You may have noticed a big change to the building at the heart of the Centre/South district: Prudential Unlimited Realty is now Unlimited Sotheby's International Realty.
The change became official Oct. 1. A new affiliation has been in the works since Prudential sold off its real estate arm more than three years ago. As those agreements expired, real estate companies had to shop for new affiliations.
Jon Ufland, principal and managing broker at what is now Sotheby's, said the new partnership made sense after looking at several options. Sotheby's did not have an affiliate in either Brookline or JP, the two places where Ufland's firm has offices.
"We thought it was a good fit for Brookline and a good fit for JP," Ufland said.
This brings the number of independently owned and affiliated Sotheby's offices in the Bay State to 33, according to the Boston Business Journal.
For customers, not much will change, Ufland said. About 60 percent of the realty's agents live in JP, Ufland said. All their agents work full-time and some have been with the company for 15 years.
But while the firm plans to keep it business-as-usual for clients and its own agents, you've probably noticed big physical changes to the company's 673 Centre St. office.
During the last two or three years as it was clear some sort of transition away from the Prudential brand would be coming, Ufland said the realty held off enhancements to their storefront. But with the name change official, much of the new look is in place: A fresh blue awning, a "blade" style sign to replace the electronic clock and a new sign. Further enhancements to what you see in the windows as you walk past are also in the works.
The clock, although a well-known part of JP's streetscape, hasn't worked in years.
"It's a huge change," said Andrew Zarro, the now-departed executive director of Centre/South Main Streets, a business and neighborhood development organization. "It's a company that does have a strong tie to the arts but also is very community-oriented."
Ufland said Sotheby's would continue Prudential Realty's role as a major sponsor of First Thursday Art Walk.
The new awning and signage signal a direction for design for the whole Centre/South district, Zarro said.
In time the parapet atop the building will also be removed, Ufland said. That's the arch-shaped section that juts out above the roof line.
Ufland said business has been growing. Sales volume generated by the 20 agents in the JP office is up 73 percent, to $77 million a year, since he became managing broker five years ago. And that doesn't count revenue from the company's expanding rental unit.
Ufland's company rents the Centre Street space from Charles Hajjar. Ufland declined to say how much Sotheby's pays for rent.
[Editor's note: The original posting gave the wrong name for the landlord of 673 Centre St.]