EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 9, 2013

Converse will leave in 2015

By Paul Tennant
ptennant@eagletribune.com

---- — NORTH ANDOVER — Boston’s gain is North Andover’s loss.

Converse, a well-known athletic shoe manufacturer, has announced it will move its corporate headquarters from North Andover to Boston in April 2015. The new headquarters will be on a wharf that’s next to TD Boston Garden.

”No layoffs are planned,” Converse spokeswoman Melissa Garbayo told The Eagle-Tribune yesterday. The current headquarters, located in a rehabilitated mill building at 1 High St., employs about 400 workers, Garbayo said. The company leases the site from Schneider Electric, which is at the other side of the complex.

Town Manager Andrew Maylor said the High Street property, originally constructed to house the Davis & Furber textile company, is “critical space for North Andover.”

Maylor said he and Community Development Director Curt Bellevance will “offer our assistance” to the owner of the property to bring in a new tenant. The entire property, including Schneider Electric and Converse, is valued at $24.6 million by the assessors’ office.

Mansur Investments of Indianapolis is the owner.

“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.”

While Maylor, Bellevance and other North Andover officials are trying to figure out how to bring another company to 1 High St., an exultant Boston Mayor Thomas Menino announced yesterday Converse’s move to his city.

During a press conference at the Parkman House, Menino said Converse plans to lease new office space in the redeveloped Lovejoy Wharf in Bulfinch Triangle. The wharf is now occupied by two dilapidated buildings.

Menino’s administration estimates the redevelopment costs at $230 million. The Boston Redevelopment Authority in December approved office and residential redevelopment plans submitted by the Beal Companies and The Related Companies.

Menino said the developers plan to invest $15 million in public infrastructure, including open space around the wharf. The city will provide $9.9 million in real estate tax relief over the next 25 years.

Converse plans to lease space in a rehabilitated nine-story building at 160 North Washington St. while the structure at 131 Beverly St. will be demolished. A 14-story residential building with 100 homes will be erected in its place.

Converse, a subsidiary of Nike, was founded in Malden in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse.