Boston Real Estate Times Announces 2023 Excellence Awards Winners, Awards Gala Set for Sept. 13


BOSTON—Boston Real Estate Times, New England’s largest commercial real estate digital, print and video media, today announced the winners of its annual Excellence Awards in Commercial Real Estate for 2023.

All the winners will be honored at the award ceremony during the 2023 Excellence Awards gala on Sept. 13, 2023 at the Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA.

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Here is the complete list of the Boston Real Estate Times’s 2023 Excellence Award Recipients:

Bill Cummings

Lifetime Achievement Award 2023

Bill Cummings

Founder, Cummings Properties & Cummings Foundation

Mr. Cummings founded Cummings Properties in 1970, serving as president and, later, chairman. He currently spends most of his time on the work of the Cummings Foundation, which awards at least $30 million each year, and has awarded $500 million in total to date, to a widely diverse group of nonprofits in Massachusetts.

Mr. Cummings grew up in Medford and, in 1958, graduated from Tufts University. After holding sales positions with Vick’s VapoRub of Greensboro, North Carolina and Gorton’s Seafoods of Gloucester, he acquired, built up, and eventually sold Old Medford Foods, a well-established firm manufacturing fruit juice beverage bases.

He got his start in commercial real estate with just one small building, which he built next door to Old Medford Foods, and then led Cummings Properties’ expansion into an 11 million-square-foot portfolio, now managed by more than 350 team members.

In 1986, Mr. Cummings and his wife, Joyce, established Cummings Foundation, which has grown to be one of the three largest private foundations in New England. They were the first Massachusetts couple to join the Giving Pledge, an international philanthropic organization founded by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, and they have been honored to receive dozens of community accolades and honorary degrees.

Among Mr. Cummings’ many honors are Real Estate Entrepreneur of the Year for New England from Ernst & Young, Edward H. Linde Public Service Award from the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), and Real Estate Visionary of the Year from Boston Business Journal. He and Joyce were also inducted into the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Academy of Distinguished Bostonians.

In 2020, Mr. Cummings released the latest edition of his self-written memoir, Starting Small and Making It Big: An Entrepreneur’s Journey to Billion-Dollar Philanthropist, which includes thoughtful reflections on the lessons he has learned about business, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.

Matt Daniels

Person of the Year 2023

Matt Daniels

Executive Managing Director, JLL

Mr. Daniels brings 26 years of commercial real estate experience to JLL’s Boston Leasing team with experience representing tenants and landlords in the Greater Boston Market. In his tenure at JLL, he has touched various transaction types and product types totaling $4 billion.

As the Brokerage Lead and Executive Managing Director, Mr. Daniels and his team continue to be market leaders in structuring the region’s most complex and creative transactions on behalf of their clients.

For 26 years, Mr. Daniels has helped large, global clients define and execute their real estate needs. He develops customized leasing strategies that ensure his clients maximize their real estate value.

Mr. Daniels attended Phillips Exeter Academy and received his Bachelor of Arts from Brown University. He is a Licensed Massachusetts Real Estate Broker and is the former president of the Commercial Brokers Association, Greater Boston Trustees of the Reservation. In addition, He serves as a board member on the Hamilton Little League Board, a former board member for Team Impact, and as the President of the Steering Committee for Appleton Farms. Most recently, he was a recipient of the McCall Leadership Award as Broker of the Year (a lifetime achievement award).

From left to right: Mark Pelletier, Jonathan Cocker and Mike Kunz

Architectural Firm of the Year

Maugel DeStefano Architects

Principals: Jonathan Cocker, Mike Kunz and Mark Pelletier

Maugel DeStefano Architects has shaped exceptional designs for Medical, Lab, Life Sciences, Industrial, Multifamily and Corporate Real Estate across New England. The firm is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year with continued growth under the new ownership team and by maintaining a laser focus on solving design challenges through innovation and creativity for its clients in fast-changing environments.

Founded in 1993 in Melrose, Mass., as Maugel Architects with only two employees, Maugel DeStefano Architects has now grown to a staff of about 40 professionals, with offices in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The award-winning firm is recognized for its expertise in strategic planning, architecture and interior design, new builds, and asset repositioning across various sectors, including healthcare, industrial, science & advanced technology, multifamily, commercial and custom residential.

What has enabled the firm’s growth and strong reputation in the marketplace today comes from its expertise and ability to solve the space challenges faced by small-to-large companies in fast-changing economic and technological environments. Over the years, Maugel DeStefano Architects has designed over 30 million square feet of world-class space for clients ranging from real estate developers to direct users in a wide range of industries, such as life sciences, medical devices, biopharma, biomanufacturing, manufacturing, multifamily, commercial, as well as corporate interiors.

The firm grew organically for 25 years and then acquired New Hampshire-based DeStefano Architects in 2019. At the start of 2023, Founder Brent Maugel assumed the title of Principal Emeritus and fully transitioned to an advisory role as a design influencer on major projects.

Brokerage Firm of the Year

Atlantic Retail

Principals: Bryan Anderson, Scott Black, Sean Gildea, Brian McDonald, David Smookler, Ben Starr, Steve Tomasello and Peter Considine

Atlantic Retail had a monster year in 2022 cementing itself as New England’s #1 retail focused brokerage firm, developing and implementing growth strategies for retailers and restaurants while advising retail owners on both leasing and dispositions.

A Boston-based firm, Atlantic currently works with more than 75 retail clients ranging from
large format operators like Target, Costco, and Life Time, to smaller format users like Chick Fil A, Chipotle, and Chase Bank as well as a whole host of concepts in between covering retail, fitness, restaurant, and service users.

Their advisory services extend to a breadth of property owners from large institutional investors, family offices, and merchant developers. With its seasoned tenant rep and landlord rep teams, Atlantic has a unique pulse of the market, an unmatched transactional track record, and valuable long-standing relationships. The explosive growth of Atlantic Capital Partners, their investment sales division, during the course of 2021 and 2022 provided additional fuel for Atlantic’s success.

Atlantic Retail’s Boston office has been advising clients throughout New England for over 30
years. Since then, the company has expanded to nine offices along the East Coast and Southern California. As they’ve grown, they have come to offer their clients a complete suite of services, including the divisions of Atlantic Capital Partners, Atlantic Property Management, and Atlantic Retail NYC.

Construction Firm of the Year

Groom Construction

Principals: David Groom, Dwight Groom, Tom Groom, and Scott Faulkner

Groom Construction, founded in 1979 and incorporated in 1985 by Tom, Dave and Dwight Groom, along with fellow principal Scott Faulkner, remains a family-owned, full-service general contracting firm, offering preconstruction, construction management, design-build and general construction services throughout the US.

What began more than four decades ago as a residential firm quickly evolved into a national general contracting business synonymous throughout the Greater Boston area and now nationally, with the highest levels of construction excellence, quality and integrity.

From high-profile university work to medical facilities, affordable housing to luxury condominiums, recreational facilities, banking, and national retail work, Groom Construction continues to align itself with customers who are looking for long-term relationships and future-forward partnerships.

It is evidenced by the firm’s impressive amount of repeat business alongside a growing client list.

Massachusetts-based, Groom Construction has steadily built a national reputation over the past 45 years.

With 30 years of experience in construction, Groom Principal David Groom has helped build Groom Construction into the company it is today. He has managed hundreds of construction projects that vary in size and complexity, both as a project manager and a project executive.

Along with assisting his brother, Tom, in the day-to-day management of the company, David also leads the generation of new business for the company.

With over 20 years in the industry, Dwight has been a leader at Groom, forming the Retail Division. Totaling over $250 million in retail build-outs, the division has completed hundreds of projects of various sizes and has developed long-standing relationships with major retailers nationwide.

Tom is co-founder of Groom Construction and has served as President for over 35 years. Tom has helped steer the company with his vision of how a family-run construction company should operate. Tom continues to be responsible for the day-to-day management of Groom Construction along with many projects that vary in size and cost.

Carol Speredelozzi

Corporate Property Management Award

Carol Speredelozzi

Former Director of Operations, Third Rock Ventures

Ms. Speredelozzi’s role and combination of skills make her a leading member of the life sciences real estate community in Boston. She has held operational leadership roles in the Boston area for over 20 years. Most recently, she was the Senior Director of Operations for Third Rock Ventures, a leading healthcare venture firm focused on advancing disruptive areas of science and medicine to deliver breakthroughs to patients.

In her role there, she oversaw several real estate projects and helped support the real strategy for the firm and for the portfolio companies it launched. She sometimes worked closely with the portfolio companies to oversee the design and build-out of their first lab and office space. The last big project Ms. Speredelozzi oversaw for Third Rock was the relocation of their Boston office from the Back Bay to a brand-new Life Science building in the Fenway at 201 Brookline Avenue.  Speredelozzi played an integral role in ensuring the space would work optimally for the next stage of Third Rock’s growth and helped support Third Rock’s vision to expand Boston’s biotech hub into the Fenway.

Ms. Speredelozzi‘s first leadership role was as the Director of Operations for an architectural and interior design firm, ADD Inc (now Stantec).  After 8 years there and overseeing the relocation of their corporate headquarters to the Seaport, Ms. Speredelozzi moved into the Biotech space, helping to start up multiple life science companies at various stages of development, such as Tempero Pharmaceuticals, a former GSK Company focused on drug development for immunoinflammatory diseases, and Voyager Therapeutics, which focuses on breakthroughs in gene therapy for CNS and other diseases. Ms. Speredelozzi start with operations for a design firm early in her career proved to be very valuable as she moved into operational roles in the life science space.

She studied English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and she is passionate about supporting organizations that do great things and make a big impact on the people and communities they serve.

Marion Jones

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Champion of the Year

Marion Jones

Director of Workforce Development & Industry Inclusion

Associated General Contractors-Massachusetts

Ms. Jones is the first-ever Director of Workforce Development & Industry Inclusion at the Associated General Contractors of Massachusetts (AGC-MA). In this role, she has pioneered bridge-building events and initiatives designed to elevate and energize the regional construction industry.

Her work has established powerful pathways into the construction sector for traditionally underrepresented populations. Ms. Jones, who is also the founder and CEO of Worktech LLC, a consulting company specializing in DEI and workforce development, and has a longtime commitment to creating lasting impact across organizations and in communities with a focus on diversity, racial equity, and coalition building.

Among her accomplishments with AGC-MA are the coordination and programming of an annual weeklong summer externship experience that introduces educators and guidance counselors to the many rewarding career opportunities in the modern construction industry. This comprehensive program includes presentations at leading construction firms, visits to job sites, and presentations from industry leaders. She also established a pilot program with 5th and 6th grade students at Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan which regularly brings construction professionals together with students to collaborate on age-appropriate STEM-related activities.

Ms. Jones also leads educational sessions with industry professionals and oversees AGC-MA’s Committee for Diversity and Inclusion, working collaboratively with leads from more than 25 commercial construction firms to champion and advance industry inclusion efforts. She oversees AGC’s annual Diversity Summit, opening doors for minority business enterprises (MBE) and women business enterprises (WBE) to be equipped with information and resources to grow their business. She has made tremendous and transformative impact that supports and advances the growth of women and people of color within the construction sector.

Prior to joining AGC MA, Ms. Jones brought her workforce development talents to Eversource Energy, where she oversaw training and workforce development strategies including the Electric Power Utility Technology (EPUT) program – a best-in-class pipeline to employment approach recognized by the Biden Administration as a model workforce development initiative. She is a member of the Wentworth Construction Management Industry Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Girls in Trades Advisory Board, the Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology’s Industrial Advisory Board and the Building and Property Management Program Advisory Board at Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, a volunteer with Building Pathways and a YouthBuild Boston Advocate. She holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Baruch, City University of New York (CUNY) and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.

Lee Rosenthal

Investment Firm of the Year

West Shore

Lee Rosenthal, President

West Shore, a fully integrated real estate investment firm with a specific focus on the acquisition and management of multifamily assets, recently made its landmark 50th acquisition for the fast-growing company that blends an entrepreneurial approach to real estate with institutional investment discipline.

Boston-based West Shore was founded in 2016 and owns and operates a diverse portfolio of of 14,000 units at 46 multifamily properties across seven states, with a total market value of more than $3.5 billion.

The firm is led by Lee Rosenthal. He oversees all aspects of the firm including overall direction and growth, investment strategy, investor relations, property management, development, acquisitions, dispositions, financing, and asset management.

Prior to forming West Shore, Mr. Rosenthal was responsible for the underwriting, analysis, and execution of all acquisitions, dispositions, and financing at Northland Investment Corporation for a multifamily portfolio of 23,000 units. Over the course of six years, he closed on the acquisition of nearly 7,500 units, the disposition of nearly 2,500 units, and the refinancing of over 40 properties contributing to over $2 billion in capital events. Additionally, Lee played an active role in the asset management of the portfolio. He holds an AB from Harvard College. He is a member and active participant in ULI, REFA, NMHC, and Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

Marianne Ajemian

Real Estate Attorney of the Year

Marianne Ajemian

Partner & Chair of Real Estate Department, Nutter

Ms. Ajemian is Nutter’s Real Estate Department chair and an attorney with a reputation of being innovative, highly responsive, and a practical advisor. She has over 30 years advising local and national clients in complex transactions.

She was the first woman to serve on the firm’s Executive Committee, a role she held for nine years. Under her leadership, Nutter’s preeminent real estate practice has represented clients on transactions involving properties located in almost every state. In 2022 alone, Nutter’s national real estate practice managed 310+ commercial property acquisitions and dispositions; oversaw the permitting for 195+ real estate developments; and handled 230+ real estate loans valued at over $9 billion.

Ms. Ajemian’s practice is pioneering and consists of representing financing institutions, real estate investment funds, developers, real estate investors and advisors, pension fund advisors and their institutional investors, REITs, healthcare and senior housing companies, and nonprofit institutions. In addition, Ms. Marianne advises clients on all aspects of commercial real estate acquisitions, development, dispositions, and leasing involving a broad range of projects, including mixed-use and transit-oriented developments, office buildings, life sciences projects, industrial properties, multi-family housing projects, hotels, restaurants, and institutional uses.

Her ability to reduce complex matters to the sum of their parts has made her an effective communicator, educator, and pivotal team leader. She is a problem solver who can develop a strategy, build consensus, energize her team, oversee the effective implementation of a plan, and get results. Her combination of precise legal and drafting skills, while also providing effective counsel on business issues, is a combination of skills that is not easy to find. Even in the most contentious negotiations, Marianne is able to set aside the emotional element, focus on core principals, and propose creative solutions that work for all of the parties involved in the transaction.

Ms. Ajemian is consistently recognized as a leader in real estate. She is a Fellow in the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, a past president of the Commercial Real Estate Women Network (CREW Network), a past president of CREW Boston and a member of the Real Estate Finance Association, NAIOP Massachusetts, the Urban Land Institute (“ULI”), the Boston ULI District Council, and one of ULI’s Urban Development and Mixed-Use Product Councils.

Tom Lorenzini

Real Estate Finance Company of the Year

Tremont Realty Capital

Tom Lorenzini, Senior Vice President

A commercial real estate debt finance expert, Mr. Lorenzini has been central to Tremont’s evolution and growth over the last two decades. Tremont is the real estate finance division of The RMR Group (Nasdaq: RMR).

Mr. Lorenzini, who also serves as President and Chief Investment Officer of Seven Hills Realty Trust (Nasdaq: SEVN), has distinguished himself as a transformational leader. In 2000, following roles at Finova Realty Capital and Belgravia Realty Capital, he became a founding partner of Tremont Realty Capital, a firm known principally for raising debt and equity capital for owners of commercial real estate (CRE) and managing funds invested in CRE loans.

Based in Chicago, Mr. Lorenzini oversaw Tremont’s Midwest operations and over the next decade and a half, developed a reputation as an expert on debt financing. After The RMR Group acquired Tremont in 2016, he became crucial to the origination of loans for Tremont Mortgage Trust (TRMT) and RMR Mortgage Trust (RMRM), two mortgage REITs managed by Tremont Realty Capital.

In 2020, Mr. Lorenzini assumed leadership of Tremont Realty Capital, eventually overseeing the expansion of loan portfolios for both TRMT and RMRM and the subsequent 2021 merger of both REITs into Seven Hills Realty Trust (Nasdaq: SEVN), which focuses on providing financing to owners of middle market commercial real estate.

With Mr. Lorenzini at the helm, Tremont Realty Capital and SEVN have both experienced significant growth. The Tremont team originated more than $685 million of CRE loans in 2021 and 2022 for assets across the U.S. in virtually all major property sectors. SEVN’s portfolio has grown to more than $674 million as of March 31, 2023. Under Mr. Lorenzini, both Underwriting and Asset Management teams have expanded, providing further capacity to support lending. Additionally, SEVN has continued to raised its dividend from $0.15 per quarter per share premerger to $0.35 per share in the most recent quarter. Importantly, despite choppy market conditions, Tremont is still actively lending.

In May 2023, SEVN announced the execution of a $37.5 million loan to refinance a student housing property near Auburn University in Alabama; beyond this, the company is still actively lending in this disjointed market.

With more than 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate finance industry, and as a founding member of Tremont business, Mr. Lorenzini has created an active and collaborative work environment for his team and under his leadership, Tremont has been named a Lender Influencer by GlobeSt. and recognized as a Top Lender by Connect CRE.

Michelle Hopson

Non-Profit Organization of the Year

Massachusetts Building Congress

Michelle Hopson, Executive Director

Established in 1921, the Mass Building Congress (MBC) provides business and networking forums and collaboration opportunities for professionals responsible for leading the $10.6 billion building industry in Massachusetts.

MBC members include the region’s architects, engineers, general contractors, construction managers, subcontractors, clients, labor and trade associations, and professional service providers within the design and construction industry.

Recent MBC programs focused on DCAMM’s capital budget and project pipeline, businesses creating opportunities through DEI, an introductory address by Arthur Jemison, Boston’s new chief of planning, and an onsite look at the redevelopment and future of Boston’s Nubian Square.

Michelle Hopson serves as the organization’s executive director. She recently succeeded the MBC’s renowned director Jan Breed, who served the organization with distinction for three decades, building lasting relationships for the MBC and producing consistently successful events and programs.

Ms. Hopson is a seasoned nonprofit executive and entrepreneur with 15 years of experience advising nonprofit boards and managing the financial, program, and organizational growth of professional associations.

Jonathan Cristiano

Sustainability and Engineering Firm of the Year

AHA Consulting Engineers

Jonathan Cristiano, Partner, Mechanical Project Engineer

Mr. Cristiano has successfully planned two new all-electric high rise laboratory facilities in Somerville, MA, totaling over one million square feet for the Assembly Innovation Park.

AHA has also joined other leading AEC companies to urge the Biden Administration to take action on climate change in the building industry in the Build Back Better plan.  These proposed actions will bring significant impacts in promoting healthy housing and resilient communities, electrifying to achieve a carbon-free grid, and promoting material health and product transparency, among others. In addition, AHA is committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. The firm embraces and encourage all employees, regardless of age, color, disability, ethnicity, family and/or marital status, gender identity and/or expression, race, religion, or other characteristics.

Working with clients like eBay, NCR, Gingko Bioworks, Department of Homeland Security, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, speaks to the experience and reputation AHA has worked tirelessly for.