Vertex victory triggers big HQ move as Biogen ponders the future

Vertex's big win at the FDA yesterday was a cause for jubilation among a host of Boston real estate developers. Now that the blockbuster Incivek approval is a reality, they're preparing to unleash the heavy equipment needed to begin construction of an $800 million gleaming palace slated to become the waterfront workplace for 1,500 Vertex employees. Many of those workers will be moving in from Cambridge, and Boston dealmakers are clearly hoping that more biotechs can be persuaded to follow.

"This will open a whole new pathway for the city's growth,'' Bill Motely, a managing director for Jones Lang LaSalle, tells the Boston Globe. "Pharmaceutical companies like to be located near each other, so this is going to bring a lot of new people and further demand for services.''

"For a lot of the smaller scale start-ups, bringing Vertex here confirms what they already know: that this is an area for growth, not just for Boston but for the entire region," offers developer Joe Fallon.

With its stellar scientific community and deep biotech roots, Cambridge, MA has long been one of the most vibrant hubs in the global drug development business--a cause of much envy for developers both in the state as well as outside it. Looking for cheaper digs, a number of biotechs moved to the burbs. But while many places may be cheaper to operate in, Cambridge has a unique appeal for those who love the ambience of the place. Just days ago Biogen Idec George Scangos caused quite a buzz after he was quoted on how uncomfortable he felt in the sleek corridors of the big biotech's headquarters in Weston.

One source told the hometown newspaper that Biogen is considering building two new buildings of its own in Kendall Square. That would erase their current problem: busing workers between Weston and its Cambridge R&D ops. It would also get Scangos closer to the R&D side of things, where he feels quite comfortable.

- here's the Boston Globe story on Vertex's development
- read the Globe piece on Biogen Idec