Politicians and 1,000 MathWorks employees attended the groundbreaking for MathWorks’ major expansion on Monday.
The company paid $30.8 million last December to acquire property it has been leasing on Natick’s Apple Hill Drive, a move that paves the way for an expansion that will add 600 jobs to the firm's Route 9 headquarters.
"The MathWorks is a key employer for both the MetroWest and the Commonwealth, so their ability to continue to grow and thrive in Natick is vitally importan," said Sen. Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, in a statement released after the event. "This project is truly the result of a fantastic partnership between the town, the state and The MathWorks, and I'm very excited to see it go forward after working so hard to bring it to fruition."
The event featured a MathWorks employee-made catapult that launched blocks of ice at the existing structure at 4 Apple Drive. A construction claw then ripped down one of the building's walls.
The Planning Board unanimously approved MathWorks’ expansion in 2008 after a year and a half of reviews, despite vociferous opposition from Walnut Hill neighbors who oppose the expansion because they are concerned more employees will bring more traffic and noise.
But Planning Board member Andrew Meyer, who was acting chair during the Planning Board review process, said he believes the expansion will benefit not only Natick, but MathWorks’ neighbors.
“I think the package of improvements that comes with [the expansion] is excellent,” said Meyer when the purchase was announced, “and MathWorks is going to pay for it.”
Among those improvements is a ring of trees, three to four rows deep, which will surround the property. Meyer said town officials will go out every year to make sure the aesthetic plan is adhered to by the company, a layer of oversight Meyer called “unprecedented” in Natick’s history.
MathWorks will also build a new, partially-underground parking garage — a design that was modified after neighbors expressed concerns about the garage’s original height — and install a turnaround on Route 9 to discourage drivers from using residential neighborhoods to maneuver, said Meyer.
MathWorks makes the high-tech computing software MATLAB and Simulink, which are used in several industries including technology, finance, research, and academia. The company employs more than 2,000 people among its worldwide offices in the United States, France, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, among other countries. The company already owns 2 Apple Hill Drive and 3 Apple Hill Drive.