercer-Bruen. But she said she became convinced that Benchmark’s plan made sense for that location.

The triangular-shaped site is across Washington Street from a neighborhood of single-family homes. But Mercer-Bruen said there also are two large residential condominium complexes nearby on Salem Street, and an office park on Cedar Street.

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Welding the Subway Rails

Transit Agency Works to Replace Bolted Joints That Break More Easily

The Wall Street Journal | By Andrew Tangel
August 17, 2014

Welding SubwaysFor decades, subway rails bolted together on the Eighth Avenue line have carried express trains hurtling between Columbus Circle and Harlem.

But on a weekend early this month, crews swapped about six city blocks’ worth of those traditional 39-foot pieces of steel under the Upper West Side with longer ribbons of new rails that are welded together.

Faced with a worrisome increase in fractures in the last few years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has stepped up installation of welded rails on the subway lines with the most track troubles. The aim: cut down on bolted rail joints that are more prone to wearing down and breaking.

“That is where the weakness in that track is,” said Joe Leader, senior vice president for subways in the MTA’s transit division. “Your joint bars could break. Your bolts could break.”

Subway rails don’t get much attention in the shadow of the MTA’s marquee projects. The authority has been finishing the long-stalled Second Avenue subway, extending the 7 train to Manhattan’s West Side and building a Long Island Rail Road station beneath Grand Central Terminal.

But rails have become a focal point of the agency’s construction work since an F train’s derailment in May highlighted the dangers of broken subway tracks. The MTA said it is also looking into purchasing portable welding devices to speed up the installation of welded rail.

The MTA discovered a broken rail underneath the Manhattan-bound express train that jumped its tracks in the Woodside neighborhood in Queens, injuring 19 passengers. It was the worst subway derailment since 1991, when an intoxicated motorman crashed a train at Union Square, killing five passengers.

The authority’s investigators believe a rail fractured as the F train passed over, according to a person familiar with the matter. The broken rail appears to have then derailed the express train, this person said, though the MTA hasn’t disclosed what may have caused the fracture. The rail in question had been installed in February.

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908 Devices doubles Boston headquarters, continues to hire

Boston Business Journal |By Don Seiffert
August 19, 2014

908 DevicesFollowing the launch of its hand-held mass spectrometry device in March, 908 Devices announced today that it’s more than doubling the size of its South Boston facility and will be hiring another 20 or so employees over the next year.

The company has been working out of a 7,000 square foot research center in Boston’s Innovation District on DryDock Avenue since it was founded in early 2012. Founder and CEO Kevin Knopp says the expansion adds another half floor at the same building, bringing the total to 16,000 square feet, and includes a full machine shop, research labs, a clean room and meeting space.

The expansion is fueled by a need to manufacture it new product in what he says is a $3 billion to $4 billion worldwide market for mass spectometry, the M908. Weighing about four pounds and the size and shape of a hardcover dictionary, the device is a simpler, smaller and faster version of devices that analyze the molecular structure of substances made by Waters Corp. in Milford and Perkin Elmer in Waltham. The M908 is aimed at military and security first responders, and can be used to detect hazardous chemicals or explosives within seconds. Knopp says the company is “working with a dozen partners” with multiple units at each one so far. The unit’s list price is $50,000.

The plan from the beginning, says Knopp, has been to apply the same “high-pressure mass spectrometry” technology to a range of industries, including the life sciences. The company will now be focusing on that goal with the appointment of a former CFO for Perkin Elmer’s Life Science & Technology division, Joe Griffith, to the same position at 908 Devices.

Starting out with just seven employees and a technology platform that developed out of a partnership with the University of North Carolina, 908 Devices has grown to 30 employees today. In a year, Knopp says the company will be at around 50 employees, as he hires researchers, technicians and others. The company manufactures the devices right in the Boston headquarters, he said.

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Fueled by $150M in funding, mobile security firm Lookout to open Boston office

Boston Business Journal | By David Harris
August 19, 2014

Jim DolceA week after receiving $150 million in funding, San Francisco-based mobile security firm Lookout said Tuesday that it will open a technology development center in Boston and hire as many 50 employees in the next year or so.

The tech company is planning to open an office in a 16,000-square-foot facility in the Financial District and expects to hire up to 50 people in engineering, sales and marketing over the next year or so. The company is currently in the middle of negotiations for space and wouldn’t disclose the exact address.

The announcement is somewhat of a reunion for Lookout’s CEO, Jim Dolce, who previously served as an executive for Cambridge-based Internet content delivery company Akamai.

Dolce still maintains a residence in Boston, even though he now calls San Francisco home.

Dolce said he looked at other cities such as New York City and Seattle for an office, but ultimately settled on Boston because of the talent, among other reasons.

“The reason we’re expanding beyond San Francisco is we’ve got a supply and demand problem here,” he said. “There’s a tremendous demand for talent and a limited supply. We had to find places where the supply and demand curve was reversed.”

The expansion to Boston comes on the heels of last week’s news that the company completed a $150 million round of funding led by investment funds managed by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. The deal also included Morgan Stanley Investment Management, Wellington Management Co., Goldman Sachs and Bezos Expeditions.

Lookout is the maker of an app that targets malware, or viruses, on smartphones and tablets targeted at consumers. The new funding, Dolce said, will target enterprises that have an increasing number of employees who use their personal smartphones for work purposes.

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Skanska Taps New President & CEO

Globe St. | By Rayna Katz
August 19, 2014

Richard CavallaroNEW YORK CITY—Skanska AB has named Richard Cavallaro an EVP of Skanska AB and president and CEO of Skanska USA, overseeing the company’s US construction operations, which had combined revenue in 2013 of nearly $7 billion. Cavallaro, who also will be a member of Skanska AB’s senior executive team, succeeds Michael McNally who previously announced plans to retire from the same role at the end of the year.

Michael Cobelli steps into Cavallaro’s role as president and CEO of the Skanska USA Civil business unit. Both Cavallaro and Cobelli are Skanska veterans. Cavallaro has been with Skanska since 1996 and has led the civil business unit for the past five years doubling its revenue and tripling its profit. Under his leadership, USA Civil expanded its geographic footprint, shifted from a regional player to a national competitor, became a significant force in the power and industrial space and consistently achieved the company’s best safety record.

“Rich has a deep understanding of our clients’ needs; a track record of strategic leadership; depth of knowledge; and a straight-forward communications approach,” says McNally. “Adding all of that to his ability to consistently drive results makes me certain that he will continue to strengthen our US operations.”
As president and CEO of Skanska USA Inc., Cavallaro will be responsible for Skanska’s US construction operations including USABuilding, which specializes in building construction, and USA Civil, which is focused on civil infrastructure. He will be one of nine members of Skanska AB’s Senior Executive Team responsible for global operations.

McNally is retiring after 35 years in construction and six years as Skanska’s US leader. During his tenure, McNally transformed the business into a powerful brand and it grew to become the second largest domestic building contractor and the third largest domestic heavy civil contractor.

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Downtown Crossing Is Improving, According to Area Business Leaders

A panel of experts says that part of town is rapidly changing for the better.

Boston Magazine | By John A. Keith
August 18, 2014

Downtown CrossingThe 575 guests who attended Bisnow‘s Future of Downtown Boston Summit last week heard mostly positive things about Downtown Crossing from the event’s featured speakers. That’s an improvement for the neighborhood, which has suffered greatly during the past 60 years, ever since visitors to Boston abandoned our city’s primary shopping district for the malls of the suburbs.

Larry DiCara, a historian and former City Councilor, kicked things off with his typical flair for the unexpected, calling for the relocation of City Hall to Winthrop Square and the end of buses on the streets of downtown Boston. Then Paul McMorrow, of Commonwealth Magazine, moderated a keynote interview with Tony Pangaro and Ron Druker. His first question was regarding the state of Downtown Crossing as it is now, and what the biggest challenge is to keeping it on the right track toward greater success.

To Anthony Pangaro of Millennium Partners, the company behind the Ritz-Carlton Towers and Millennium Place condominium developments and the under-construction Burnham Building / Millennium Tower project, the biggest threat to the neighborhood’s growth is the lack of a focus on transportation. “Downtown Crossing has five transit lines, very good local bus service, as well as two commuter rail stations,” said Pangaro, who spent seven years putting together the MBTA’s Southwest Corridor project in the 1970s. “Infrastructure is crucial. I think the crossroads that we’re at—we’ve got to reinvest or we’re going to lose the thing that keeps us alive. We’ve got a greater density, people without cars, but at some point our transit system is the lifeblood. If we let it go, what we’re doing today won’t work for very much longer.”

Ronald Druker, of the Druker Company, agreed. As he told the crowd, the three most important things in real estate are “transportation, transportation, and transportation.” To him, Downtown Crossing has something that no other neighborhood in Boston can replicate: it’s the nexus of where people must go through; the result of that is the differentiating factor between Downtown Crossing and the Seaport District. “In the Downtown Crossing, there is a fabric, a feeling that you’re in the city,” said Druker. “Old, new, a difference in demographics, the feel of a city. The Seaport is never going to feel like the heart of the city.”

The second half of the summit was moderated by Allen Lynch, a partner at Nixon Peabody. Panelists Rosemarie Sansone of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District and Margaret Ann Ings of Emerson College sang the praises of Downtown Crossing; they didn’t dwell on the problems that still exist the neighborhood—the things that are noticeable to anyone spending any amount of time there. The row of empty storefronts, the people who hang around all day, how it’s deserted after 6 at night. Little was said about the negative effects Downtown Crossing’s resurgence is having on the residents of Chinatown, just down the street.

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Say goodbye to the Birds Eye

Site demolition making way for Fort hotel

Gloucester Times | By James Niedzinski
August 19, 2014

The day of reckoning for the old Birds Eye industrial building has finally come.

Crews from Windover Construction, now based in Beverly, have begun tearing apart portions of the building on Commercial Street.

The building where Clarence Birdseye developed the first modern food freezing techniques is being torn down to make way for Beauport Hotel.

The hotel is the brainchild of New Balance chairman Jim Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester proprietor Sheree DeLorenzo Zizik, under the company Beauport Gloucester LLC. And after a lengthy permitting process, legal challenges, revisions and public hearings, the time has come for the building to come down.

Lee Dellicker, Windover’s president and architect for the hotel project, said the process started about a month ago with some initial site visits and investigations. Now, crews are tearing out asbestos and making sure there are no other hazardous materials in the building.

The demolition plan is to “pull the building in on itself, to limit debris from the property,” Dellicker said.

Once the building is finally demolished, the next step will be to ensure that there are no hazardous materials in the soil, Dellicker said, adding that there is no anticipation of finding any.

That will be followed by two to three months of seawall construction, he said. The seawall plans had to be pushed more inland under conditions of two separate settlements reached with Mortillaro’s Lobster Co. and the Port Community Alliance residents’ group, both of which had filed legal challenges against the project in 2013.

The start of the demolition process — the first tangible on-site steps toward the development of the hotel — also comes as the city is gearing up to carry out infrastructure work around Fort Square. That project is estimated to cost $7.5 million, with a total of $2 million of that coming from Beauport Gloucester LLC.

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