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Houghton Mifflin leaving Back Bay for Financial District

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will write its next chapter in the Financial District instead of the Back Bay.

The publishing company has signed a 16-year lease to occupy 162,000 square feet at 125 High St., taking over the entire fifth through eighth floors in the building.

A lease of this size would make it one of the biggest office deals in Boston this year. It also represents another example of how the makeup of the Financial District is changing: More media and digital technology companies — HMH, with its digital push under chief executive Linda Zecher, now fits comfortably in both categories — are packing into spaces that had once been the domain of lawyers and bankers.


The company is expected to relocate from its existing headquarters — 180,000 square feet at 222 Berkeley St. — by early 2017. HMH had been at that location since 1993. Gil Dailey of Cushman & Wakefield represented HMH in the negotiations.

A spokeswoman for HMH said the company picked 125 High St., a building owned by Tishman Speyer, because of its proximity to services and transit links, including South Station.

About 685 HMH employees — including workers from the recently acquired Educational Technology and Services division of Scholastic — will make the move, according to the spokeswoman. The company employs about 4,100 people worldwide.

The move to High Street does bring the company closer to its geographic roots: Its founding can be traced to a small publishing business at a bookstore at the corner of Washington and School streets in Downtown Crossing, more than 180 years ago.

Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

Because of incorrect information supplied to the Globe, an earlier version of this story misstated the year Houghton Mifflin Harcourt moved to 222 Berkeley St. It was 1993.