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Quest Diagnostics to open new facility in Marlborough

In a major boost to the suburban Boston real estate market, Quest Diagnostics Inc. has agreed to move into the former Hewlett-Packard office complex in Marlborough, moving more than 950 jobs to the city, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

The New Jersey-based provider of medical testing services will spend more than $64 million to create a Northeast laboratory facility on the former Hewlett-Packard site, which has been vacant for more than two years, according to the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly because the deal has not been publicly announced.

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Quest’s move will bring another major employer to Marlborough, which also stands to benefit from a planned office relocation by TJX Cos. The discount retail giant is moving hundreds of employees to a complex formerly occupied by Fidelity Investments on Puritan Way. The two deals will fill major vacancies in the city’s office market and lift the sagging Interstate 495 real estate market.

Quest currently operates laboratory facilities in several locations in Massachusetts, but it is not clear whether those facilities will remain open or be closed to move employees to Marlborough.

It will lease 200,000 square feet at Hewlett-Packard’s former building at 200 Forest St. The complex includes more than 535,000 square feet of total space, so a portion will remain vacant for now.

Marlborough officials will provide the company with a tax break on the cost of the improvements it will make on the Forest Street property over a 15-year period. The exact dollar amount of the tax deal has not been decided.

A Quest spokeswoman confirmed that the company has signed a non-binding letter of intent to lease the Forest Street property. If the deal is finalized, it will take 18 to 24 months to develop the new laboratory complex.

The company, among the world’s leading providers of medical testing services and information, has also been pursuing tax incentives from the state’s Life Sciences Center, which offers tax deals to support job creation in Massachusetts. In addition to the roughly 950 employees Quest intends to move to Marlborough, it is also seeking to hire more than 240 employees in coming years.

Fore the first nine months of 2012, Quest has recorded more than $5.7 billion in revenues, a 1.1 percent increase over the same period in 2011, according to its most recent financial filings.

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.
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