Employment at the former Army Materials Technology Laboratory in Watertown, MA, has grown significantly since 1995.
As of 2018, approximately 2,670 people worked on the site of the former arsenal – nearly five times as many civilians as when it closed.
In addition to the office park, 18 acres of the former arsenal have been used to restore and create wetlands by the Charles River, and a public park for the residents of Watertown. The Commander's Mansion was renovated and is now a premier events and function facility.
The 1988 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the 48-acre Army Materials Technology Laboratory be closed, and its functions transferred to existing facilities at other locations. Its closure in 1995 resulted in the loss of 540 civilian positions.
The Watertown Arsenal Reuse Committee formed in 1989 to plan for property redevelopment. The environmental conditions and cleanup were paramount concerns. Low-level radioactive waste was removed from the nuclear reactor and related research facilities, and the decontamination and decommissioning of the reactor-containment facility were completed in 1994. A reuse plan for the site was developed in January 1994, focusing on research and development, as well as commercial office space uses. In December 1996, the town created the Watertown Arsenal Development Corporation to implement the reuse plan.
The Army and the Town of Watertown executed an economic development conveyance in August 1998, conveying 30 acres to Watertown Arsenal Development Corporation. The local reuse authority sold the property to a developer team headed by O'Neill Properties Group of Philadelphia. The development, known as the Arsenal on the Charles, contains 760,000 square feet of research and development, and commercial office space in 11 buildings. The property was sold to Harvard University in May 2001. In 2013, Harvard completed a $168.5 million sale of the former arsenal to Athenahealth Inc., which had been headquartered in the office park since 2005.
Updated August 2020