Category: Paul Ognibene

Paul Ognibene / Urban Spaces Harvests 85-95 First Street in Cambridge

Cambridge, MA– Paul Ognibene, the CEO of Urban Spaces, a Cambridge-based commercial real estate development company that focuses on mid-sized, transit-oriented projects, has sold the 10,000 square foot, fully-leased retail building to 12 Jayne Road, LLC for $11.2 million, or $1,120 per square foot.

According to Paul Ognibene, the building, located 85-95 First Street, was completed in June 2019 with 4,600 SF of space pre-leased to specialty pet food and supply store Loyal Companion. Paint supply store Sherwin-Williams will lease 2,900 SF when it relocates from its previous location at 73 First Street, and the United States Post Office will lease the remaining 2,500 SF upon finalizing negotiations.

85-95 First Street is the third component of the original vision of Paul Ognibene and Urban’s $275 million investment in the First Street Corridor. The full development will be comprised of over 250 apartments, 50,000 SF of office, 45,000 SF of retail space, and a 23,000 SF of green space upon completion. Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces completed 121 First Street, a 60,000 SF, five-story, mixed use office/retail building in December of 2018, leasing the entire 50,000 SF office portion to CarGurus, the online automotive research platform and marketplace.

Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are currently building Kendall East, a mixed-use apartment complex comprised of 136 units, 14,800 SF of retail and a half acre of green space located between 121 and 85-95 First Street. Designed by award-winning architectural firm Perkins Eastman, the project is located within the First Street Corridor across the street from CambridgeSide shopping center and is within minutes of MIT and the MBTA Kendall Square and Lechmere stations.

“The speed of the lease-up and the valuation of the property are further testament to the strength of the Cambridge market and the First Street Corridor,” said Paul Ognibene, CEO of Urban Spaces.

The deal was brokered by the Conviser Property Group.

Paul Ognibene Announces Opening of BRIX Sales Gallery

Luxury Condominium Residences – Now Taking Reservations

Salem – (From l to r) The Honorable Kimberly Driscoll, Mayor of Salem, MA, and Paul Ognibene, CEO and Founder of Cambridge-based development company, Urban Spaces.  The pair, along with other dignitaries and members of the development team, recently celebrated the Grand Opening of the Sales Gallery for BRIX.  A new 61-unit condominium building in historic Salem’s downtown, BRIX is being developed by the joint venture of Paul Ognibene / Urban Spaces and Duke Montaigne / Diamond Sinacori.  For more information, see

Salem, MA, October 26, 2020 – Paul Ognibene, the founding partner and primary developer of BRIX, a new 61 unit condominium building under construction in downtown Salem, is pleased to announce the grand opening of the Sales Gallery. As Salem’s first concierge building, the residents of BRIX can expect an unparalleled level of comfort and service in these new condominium homes. High-end designer finishes, an inviting roof terrace, club room, fitness studio, and underground garage parking are just a few of the thoughtfully-designed amenities. This signature building is just steps from a short train or ferry ride into Boston.  BRIX was developed jointly by Paul Ognibene / Urban Spaces and Duke Montaigne / Diamond Sinacori, and is expected to be ready for occupancy in Summer 2021.

“The opportunity to work with the City of Salem in an open and collaborative manner has been incredibly gratifying.  We’re proud to have had the opportunity to develop a building that will make a beautiful contribution to historic downtown Salem, one of America’s municipal treasures,” said Paul Ognibene, CEO of Urban Spaces.

The Sales Gallery is located at 32 Church Street, just around the corner from BRIX, and was designed under the direction of Paul Ognibene.  It is intended to introduce prospective homeowners to a selection of available unit plans, materials and finishes, and a broad range of pricing options.  Visitors will also have the opportunity to get to know the neighborhood in-depth and to have a real sense of the unique pedestrian lifestyle offered by BRIX.  During individually-scheduled appointments, prospective buyers can preview one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and three-bedroom offerings, including a collection of spectacular penthouse residences.

“There’s already been incredible interest and we’re excited to open the BRIX Sales Gallery and start taking reservations,” said Paul Ognibene.  “The thought and care that has gone into every detail of this building cannot be overstated and we’re looking forward to sharing that with prospective homeowners.”

Condominium homes at BRIX are priced from the low-$400,000s to over $1 million for water-view penthouses.  Sales Gallery appointments can be reserved at

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Urban Spaces, LLC is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based real estate development company.  Founded in 2004 by CEO Paul Ognibene, Urban Spaces has earned a regional reputation for award-winning developments that revitalize and enhance emerging and well-established neighborhoods.  The company has a broad range of experience, including new construction, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation in both the private and public sectors.  In addition to being an innovator, Urban Spaces is also an influencer and is known for forecasting and advancing many of the important urban trends that we see today, such as micro-units, modular construction, and NetZero environmental design.  Urban Spaces continues to make important contributions to enhance the urban fabric of its host communities.   For more information, visit


Urban Spaces CEO Stays Loyal to Alma Mater

With an MBA from Harvard University under his belt, it was to his roots of Boston College that Paul Ognibene (BC ’93) turned when founding Urban Spaces, a Cambridge-based real estate company.  While Urban Spaces has employees and partners who’ve graduated from schools across the country, I was struck by the number of people now doing business with Paul Ognibene who share BC roots.  I’ve attended meetings which, to the casual observer, could be as much about a love of BC as the many real estate projects now underway and involving this cast of Eagle alums.

Let’s start with Paul Ognibene, the chief executive officer of Urban Spaces and de facto leader of this aureate cabal from The Heights.  An economics major at Boston College, it was here that he met his wife, Jennifer Sayer Ognibene (BC ’93), as well as many of the people who would join him in launching their respective careers.  In doing so, however, Paul Ognibene made sure to maintain contact with those closest to him as an undergraduate and, when came time to launch Urban Spaces, it was to these Boston College friends to whom Paul Ognibene first turned.  Even today, many years and many projects later, these same Eagle alumni are involved with almost every project undertaken by Urban Spaces.    

Next up is Dave Notter (BC ’93), the chief operating officer of Urban Spaces, a close friend and business confidant of Paul Ognibene.  Since their time at BC and prior to Urban Spaces, Ognibene and Notter began their professional partnership launching ClubTools, a Web-based company started in 1999.  While Ognibene is the face and voice of the firm, Notter is the one who keeps it all running.  Whether it’s issues dealing with deal execution, infrastructure and process, human resources, or the analysis of each project, Notter provides the essential leadership without which the business fails to function. 

Another member of Paul Ognibene’s Eagle cabal is Mike Surprenant (BC ’93), a principal of Goedecke & Company, LLC.  Surprenant has been working with Urban Spaces for over 15 years, having arranged $500 million of construction loans, mezzanine, and permanent debt for Urban Spaces projects. Of particular note, Surprenant’s wife, Joy Olaes Surprenant (BC ’93), founded and runs Catching Joy, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit that promotes volunteerism beginning with young children, teens, and their families.

As Paul Ognibene always says about condominium development, “We’re in the business of selling condominiums, not building them!”  And there are no two people better to do so than fellow-BC alums, Betsy Merry (BC ’74) and PT Vineburgh (BC ’01).  Merry is a founding partner with Dan Fox of Merry-Fox Realty in Salem, Massachusetts, and Vineburgh is a founding partner with Michael DiMella of Charlesgate Realty Group in Boston.  Urban Spaces initially brought in Charlesgate to sell The Lancaster, a 55-unit condominium project in Brighton, just down the street from BC and The Rand, a 20-unit condominium project in Porter Square / Cambridge.   After a successful sell-out of both projects, Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces turned their attention to breaking ground on a new 61-unit condominium development dubbed BRIX, located in the heart of burgeoning downtown Salem, Massachusetts.  In addition to Merry’s outstanding sales abilities, her many relationships throughout the city of Salem with residents, dignitaries, and luminaries have been invaluable to the project’s success.

The newest member of the BC Mafia is Ralph Parent (BC ’02).  Parent is well known locally for a stellar football career starting with All-American honors at Brookline High School, continuing with a full scholarship at BC, and culminating with a brief stint with the NFL.  Parent has followed his athletic success with a string of accomplishments that have made him a highly-regarded member of the Boston real estate community.  He and his company, Pederson Consultants, have become  go-to entities for facilitating communication inside of City Hall and with community groups throughout Boston.  Parent and Urban Spaces have recently partnered on two multifamily development projects which will bring needed affordable housing to Boston residents.

The BC Mafia has contributed to the success of Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces.  The number of Boston College graduates involved with Paul Ognibene speaks to something other than convenience, habit, or a lack of imagination.  Rather, it affirms Ognibene’s  sense of friendship, loyalty, and commitment to maintaining BC’s values at the forefront of real estate development in Boston. 


Urban Spaces CEO Committed to “Giving Back”

Paul Ognibene

Recent events have been a time for reflection as to how we can make a difference in society.  Paul Ognibene, the CEO and founder of Cambridge-based Urban Spaces, has been working on that mission over the years and hopes his work can be a means to give back in various ways.

For example, the development of BRIX, a 61-unit condominium building now under construction in Salem, Massachusetts, is providing community benefits such as a piece of sculpture to mark the site’s importance as a gateway to downtown Salem.  However, much of Paul Ognibene’s work provides benefits that extend beyond the bounds of the subject project itself.

When developing The Lancaster, a 55-unit condominium development in Boston, Paul Ognibene spearheaded an initiative called BUILDING A BUILDING, a classroom and real-time curriculum for Brighton High School students to learn about the many career opportunities associated with real estate development.  The experience involved members of the development team, from the ownership to architects, contractors and subcontractors, giving a presentation each week on a different career possibility.  These sessions were followed by a short walk to the construction site to see the work described in the classroom being performed in reality.  The BUILDING A BUILDING program has now become a staple of projects developed by Paul Ognibene.

Perhaps even more significant, Paul Ognibene is a key driver of a new entity aimed at developing affordable housing in some of the neighborhoods of Boston that need it most.  Having learned of a number of city-owned vacant lots in these communities, he sponsored, capitalized, and grew a mass-production affordable housing machine geared to construct and convey scattered-site homes on a large scale.  Working with the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (“DND”), this initiative also aims to create an economic development engine within each neighborhood.  To this end, all of the homes are slated to be designed, engineered, and constructed using minority, women, and local residents for the various trades required for the effort.  There will be much more on Paul Ognibene and this innovative approach to addressing affordable housing, one of the nation’s most pressing issues.

Just as Doctors Without Borders “gives back” within the experience of those who are medically trained, Paul Ognibene is leading the way for those of us involved in the world of real estate development.  And, as is the case with many of the real estate trends he has spawned, Paul Ognibene is inspiring others to follow his lead and to do likewise.   

Three Chickens and a Hippo

Paul Ognibene stands out in a crowd

When my daughter was very young, she had a children’s book in which you were instructed to circle the thing that didn’t belong.  For example, if there was a drawing that showed a motorcycle, a car, a truck and a plane, you’d circle the plane.  And if there was a drawing that showed three chickens and a hippo, you’d circle the hippo.  In almost any conversation about real estate in the greater Boston area, Paul Ognibene is the hippo.  His work with Urban Spaces, the company he founded and leads in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is almost always a trend-setter and, by the time that his ideas become a trend, he’s off pursuing another venture that will help shape the real estate market for years to come.  Instead of a hippo, perhaps a gazelle or a whirling dervish might be a more apt analogy to describe Paul Ognibene.

Examples of such unique bodies of work abound across the Commonwealth.  In Allston, the innovative 1047 Commonwealth Avenue, is the largest development of micro-units in the country. In the Brighton section of Boston, Paul Ognibene forecasted and spawned the re-birth of Brighton with the development of The Lancaster. And now, the perpetual motion machine that is Paul is at it again with BRIX, now under construction, which is the first major high-end condominium development in burgeoning downtown Salem. Salem had yet to exhibit the obvious trends of a “hot market” when he recognized the potential of drawing both empty-nesters and young professionals from both the North Shore and Boston to one of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful and historic cities.  Currently, Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are also working in the public sector and he’s created a new entity, the Boston Partnership for Community Reinvestment (“BPCR”).  The BPCR is emerging as a valued mass-production vehicle for developing and constructing affordable housing in some of Boston’s most distressed communities.  Simultaneously, this work is creating an economic development engine by providing construction jobs to residents of those impacted communities.  Ognibene, a true innovator and trend-setter, has also become an influencer, an oracle of sorts to whom people are drawn to listen.  In that typical role for him, where his work speaks volumes about the man, Paul Ognibene is always the hippo.

Paul Ognibene – Innovator and Influencer

Paul Ognibene, the CEO and founder of Urban Spaces, LLC, a Cambridge-based real estate development firm, has established himself as one of the most trusted and reliable prognosticators of real estate trends in the greater Boston area.  Over the past several decades, he and his firm have quietly been responsible for many of the urban trends that we’ve already experienced and will lead the way for all of us in the future.  The trend-setting work of Paul Ognibene includes, among many other examples, the innovative 1047 Commonwealth Avenue in Allston, the largest development of micro-units in the United States, and the forecasting and jump-starting re-birth of Brighton with the development of The Lancaster.  And Paul Ognibene is doing it again with BRIX, now under construction as the first major condominium development in burgeoning downtown Salem.  Salem had yet to exhibit the obvious trends of a hot market when he recognized the potential of drawing both empty-nesters and young professionals from both the North Shore and Boston to one of the Commonwealth’s most beautiful and historic cities.  Currently, Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are working in the public sector also, and he’s created a new entity, the Boston Partnership for Community Reinvestment (“BPCR”).  The BPCR is emerging as a valued mass-production vehicle for developing and constructing affordable housing in some of Boston’s most distressed communities.  Simultaneously, this work is creating an economic development engine by providing construction jobs to residents of those impacted communities.  Paul Ognibene, in addition to looking forward, is trying to give back which will be another trend that will mark urban development more and more in the post-pandemic future.  It would behoove anyone or any organization to hear more about his views as hecontinues to influence the world in which we’ll soon be living.  Paul Ognibene regularly shares his thoughts at various real estate symposiums and, to see his work, please visit Urban Spaces.  It will be worth the trip.

Building The ‘Burbs

Paul Ognibene Builds BRIX in Salem, MA

Paul Ognibene can remember when Salem was mostly known as a tourist attraction during Halloween season. While Salem remains a favorite destination for visitors from across the country during that time, the city is also the home of one of the hottest residential real estate markets along the North Shore. Paul Ognibene is proud to announce that Urban Spaces is providing an opportunity for those looking to live in a community on the rise in the form of a high-end condominium building, BRIX. The community will offer 61 units from one to three bedrooms, as well as the exclusive Penthouse Collection.

Paul Ognibene is particularly proud of this venture as Urban Spaces is again collaborating with frequent partner Diamond Sinacori, LLC. The two companies are always looking for ways to provide great residential and commercial real estate that will benefit local communities, as was the case with The Lancaster, Boston’s first LEED Gold-certified condominium, which included 35% affordable units. With the discovery of an available vacant courthouse on Washington Street in Salem, Paul Ognibene and Diamond Sinacori CEO Merrill Diamond recognized the development potential of the property in this historic downtown.

As with any real estate project with which Paul Ognibene and Urban Spaces are involved, the goal is to provide value to the local community. Salem’s residential architecture features many facades with brick exteriors, so Paul Ognibene wanted to ensure that the design of the condominiums was complementary to the neighborhood fabric. At BRIX, visitors and residents will be greeted by a two-story lobby with an elevator and a full-service concierge desk. During the spring and summer, a beautiful terrace will be available featuring gas grills, a fire pit, and comfortable seating. Residents will have access to a fitness center, underground parking, dedicated storage, a club room for events, bike racks, and more.

BRIX condominiums will provide residents with ideal city living accommodations. From high-end designer finishes to kitchens filled with Bosch appliances, residents will enjoy modern living in a historic district. Paul Ognibene introduced the project by saying, “Our work at BRIX builds on the core mission of Urban Spaces and will enhance and revitalize this important part of downtown Salem.”

Massachusetts Steps into the Forefront of COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Paul Ognibene

In the past few weeks, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has spread at a rapid rate in most areas of the United States and the world. The situation has caused an alarming number of deaths and massive human suffering.  From an economic perspective, it’s also caused many industries to slow.  And with social distancing and preventative measures in full force, we all feel the impact on our everyday lives. Paul Ognibene, CEO of Cambridge-based Urban Spaces, notes that while the COVID-19 crisis has devastating implications, it’s worth highlighting that there has been a great deal of ingenuity and altruism throughout the state. 

Ognibene pointed out that the life science industry of Massachusetts has made great strides in furthering its understanding of the virus and facilitating relief efforts for those most affected by the pandemic. For example, Cambridge-based Moderna Therapeutics quickly developed a vaccine called mRNA-1273 which entered Phase 1 of its clinical trial in Seattle on March 16.  Moderna, in collaboration with the Vaccine Research Center, and has enrolled 45 individuals between 18 and 45 years of age to test the efficacy and viability of the vaccine. Although vaccine trials take time to prove that they are safe enough for widespread distribution, it is hopeful that the Moderna vaccine will show promise in the testing phase. 

The spirit of altruism within the Massachusetts community during this time has been encouraging. For example, biotech company Biogen in Cambridge has committed $10 million for relief efforts including training and food for health care professionals working so diligently throughout the crisis. Biogen’s CEO Michel Vounatsos acknowledged that supporting the front-line medical workers and other at-risk populations during is of extreme importance. Vulnerable communities are also receiving much-needed assistance via the Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund, which has an initial funding of $13 million and is currently accepting donations.  Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker has stated that the goal of the fund, which is administered by Eastern Bank, is to assist the most vulnerable members of communities within the state who have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. Ognibene notes that the fund reflects the generous and compassionate spirit of the state’s residents.