The new owner of the onetime future site of General Electric’s world headquarters appears to be wasting little time turning it into something new.
Executives at Alexandria Real Estate Equities say that they aim to break ground in early 2020 on a large development on the site along Fort Point Channel that the company and a partner bought from GE in May for $252 million.
Speaking to analysts on an earnings call, Alexandria co-CEO Peter Moglia said the firm — a major Kendall Square developer that’s now moving aggressively into Fort Point and the West Broadway section of Southie — envisions a “world-class life science” development on the site. A second phase of development would eventually take place on the site of a parking garage Alexandria also owns across Necco Street.
The GE site has been dormant for almost three years, ever since the troubled company won city approvals for a 12-story, 293,000-square-foot office building that would — along with two older brick buildings next door — have served as its headquarters, complete with a prominent sign over Fort Point Channel.
Rehab of the brick buildings is almost complete, and GE plans to move in later this year. But it never launched work on the new building, amid a massive corporate restructuring, and in February put the already-permitted site up for sale. Alexandria and Newton-based National Development won a fierce bidding contest for the property, which means it will be GE’s landlord in the two brick buildings while pursuing a new building of its own on the parking lot next door.
The existing permits for the building GE planned will “expedite” development, Moglia said, “and likely put us in a position to break ground in early 2020.” But there are still some city reviews to contend with before that happens. An Alexandria spokesman said the company intends to file tweaked plans with the Boston Planning & Development Agency, likely this fall, and will redesign the building for life science tenants. That will probably trigger a new round of architectural review by the Boston Civic Design Commission.
A 2020 groundbreaking would put the project on the front end of a wave of life science development coming to the South Boston neighborhood, which several prominent builders view as an attractive alternative for companies looking for room to grow beyond Kendall Square in Cambridge.
Alexandria would then pivot to the Necco Street Garage — which it bought earlier this year for $81 million — and what Moglia suggested would be a similarly large building there. In Alexandria’s hands, he said, the two sites could eventually be home to hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.