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P&G plans $50m for update of Gillette plant

500 workers moving from Prudential site

Procter & Gamble Co. said it plans to file a proposal today detailing about $50 million in renovations at its South Boston facility to accommodate about 500 Gillette employees vacating the Prudential Tower corporate headquarters.

The Cincinnati consumer products conglomerate, which bought Gillette in 2005 for $54 billion, is planning to convert about 123,000 square feet in the South Boston plant into offices, conference rooms, and other uses. A 4,400-square-foot, two-story glass lobby is planned along One Gillette Park off Dorchester Avenue. The project also calls for an expansion and renovation of the employee cafeteria, fitness center, and retail space, according to a filing this month with the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

"P&G Gillette is committed to maintaining its manufacturing facility in South Boston. Repositioning those personnel associated with blade and razor manufacturing into available space in the [South Boston plant] facilitates P&G's corporate objective to maintain its Boston presence cost efficiently though the consolidation of employees," Brian Hodgett, Gillette's director of government and community relations wrote in an Aug. 3 letter of intent to the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

In January, P&G said it planned for Gillette to vacate its Prudential Tower headquarters and move employees into the shaving firm's South Boston factory. Gillette employees now located in the Back Bay will finish moving to South Boston when the Prudential lease expires in 2009. About 1,800 people currently work at the South Boston factory, according to Gillette spokesman Mike Norton.

Gillette's corporate headquarters at the Pru has taken a big hit since the takeover, with about half the 1,000 employees leaving through attrition, consolidation, or transfers to P&G operations elsewhere. P&G's acquisition of Gillette is expected to result in an estimated 5,000 job cuts from a combined workforce of 140,000. The takeover created one of the world's largest consumer products companies that joins Gillette's blades and razors with P&G's Tide detergent and Pampers diapers.

Soon after P&G and Gillette first disclosed the deal in 2005, the companies unveiled a $200 million capital investment program focused on improving the South Boston facility's research and development and manufacturing capabilities. Funds have already been spent on this initiative to update labs and manufacturing lines.

P&G hopes to start construction in January. P&G is asking the city to waive certain procedural steps of the draft impact report because the project is an internal rehabilitation of existing structures, except for the new lobby, and, the company says, there will be little if any negative impact.

Jenn Abelson can be reached at abelson@globe.com.

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