Will General Electric’s Boston Rent Be Too Damn Low?
When General Electric announced plans in January to move its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn. to Boston, there was a lot of high-fiving. GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh all heralded the turn of events as a win-win-win—meaning good for GE, good for Boston, good for Massachusetts.
There were some rumblings about GE (GE) not having been a great corporate citizen in other locales, and cynics pointed out that only approximately 800 people (out of a total headcount of 333,000) work at corporate headquarters.
Still, GE, which is trying to refashion itself as a high-tech power, would undoubtedly draw partners, customers, and would-be partners and customers to Boston for training, meet-and-greets, and potentially much more.
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Now that GE has agreed to buy a 2.5-acre parcel of land in Fort Point Channel, real estate adjacent to Boston’s Seaport tech hotbed there is more grumbling about just how much of the freight the company will pay and how much will be footed by the state and city—aka the public.
Plans call for GE to rehab two existing brick buildings and build another structure on the site. Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi reported that the Boston Redevelopment Authority may take ownership of the older buildings to facilitate development, citing John Barros, who heads that agency.
From the Boston Globe:
Once that happens, a provision tucked into the city and state’s agreement with General Electric clicks in. It states that if GE “occupies any properties owned or leased by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, for a lease term up to 20 years, the Company shall be responsible for only annual operating expenses, property taxes not abated . . . and interior renovations costs.”
Missing from that list of expenses, as Vennochi points out, is the word “rent.” This in a city where residential and commercial rates are sky high.
Plans also call for the state to chip in $5 million to build an “innovation center” to ease collaboration with research institutions.
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Fortune reached out to GE and the BRA for comment and will update this story as needed, but a source close to the deal who requested anonymity said many of the details, including the $145 million in previously disclosed city-and-state incentives, are still subject to negotiation.