GE Scales Back Plans for New HQ in Boston

The downsizing from a 12-story tower to two renovated warehouses marks another retreat from the ambitions of former CEO Jeff Immelt.
Matthew HellerFebruary 15, 2019
GE Scales Back Plans for New HQ in Boston

In another retreat from the vision of former CEO Jeff Immelt, General Electric has decided not to build a 12-story headquarters office tower on the Boston waterfront.

The company is still planning to move its headquarters from suburban Connecticut but will now only house its senior executive team and about 250 employees in two renovated brick warehouses along Fort Point Channel rather than 800 in the $200-million tower that Immelt once envisioned.

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GE will also return $87 million in incentives to the state of Massachusetts.

“The downsizing of GE’s ambitions is a sign of the efforts being made by Larry Culp, the new chief executive who took over last October, to cut costs to strengthen GE’s weak financial position,” The Financial Times said.

The move to Boston was announced in 2016, with the planned complex including a ground-floor museum to display GE’s long history. Immelt decided to relocate after Connecticut raised taxes on business, saying the company wanted to be “at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations.”

But since Immelt retired in October 2017, GE has sold or restructured some of the operations that would have had staff at the new site as part of the embattled conglomerate’s turnaround plan.

“While changes in the company’s portfolio and operating model will lead to a smaller corporate headquarters, we are fully committed to Boston and proud to call it home,” Ann Klee, head of Fort Point development for GE, said in a statement.

The tower was originally scheduled to open this year, but as the FT reports, “that was put back to 2021 as the financial pressures on GE mounted, and construction work has not yet started.”

A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the administration looks forward to GE’s “ongoing contribution to the growing innovation economy” and to “working with GE as the company grows its world headquarters here in Boston.”

After Culp took over from John Flannery, analysts predicted he would scale down the headquarters from Immelt’s vision.