Vertex Envisions a Single Massachusetts Campus and a Bold Future

Xconomy Boston — 

Vertex Pharmaceuticals isn’t going to move its labs and offices anywhere, at least in the near future. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech company has extended leases at two main buildings in Cambridge until 2015.

The leases will keep Vertex’s headquarters at 130 Waverly Street, and in other space at 200 Sidney Street through 2015, according to a statement today from Vertex’s landlord, Biomed Realty Trust (NYSE: BMR).

Vertex (NASDAQ: VRTX) has grown to about 1,300 employees spread among nine buildings in Cambridge, plus 200 more employees in San Diego and a small group in the United Kingdom, says company spokesman Zach Barber. About 80 percent of its square footage is now leased through 2015 or beyond, he says.

Even though the leases are in place for six years, Vertex will keep its eyes out for real estate opportunities. “Our long-term goal is to consolidate all of our employees into one campus,” Barber says. That applies to the workers spread among nine buildings in Cambridge, not the employees in San Diego or the U.K., he added.

If Vertex’s ongoing clinical trials pan out, it will get quite a bit bigger before the leases expire. Vertex doesn’t have any major moneymaking product on the market yet, but it is in the final stage of development with a hepatitis C drug, telaprevir, that could generate $2.6 billion in U.S. sales in 2013, says Rachel McMinn, an analyst with Cowen & Co.

The company clearly has a bold vision. This week at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Vertex CEO Josh Boger’s presentation featured slides that likened his company’s ongoing efforts to the trailblazing work by Genentech in the 1970s that led to the first genetically engineered medicines, and work by Gilead Sciences in the early 1990s that created HIV treatments that made it possible for patients to take one or two pills a day, instead of 15. Boger’s slides were even accompanied by some of the disco and grunge hits that were popular when those advances were being made—the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” from the ’70s and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from the ’90s. No word yet on the anthem that will symbolize Vertex’s hopes for growth in the decade to come.