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GE Breaks Ground On Boston Campus: 'This Isn’t Going To Be Your Grandmother’s HQ'

With hopes for a 2019 ribbon-cutting, General Electric officially broke ground Monday morning on its new, $200M headquarters in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood.

Gov. Charlie Baker, GE executive Ann Klee, ex-GE CEO Jeff Immelt and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh at the groundbreaking for GE's Boston campus

“We named this campus GE Innovation Point because this isn’t going to be your grandmother’s headquarters,” Ann Klee, GE’s vice president of Boston development and operations, said at the ceremony.

Klee was joined by GE CEO Jeff Immelt, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker at the 2.7-acre site, which will eventually house 800 employees in a 400K SF complex. GE announced in January 2016 it would move to Boston from its longtime home in Fairfield, Connecticut, after evaluating several cities for a potential relocation. After honing in on the Seaport neighborhood, the company chose the waterfront property along Fort Point Channel due to its proximity to South Station and Logan Airport

“It was love at first site,” Klee said.

Gov. Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin Walsh and GE executive Ann Klee at groundbreaking ceremony for GE's new global headquarters in Boston

Architecture firm Gensler designed the waterfront campus, which will entail the rehabilitation of older buildings as well as new construction. Consigli Construction will renovate two older warehouses where Necco originally manufactured confectioneries. Suffolk Construction will build the rest of the campus, including a 12-story glass building enveloped by a solar veil. Speakers at the groundbreaking reflected on how the development is further progress for the neighborhood from its storied past. 

“As somebody who grew up here, I used to go to a bunch of the bars that used to be located along here," Baker said. "Let me just say, Mr. Mayor, you’ve come a long way since then.

GE spent nearly $27M on land for the Fort Point campus while MassDevelopment purchased the Necco warehouses for just over $57M, which was part of the $120M state tax incentive used in attracting the company to relocate to Boston. Over the chants of protestors chiding the incentive package, Baker, a Republican, and Walsh, a Democrat, cited bipartisan collaboration as instrumental in bringing GE to Massachusetts.

Rendering of GE's future campus in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood

“This is one more step forward in the continuing evolution of Massachusetts as a global player on so many fronts,” Baker said. “In some ways, I’m most proud of the political community and policy community, being able to work together and collaborate and unite in a process and program to make it work.”

The project is projected to create 1,500 construction jobs and activate a stretch of land that has been largely kept from public use. Despite the digital industrial company now calling it home, its campus will house public space to make it more inviting to the surrounding community. Walsh cited the estimated $67M in increased tax revenue expected over the next 25 years from the company, as well as its $25M commitment to local schools, as proof it will be a quality corporate citizen.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt told the crowd at Monday's groundbreaking his company and Boston were building for the purpose of creating the future.

“From the old Edison Power Plant to the Ray Flynn Marine Industrial Park to right here in Fort Point, we are growing good jobs, good homes and great public space for years to come,” Walsh said.

As General Electric shifts its corporate culture to embrace innovation and startups, its leaders found Boston was a city that embodied its new business principles. Immelt said the decision to move came with the purpose and desire to plug into the city’s growing technology scene. 

“I really believe this town is going to be one of the most important cities in the world, and GE can be a part of that renaissance,” Immelt said.