The elements along Fort Point’s A Street corridor can basically be divided into three categories: brick warehouse buldings, a sprawling razor-blade factory, and parking lots.
General Electric Co. plans to add a new kind of architecture to the mix: a futuristic corporate headquarters. The groundbreaking will take place May 8 for the unusual structure, which will be topped off with a solar panel system resembling a giant sail.
GE chief executive Jeff Immelt, Governor Charlie Baker, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh are expected to attend the ceremony, according to GE spokeswoman Susan Bishop, along with other state, city, and company officials.
GE relocated its corporate office to Farnsworth Street from Fairfield, Conn., last summer. But that move is meant to be temporary while the company builds a nearly 390,000-square-foot, three-building campus off Necco Court, a block from A Street. The $200 million project will represent a marriage of the old and new: Two existing brick buildings will be retrofitted and connected to the new 12-story headquarters.
MassDevelopment, a quasi-public state agency, will own the two older buildings — renovated with millions of dollars in state funds — while GE will own the new one. Some interior work, such as asbestos and lead abatement, has already begun in the vacant brick warehouses. GE is awaiting a state tidelands permit and city building permits before Suffolk Construction, the general contractor, can start work on the new building.
Bishop said renovations to the two older buildings are expected to be completed by mid-2018 and the new structure should be finished by early 2019.
About 200 people work in GE’s headquarters today, but that will grow to about 300 by October as the company brings a team of software engineers and other GE Digital employees on board. Another 50 people work for GE’s Current energy division in a nearby office.
All those jobs will move to the new headquarters. By the time the third building opens, Bishop said, about 400 employees will be there. Eventually, GE will increase that to 800. The company will receive up to $25 million in property tax relief over 20 years, but some of that would be lost if GE doesn’t meet its hiring targets.
GE is using a piece of the vast parking lot between A Street and Fort Point Channel for the project.
“It’s going to be a striking piece of architecture,” said Valerie Burns, a Fort Point resident. “There’s nothing like it in the neighborhood. . . . The neighborhood has always looked forward to when those parking lots would be succeeded by residential or commercial buildings.”