Residents, business owners and union members came before City Council Monday to show support for a special permit request that would allow new office buildings on Wyman Street for future tenant Vistaprint.
Developers from 275 Wyman Street LLC, a subgroup of Hobbs Brook Management LLC, are petitioning the city for a special permit that would allow them to increase the Floor Area Ration (FAR) so developers can build taller buildings at 275 Wyman St. The new buildings would be contracted to Vistaprint as its new North American headquarters.
Currently, Vistaprint runs its operations of providing individuals and businesses with promotional material out of Lexington, but is looking to move to Waltham. Tom Dusel, president of Hobbs Brook Management, said the development could be key for the city.
“We are here tonight for something that I think is going to be good for us, but I think this is going to be good for the city of Waltham,” Dusel told city councilors. “It will be a project that defines Hobbs Brook’s office park and if we’re successful – and we’re not taking anything for granted – I think this is one of those projects that could define Waltham.”
Hobbs Brook Management owns 13 properties in Waltham – 23 in the state – and is the city’s second largest taxpaying company after Boston Properties. Vistaprint’s Chief Accounting Officer Michael Greiner gave the city councilors an overview of what the company did and told them why he thought Waltham would be a perfect fit for Vistaprint.
“We needed to expand and we’ve had a good stay in Lexington … [but] we’ve grown out of our existing space,” Greiner said. “Waltham is a great location and I think it’s located with access to hotels and restaurants and everything else that creates a unique environment that Lexington just didn’t have.”
The new structure at Wyman Street would be about 300,000 square feet and is on about 87 acres of land. Attorney Bob Connors, representing the petitioners, told councilors it was time to build new buildings before tenants went elsewhere with their business.
“The petitioner has been here for over 60 years. They’ve had office buildings here that have started off as Class A and have been the leaders on [Route] 128 with their buildings and the way that they treat those buildings,” Connors said. “Now what they’re doing is they’re losing tenants and Waltham is losing tenants to other communities. So they’re hoping by this application for a special permit that the council take that into consideration and they will be able to go back up there and redevelop the property.”
Forty-five people stood and were recognized in support of the petition including representatives from the Lions Club, YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club, as well as neighbors, union members and others. Laborer’s Union Local 560 business manager Paul Pavone spoke in full support of the petitioner.
“I represent five hundred members and we are in favor of this developer,” Pavone said. “If I had more managers like Hobbs Brook, my job would be a lot easier. We have a commitment from them already that they will hire responsible contractors to do this work.”
Connors indicated to the council that they would begin construction as soon as the special permit was granted – if granted – and Greiner said they would move into the facilities quickly after the buildings were constructed, as the company is outgrowing its space. Greiner said a couple months ago that they were aiming for 2015.
The matter was referred to the Ordinance and Rules Committee.