Biotech firm Vertex moving to South Boston waterfront

Biotech firm Vertex moving to South Boston waterfront

Drug maker Vertex Pharmaceuticals will relocate to two new buildings on Fan Pier in Boston’s seaport district, the first big trophy in Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s effort to transform the city’s waterfront into an Innovation District filled with technology companies, academic institutions, and medical firms.

Vertex has signed a letter of intent to move its headquarters from Cambridge to developer Joseph F. Fallon’s Fan Pier complex in late 2013. The 23-acre complex currently has one building now, but is slated to host hundreds of new residences, a hotel, public parks and a marina.

The deal with Vertex, at 1.1 million square feet, is one of the largest lease transactions in the city’s history, officials said. The formal lease still must be signed, and the firm’s relocation to Fan Pier is contingent on federal approval of its first major drug, Telaprevir, a treatment for Hepatitis C.

Regulators are expected to act on the company’s application by June.

The deal is a coup for Boston in its effort to lure biotechnology companies from neighboring Cambridge, home to many other large drug companies that want to be close to competitors and to that city’s prestigious universities. It also offers a huge boost for Fan Pier, which will soon be able to resume construction after work was stalled in 2008 by a recession that dried up funding for large scale development projects nationwide.

The work slowdown caused Vertex, which was considering the move to Fan Pier back then, to renew its lease of its office and lab space in Cambridge last year.

But Vertex never turned its back on Fan Pier and continued to talk with representatives of the project during the last several months. The Vertex buildings will be the second and third major structures in the complex, adding to One Marina Park Drive, an 18-story office and retail building completed last year.

By Casey Ross, Globe Staff

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