CBRE/New England recently hosted a panel discussing General Electric’s decision-making process behind its relocation to Boston. The event was held at The Fallon Company’s newly constructed 100 Northern Avenue and the panelists were GE’s Ann Klee, Vice President, Boston Development and Operations, CBRE’s Brent Woodruff, Executive Vice President within the Global Workplace Solutions group, Gensler’s Doug Gensler, Managing Director, Principal and CBRE/NE’s Andy Hoar as moderator.
Ann Klee discussed the comprehensive decision-making process for the evaluation of a potential headquarters relocation. Her internal team created a set of 85 criteria used to thoroughly evaluate options, in addition to the analysis separately conducted by the CBRE team led by Woodruff, Hoar and Bill Crean. Early in the process, Woodruff brought in CBRE’s Labor Analytics Group, providing data and insight to help narrow the initial list of 40 markets down to eight. Presentations by city officials and market tours helped to further narrow down the selection pool. Meanwhile, Klee and her team always referred back to their original criteria list—a practice Klee stated was critical in making objective evaluations.
Klee also described the impact the company’s recent rebranding had on the process. To truly change perception and reflect GE’s new ‘digital industrial’ moniker, Klee explained that it became clear that a physical move would have the greatest effect on workplace culture. They wanted not only a location that would foster talent recruitment, but also a site that embodied the convergence of old and new, to reflect the new direction of the company. Klee recalled seeing the chosen site for the first time, and how the combination of the existing brick-and-beam warehouses with space for new construction was immediately appealing to her team. With a site chosen, GE is now working with an ambitious timeline for permitting and construction. Klee noted that establishing good working relationships with city and state officials early in the process was pivotal.
I remember our team standing on the top floor of the Federal Reserve, watching people pour out of South Station over the Summer Street bridge. You could feel the energy in the Fort Point neighborhood. – Ann Klee
Next, Doug Gensler went into detail about the thought process behind the design of the site. He described the importance of creating flows that would connect the different functions, as well as building a ground-floor destination for the neighborhood. The campus aims to foster collaboration and innovation throughout the community.
The program concluded with a question and answer period with the audience. CBRE/NE was honored to host such an informative and engaging event, but more importantly we are honored to have had the opportunity to work with the GE team.