Converse Inc. will lease office space on a wharf next to the TD Boston Garden and move its headquarters from North Andover to the redeveloped building in 2015, Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced on Tuesday.
The aging brick building near the North End currently has sagging wooden docks, which are falling into the water outside the locks of the Charles River. Menino said the new development would serve as an extension to the Harbor Walk along the city’s waterfront.
“This project is really going to reintegrate that part of the city, building new connections along the waterfront,” Menino said. He said, “Just think about the open space we’re going to create there. Today you’re afraid to walk near it, because it’s a building that really needs a lot of repair.”
Converse will lease 187,000 square feet as part of the new $230 million redevelopment of Lovejoy Wharf in the Bulfinch Triangle. The construction is expected to create more than 300 jobs, and the development will create 350 to 450 new jobs, Menino said.
As part of the development, Boston will provide $9.9 million in property tax relief over 25 years, and the developers – Beal Companies and The Related Companies – will invest $15 million in public infrastructure, according to a press release. Boston officials expect the redevelopment to bring in $63.3 million in new revenue to the city over 25 years, and said that the aging shell currently generates $388,000 in annual property taxes. The plan includes open waterfront, floating docks and public water transportation facilities.
The move will end a 10-year relationship between Converse and North Andover, and make Boston a two-sneaker town. New Balance has its headquarters in Brighton.
“We’ve had a great 10 years up there. We’ll be up there for a couple of years,” said Converse CEO Jim Calhoun. “This wasn’t a decision about leaving any place; it was a decision about, when we looked around as you do when a lease is up, and you assess what’s best for your company in terms of growing in the future. We looked at potentially staying. We looked at other properties up in that area.”
Menino, who said Boston and Converse are a “great fit,” said the city’s walkability, access to public transit, restaurants, as well as an educated workforce were a draw for the shoe-maker, which will not conduct any manufacturing on the site.
“They say that wearing converse makes a statement about a person,” Menino said. “Well I believe Converse moving to Boston makes a statement about the city of Boston. It says that Boston has a talented, dynamic workforce that companies want.”
Though the site will be a short walk from the home court of the Boston Celtics, Calhoun said Converse, maker of iconic canvas high-tops called Chuck Taylors or All Stars, would leave the basketball shoes to its parent company, Nike.
The press conference was held in a first-floor room of the city-owned Parkman House, where Menino is recuperating from a series of ailments. The room was decked with a green Converse banner and decorated with green Converse All Stars adorned with Boston’s skyline and the city’s name along the side.
Menino, who said he has Converse shoes at his home, was given a pair of the commemorative sneakers and said, “Thank you. I hope they’re nine and half wide.”