State turns profit on GE HQ sale

Maybe less is more in Fort Point.

Since announcing it would move to Boston in 2016, General Electric has scaled down the scope of its business, and on Thursday it sold off a 2.7-acre Boston property once slated to be part of the company’s headquarters.

The company will have a more modest presence than the 800-job headquarters complex outlined by the manufacturing and technology juggernaut three years ago, but the sale was profitable, the state recouped its investment, and GE is still establishing its headquarters in Boston.

The buyer is a team-up between National Development, a local outfit, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities, which has a track record of catering to life sciences businesses.

Catherine Carlock, the real estate editor of the Boston Business Journal, broke the story, noting that Alexandria has 4.5 million square feet of property in Greater Boston.

Jon Chesto, at the Boston Globe, spoke to Jay Ash, who helped broker the company’s move from Connecticut to Boston when he was Gov. Charlie Baker’s economic development chief, and Ash had a positive spin on the sale.

“In this case, the state is making money on its investment, and getting the GE headquarters at the same time,” said Ash, who now heads up the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.

After the deal to bring GE to Boston was announced, there was criticism of the financial favors from the city and state as well an outcry over the promised support for a helipad that would enable GE executives to soar above the region’s transportation messes. The company has since tempered its enthusiasm for a helipad, and the deal that closed Thursday could quell Bostonians’ concerns about public dollars going to help a company that has gone years without owing federal income taxes. GE has a more sullied reputation in the Berkshires, where it polluted the Housatonic River near its old plant in Pittsfield.

MassDevelopment is making back the $87 million it spent on the property – which the Baker administration had said would be a value-add with or without GE – plus $11 million in profit. According to the Globe, GE had not tapped into the $25 million in tax breaks offered by the city of Boston and they don’t carry over to the next owner. The site that sold for $252 million is primed for development with 297,000 square feet of office space permitted.

Given all the congratulations bestowed on Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for wooing the company years ago, they might feel a little sheepish seeing their prize so diminished in stature.

Walsh has already endured some public ridicule for his track record of backing big endeavors that subsequently slip out of his grasp.

GE investors, who met for an annual meeting the day before the real estate news broke, sounded pleased by the company’s new direction under CEO Larry Culp, according to Bloomberg columnist Brooke Sutherland. Sutherland credited Culp with filling the company’s coffers with money from the sale of pieces of the business, but the column reported that GE still expects negative cash flow this year.

ANDY METZGER


BEACON HILL

A Globe editorial lauds the Senate Ways and Means Committee budget proposal, and says the big down payment it would make on needed new funding for struggling school districts makes the threat of a lawsuit from three Gateway Cities “premature.”

A state regulator closes the so-called “union loophole” in campaign financing. (State House News)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

New Bedford City Councilors say they are opposed to the waste, recycling, trash, and sludge facility currently being proposed by Parallel Products of New England, mentioning concerns about possible smell and noise. (Standard Times)

After failing to enact housing-friendly zoning changes last winter, Salem officials are making another go at it. (Salem News)

Haverhill won designation as a housing choice community, which allows the city to tap into state funding for economic development. (Eagle-Tribune)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The White House welcomed the “World Cup champion” “Red Socks” yesterday, though without their manager and all but one of the team’s minority players. “On the steps behind Trump, the 2018 Sox looked somewhat like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” says Dan Shaughnessy. (Boston Globe) The Washington Post has a deep dive on how Trump has turned once routine photo-op visits into highly charged controversies.The Red Sox website features an antiseptic write-up from MLB.com that makes no mention of the racial divide and controversy that attended the visit.

ELECTIONS

Elizabeth Warren is not getting a big home state bump when it comes to fundraising, as Bay State Dems cast their gaze — and dollars — across the huge presidential field. (Boston Globe)

Joe Battenfeld says Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is vulnerable to being “Capuanoed” by City Councilor Michelle Wu in the 2021 mayoral race. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Boston Beer Co., maker of Sam Adams, merges with Delaware-based Dogfish Head Brewery in a deal valued at $300 million. Dogfish employees will now become employees of Boston Beer but the breweries aren’t moving. (MassLive).

EDUCATION

A group calling itself the Massachusetts Education Equity Partnership calls for more money for municipal schools along with new standards for how the money should be used and greater transparency on the outcomes. (CommonWealth)

Worcester schools superintendent Maureen Binienda gets a new three-year contract on a 5-2 vote. (Telegram & Gazette)

Jorge Domínguez, who was a tenured political science professor, has been barred from Harvard University after an investigation into decades of sexual harassment by the academic. (WBUR)

TRANSPORTATION

Jim Aloisi issues a few thank yous — to Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and the members of the Fiscal and Management Control Board. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Charlie Harak and Jenifer Bosco of the National Consumer Law Center accuses the Department of Public Utilities of failing to protect consumers from competitive electricity suppliers. (CommonWealth)

Nomans Land Island, which lies just off Martha’s Vineyeard and is closed to the public because of unexploded ordnance, will be home to 13 New England cottontails, a population that researchers hope will grow to 500 in a few years. (WGBH)

CASINOS

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox tells financial analysts that the company’s Everett casino may open one or two weeks late and that he is considering an appeal of some of the secondary conditions in the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s recent suitability approval. (CommonWealth)

A day after President Donald Trump lambasted federal legislation that would save the Mashpee Wampanoag’s casino plans, Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell released a statement. “H.R. 312 is a deeply honorable legislative effort … to correct the significant wrongs that have been perpetrated against our tribe over the years, and to ensure that our people have a chance to be self-sufficient.” (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Worcester man beaten by police officers after a 2016 high-speed chase from Holden to New Hampshire files suit in federal court. (MassLive)

ICE says the man accused of killing his wife last weekend while their two children were inside their Stoughton home is in the country illegally. (Brockton Enterprise)

MEDIA

For the third straight quarter, the New York Times adds more than 200,000 subscribers. (CNN)