bostontrainguy wrote:"Just for clarity sake:
Houghton Chemical will NOT be moving from its' current site in Allston and has no plans to in the future. This is a cooperative arrangement negotiated between Harvard, Houghton and CSX. Houghton Chemical will relinquish its' rights to the rail spur in two years, not now. Harvard has been gratuitous in their willingness to support the replacement of Houghton's rail capability with a confidential financial support"
What the hell does that mean? I am rather confused.
Negotiations on a rail-accessible relocation in Greater Boston completely fell apart, and Houghton's CEO resigned from the Beacon Park redevelopment working group because he no longer trusted Harvard's motives. So the plant property won't be exchanged for Harvard redevelopment and they won't be setting up shop somewhere else across town. CEO blames Harvard, City of Boston, and Boston Redevelopment Authority for not looking hard enough to find appropriate relocation sites for them near the CBD rail-accessible and near highways (e.g. South Boston/Marine Terminal, Charlestown/Mystic Wharf Br., East Boston Br., Everett Terminal, a trucking access-improved Readville, etc.). And that's not the first time this charge has been levied against the City/BRA (and Harvard for its vast Allston holdings) by industrial and shipping tenants under pressure to relocate in order for their land to be flipped for high-end mixed-use redev. There's ample local history fueling Houghton's skepticism of its negotiating partners.
They made a final settlement with Harvard, with Houghton agreeing to give up its rail siding in 2018 in exchange for a one-time 'hardship' compensation payout from Harvard for loss of the rail access.
The hardship payout will be used to restructure some manufacturing operations around other rail-accessible Houghton plants (there are several, mostly Norfolk Southern-served), and to re-optimize the Allston plant's manufacturing around more truck-appropriate loading so they're not just unilaterally handicapping their margins with the loss of rail.
The Founder/CEO is a Boston native, and a lot of the longstanding staff who built the company from scratch are from Boston. He's a homebody not anywhere near retirement, and doesn't ever want to pull up stake from Boston. It's a pride and personal preference thing keeping them in Boston-proper despite the higher cost of doing manufacturing business here, and that's why every relocation proposal by Harvard to kick them out of sight into the 'burbs got shot down.
Thus, packing up and consolidating ops to the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest after the local-relocation negotiations collapsed was never a viable option to him, even though most other private companies in the same situation would've pocketed the money and left town as a business decision. It was always Boston or Bust for Houghton.
Now...what does this mean for their future in Allston? Probably means some manufacturing capacity is going to move out of Allston to other plants no matter what, since their overall mfg. costs just aren't as good sans rail to keep every mixing tank on the property chugging along at full-tilt forever. They'll probably evolve towards all executive & office staff being based here, and more and more production gradually based elsewhere. Possible endgame is they eventually pass some tipping point where they end all manufacturing ops in Allston and downsize to plain old office space with company HQ and all the white-collar execs & desk jockeys based in Boston, all mfg. jobs based at other plants.
So they'll always be headquartered here...but they may not always have manufacturing here or nearly as much manufacturing here. And any which way it evolves Allston won't be nearly as prominent a manufacturing site after the rail deliveries stop, so it's an end of an era of sorts. And a missed opportunity for Harvard/City/BRA to not have done enough due diligence on the local relocation when there are decent sites like Southie/Marine T. being built out for exactly these sorts of businesses.