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Suffolk Construction moving to South Boston

Announces plans to make new headquarters in South Boston Innovation District

Suffolk Construction Co., one of Boston’s biggest and busiest contractors, is proposing to build a new national headquarters in the South Boston Innovation District, joining a rapid influx of major companies into the area.

Chief executive John Fish said Tuesday that he is planning construction of a 125,000-square-foot building along Harbor Street in the Marine Industrial Park. The new building, for about 450 employees, would allow the company to consolidate its Roxbury and Danvers offices at a single facility.

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“This location speaks to where Boston is going, not where it is today,” Fish said Tuesday. “We appreciate the vibrancy and overall energy of the Innovation District, and we think it’s only going to get stronger.”

Suffolk still needs approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority and other city agencies. Fish said he has held preliminary discussions with BRA officials and expects to file more detailed documents outlining his proposal soon. He hopes to start construction by next spring.

The construction firm, which is building several residential and office towers in the Innovation District, is the latest in a long line of businesses to announce plans to move there. The district seems to attract a new headline company every day. On Tuesday, PricewaterhouseCoopers said it will move into a 17-story tower to be built on Seaport Boulevard, joining incoming firms such as Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., State Street Corp., Zipcar Inc., and the branding and apparel company Life is good.

While Suffolk is a major gain for the Innovation District, it is a significant loss for Roxbury, where the company has operated for years out of a building on Allerton Street. Fish said the company will retain ownership of the Allerton Street building and lease it to new tenants.

Suffolk, one of the nation’s largest privately held contractors, has expanded rapidly in recent years, acquiring a string of competitors in Boston and other markets. In 2009, it acquired William A. Berry and Son, one of the Boston area’s oldest, most respected builders. It has also snapped up large contractors in Virginia and San Diego.

Suffolk Construct- ion, one of the nation’s largest privately held contractors, has expanded rapidly in recent years.

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While known as a politically connected powerhouse in Boston, Suffolk has offices and major projects in cities across the country. In recent years, it has built major residential and commercial projects in Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Miami, among many other communities. In Boston, it is building a half-dozen residential towers in the Innovation District, Downtown Crossing, and the West End, along with a new office building and parking garage for State Street Corp. in Fort Point.

Fish said he expects Suffolk to record $2.1 billion in revenue this year.

He said the design of the new headquarters in the Innovation District is still under discussion, although he expects it will be glass and stainless steel, striking a more modern tone than some of the older industrial buildings in the area.

“We think we can build something special, but we still have to go through the city’s [review] process,” Fish said. “All the financing is ready to go. We just want to be sure we do this thoughtfully.”

The Marine Industrial Park is seen as the next logical extension of the redevelopment that has been sweeping through the rest of the waterfront in recent years. Jamestown Properties, an Atlanta-based real estate firm, recently bought the Boston Design Center and the adjacent Bronstein Center, and several other firms are proposing new commercial and residential buildings in the area.

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