Large Firm, Eyeing Bedford Address, Proposes Tax Incentive  

STR (Systems Technology Research), which develops innovative security technology for federal agencies, would like to move from Woburn to Bedford. Photo by Wayne Braverman

There’s a nearly-vacant office park near Bedford’s northern border with more than 300,000 square feet of space. And there’s a technology company with plans for growth that has outgrown its headquarters and is looking for 326,000 square feet.

What could possibly go wrong? 

Maybe nothing, if the town agrees to provide a break on new real estate taxes.

Representatives of STR (Systems Technology Research), which develops innovative security technology for federal agencies, met with the Select Board on Monday to explore relocating its corporate headquarters and laboratories to 174-176 Middlesex Turnpike. That’s the Bedford Woods office park, once occupied by RSA, a cybersecurity company.

STR is seeking a tax increment financing (TIF) plan. A TIF is a mechanism that defers additional real estate taxes for up to 20 years, intended to incentivize job creation or retention. The company says it plans to invest about $78 million in renovation and construction costs during the next four years.

Details of the proposal will be discussed at the Select Board’s May 13 meeting.

STR, founded in 2010 with 10 people, now employs about 500 in Woburn and another 300 at a few smaller facilities in other parts of the country. The current location at West Cummings Park cannot expand and STR plans to add another 170 jobs, mostly software engineers, researchers, and other information technology specialists, said Mark Stevens, a company vice president.

The commonwealth’s Economic Development Incentive Program oversees a TIF. Before the state signs off, the arrangement requires Town Meeting approval, and that could come on June 11, which has already been scheduled to vote on a fire station financing article. The Select Board will decide on May 13 if the TIF will be included on the warrant.

“We think pursuing this further makes a lot of sense for the community,” said Town Manager Matt Hanson, who has been in discussions with STR officials. Hanson also pointed out that the firm would “keep our commercial pool diversified.” There has been a recent trend to convert office space to biomedical.

The buildings have an assessed valuation of more than $64 million. Matt Lanefski, Director of the Assessing Department, said he has provided a value history as a basis for negotiations of the TIF details.

STR offers many benefits to Bedford, said Lynn Tokarczyk of Business Development Strategies, Inc., a consultant for STR on its site search. Some are direct, like tax and permit revenue, and others benefit area retail and service sectors. 

“The company plans to become an active member of the business community.” Stevens noted, “We do a lot of talent outreach and support local educational programs and organizations.” He said that most of the employees work on the premises.

Tokarczyk said, “The town isn’t really losing any tax revenue. This is a positive tool to encourage companies to expand.”

Bedford has approved TIF arrangements in past years to attract new business.

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Athelney Woolnough
May 7, 2024 10:56 pm

Yes! We need a new company to take over the buildings vacated by RSA. I live on an adjacent road and walk my dog around the site. It is sad to see so much emptiness.

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