A new corporate name will soon grace Boston’s skyline: private equity giant HarbourVest Partners.
Fast-growing HarbourVest has signed a long-term lease for 11 floors at One Lincoln, the two-decade-old tower at the edge of Chinatown and the Financial District, a few blocks from South Station. As part of the lease agreement, HarbourVest will gain signage rights for the top of the 36-story tower as State Street Corp. departs next year for the newly built One Congress tower between City Hall and North Station.
The leasing deal — one of downtown’s largest in the past two years — represents a huge vote of confidence in the future of Boston’s central business district at a time when the prevalence of remote work continues to leave many offices and storefronts vacant.
HarbourVest is leasing 250,000 square feet, with a move-in date planned for mid-2025 — nearly double what the firm occupies today at the One Financial Center tower less than two blocks away. HarbourVest has grown its local workforce by 60 percent during the last three years, to roughly 700 people today, and its global workforce just passed 1,000 this summer.
John Toomey, managing director of HarbourVest, said his company is taking a hybrid approach with bringing people back to the office: Some will be in-person five days a week, others will come in for three or four days, while some might just come in once or twice a week.
But Toomey stressed the importance of having people in the same space together, to reinforce “the cultural glue” of the company. Employees started returning in January, he said, with a significant uptick in numbers since Labor Day.
“There’s a creativity, there’s a spontaneous element to it, where every interaction isn’t scheduled [ahead of time],” Toomey said.
HarbourVest will occupy the top four floors of the building as well as seven others. Jonathan Landau, chief executive of landlord Fortis Property Group, said WeWork, the tower’s second biggest tenant, is giving up two of its 11 floors in the building to make way for HarbourVest.
Still, Landau and his company, the managing member of the tower’s ownership group, will seek to fill as much as 500,000 square feet in the 1.1 million square foot building to make up for the pending exits of State Street and law firm K&L Gates (which is also headed to One Congress). Landau said he’s confident that Fortis can fill up most of that space, in part because of the significant upgrades planned for the building, particularly with regard to amenities.
The announcement of the HarbourVest lease, which was brokered by Gilbert Dailey and David Martel of Newmark Group, coincides with a $1 billion refinancing that Fortis just completed for the One Lincoln tower. Landau said some of the proceeds from that refinancing will help support nearly $250 million in leasing costs and capital upgrades for the tower, which opened in 2003, over the next two years.
Major upgrades include a food market and restaurants on the ground floor with outdoor dining, a fitness center with a boxing ring, a 15,000-square-foot shared events space, and a rooftop basketball/tennis court on the 8th floor.
“The office world has changed,” Landau said. “People don’t want to just come to the office, work at a desk, and go home. There’s an experiential requirement today.”
Landau credited Mayor Michelle Wu’s administration for helping with the necessary approvals for the new tower signage on HarbourVest’s behalf.
“The mayor was instrumental in kicking this into full gear by getting that approved, or helping that be approved,” Landau said. “That definitely was the coup de grace to get the deal done.”