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Posted In: News

Developers propose $100m, 315k SF Vistaprint building in Waltham

By on Nov. 05, 2013

A developer is seeking approval from the Waltham City Council to demolish a vacant office building at 275 Wyman St. and construct a new $100 million, 315,000-square-foot building for Vistaprint’s future US corporate headquarters.

Representatives from Hobbs Brook Management, LLC, a Waltham-based development company, presented the proposal to councilors last week, said Robert Connors, the company’s lawyer.

Connors said they hope to gain a special permit from City Council by the end of this year and break ground in early spring.

Tom Dusel, president of Hobbs Brook, said they aim to finish the Waltham building by mid-2015. Vistaprint has already committed to a 10-year lease starting then, he said.

Developers are meeting with the Ordinance and Rules Committee, a subgroup of the City Council, this week to begin discussing the project, Connors said.

Dusel said the project has already gained unanimous support from the city’s Traffic Commission, especially as developers agreed to pay $4.5 million out of pocket to re-synchronize traffic lights, construct sidewalks, add a bus shelter, and rework water runoff.

“We have been partnering with the city to make these improvements,” Dusel said.

Dusel said developers have not had any opposition from Waltham neighbors, as the new building will be buffered by 500 feet of land trees, blocking it from the view of any abutters.

“I would readily say we’re a good neighbor,” he said.

Vistaprint, a graphic design and printing firm, currently runs its corporate operations out of Lexington. In December 2012, the company won $350,000 in state tax credits and $1.2 million in local property tax breaks to expand its Lexington headquarters. The company promised to add 300 jobs and retain another 880.

However, the company began eying Waltham this summer after plans to expand its Lexington headquarters got tied up in litigation filed by Vistaprint’s corporate neighbor, The Beal Companies, Dusel said.

“They appealed just about every step along the way in the permitting process of that new building, which delayed it sufficiently,” Dusel said, noting that Hobbs Brooks also owns Vistaprint’s Lexington offices. “The only way to accommodate Vistaprint’s expansion plans was this new building in Waltham. We already had plans to develop that building, so it works out well for everybody.”

Officials at The Beal Companies could not be reached for comment.

Lexington Town Manager Carl Valente said Tuesday that the town was disheartened to see Vistaprint go.

“To have them in Lexington was very important to us, which is why we worked very hard to keep them here by offering them a tax incentive,” Valente said. “It’s a big loss to see such a quality company leave Lexington.”

Vistaprint’s chief accounting officer Michael Greiner also previously told the Globe that the $1.2 million relief from Lexington was not enough for the company to commit to stay in Lexington, but added a reason for the company to expand there.

However, Greiner said Tuesday that the lawsuit drove the company to leave Waltham, not a low tax break.

“That had nothing to do with us leaving Lexington,” Greiner said of the tax incentive. “It wasn’t so much that it was like, ‘Jeez, we have to stay,’ but the town did work hard to make it attractive to us. The legal obstacles just became such an unknown.”

Although the company will lose the $1.2 million tax break in Lexington and won’t be receiving any breaks in Waltham, Dusel said the Wyman Street building’s energy efficiency — he expects it to be LEED certified – will make up for the lost tax breaks.

“We’ll have the ability to control that significant cost,” he said.

The Lexington offices would be available to lease to other companies once Vistaprint moves out, Dusel said.

The building proposed for 275 Wyman St. would replace the vacant two-story, 87,000-square-foot structure there, which was built in the early 1960s, with a five-story building massing about 315,000 square feet.

The state-of-the-art offices and parking lot would take up about half of the parcel’s 7 1/2 acres; the other half of the property would be devoted to open green space, Connors said.

Greiner said the corporate branch currently employs about 900 people, but the new Waltham location could accommodate up to 1,400 — which the company hopes to see over the years.

“Over the 10-year period we’re there, I expect we will grow into that building,” Greiner said.

The property sits in the Hobbs Brook-owned office park near Rte. 128. Other nearby tenants include IBM, Raytheon, and Dassault Systemes.


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