Boston-bound Vertex breaks ground on Fan Pier HQ
The Fallon Co. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals threw a lavish ground-breaking party on Fan Pier today for the largest commercial lease in the city’s history that promises 500 new biotech jobs.
The ceremony marked the beginning of construction of Vertex’s new headquarters, as part of Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Innovation District, after years of starts and stops on the parcel of land in South Boston.
“You know why I’m singing?” Menino asked the crowd. “You weren’t here in 2005, ‘04, ‘03, ‘02.”
Developer Joe Fallon compared the project to the Prudential Center if it only had one tenant, and said he’d be bringing cliff diving from the roof of the nearby Institute for Contemporary Art to the public in August.
“The reason we’re bringing cliff diving is if we weren’t getting going, I was going to jump,” he said.
Officials and VIPs handled about two dozen shovels for the ceremony that featured about 250 invited guests, multiple tents, ice sculptures and a lunch reception.
As the shoveling began, giant renderings of the $800 million project unfurled from the tent’s ceiling, smoke shot from the top of the stage, and enough confetti shot from cannons at the four corners of the tent to completely obscure the shovelers.
The ground breakers included Fallon, Vertex CEO Matthew Emmens, Menino, Patrick, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center CEO Susan Windham-Bannister, and state Sen. Jack Hart (D-South Boston).
“We like biomarkers, but the marker for these things is the number of shovels — you will never again see this many shovels,” said Emmens.
Vertex, which currently employs 1,300 people in Massachusetts, expects to hire 500 workers at the site in the next five years, Emmens said.
The company, which is relocating its headquarters from Cambridge, finalized a long-term lease with Fallon for 1.1 million square feet of office and lab space after winning federal regulatory approval for its potential blockbuster hepatitis C drug Incivek last month.
Vertex expects to move into its two new 18-story buildings — 50 Northern Ave. and 11 Fan Pier Blvd. — in late 2013.
The state chipped in $10 million in tax breaks to Vertex and $50 million to pay for roads and other infrastructure for the Fan Pier project, while the city of Boston granted a $12 million tax break for Vertex.
Fan Pier covers nine city blocks on 21 acres of South Boston’s waterfront. Already constructed are the One Marina Park Drive office building and Louis luxury retail store.
Fallon’s financial partners are MassMutual and Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers.
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