The Watertown Arsenal has seen many changes since it first started making munitions for the U.S. Army in 1816, but the site along Arsenal Street will undergo one of its biggest transformations when athenahealth redevelops the site.
On Wednesday, athenahealth President and CEO Jonathan Bush announced plans for the site, including more retail, restaurants and office space for the company’s headquarters.
Town Council President Mark Sideris liked what he saw at the ceremony.
“It’s a vision that will transform the whole neighborhood and the whole town,” Sideris said.
Athenahealth only bought the Arsenal complex in June, but it has already been making an impact on the town. He thanked the company for sponsoring the ceremony honoring Watertown’s first responders for their efforts stopping the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects.
“We applaud athenahealth in making the investment in Watertown,” Driscoll said.
He also thanked Gov. Deval Patrick, who attended the ceremony. The state provided nearly $10 million in tax incentives to spur the redevelopment, which is expected to add 1,900 jobs at athenahealth.
The Arsenal took on the look it has now during the Civil War, when it became the center for making artillery. The site closed in the 1980s and had so much contamination it was named a Super Fund site.
John Airasian served as chairman of the Arsenal cleanup and redevelopment. The Federal government put in $100 million to clean the site, then the town bought it for $7.5 million. Airasian said.
A developer bought the complex for $23 million, put $100 million into the property and in 2002 sold the Arsenal to Harvard University for $168 million. Harvard had a 50-year agreement with the town to make payments in lieu of taxes.
Airasian said he did not expect the Arsenal to turn over so quickly. Athenahealth bought the complex from Harvard for $168 million.
“I figured Harvard would have it for the duration (of the agreement),” Airasian said. “This is exciting.”