Friday, September 13, 2013

Buzz builds on another Comcast tower

Comcast Corp., which runs its growing media empire from Philadelphia's tallest skyscraper, is considering building at least one new tower in Center City and is working with the prominent British architect Norman Foster, according to sources in the city's real estate community. Details about Comcast's expansion plans are being kept under tight wraps, but the company appears to be focusing on constructing the first of several towers on a long, skinny, 1.5-acre site at 18th and Arch Streets, a block west of the Comcast Center. That building could eventually be part of a vertical campus including towers at 19th Street and Arch, and 18th and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. All three sites are controlled by Liberty Property Trust, which completed Comcast's sleek, 975-foot headquarters just six years ago. Since then, Comcast has grown enormously. With its acquisition of NBCUniversal and its move into new digital products, Comcast has filled virtually all 1.2 million square feet in its glass obelisk and needs more office space for its expanding workforce.

There are 3,500 employees in the Comcast Center at 17th Street and JFK, with hundreds of employees scattered in buildings around Center City. The company just signed a short-term lease for 100,000 square feet in Three Logan Square as a stopgap. Neither Comcast nor Liberty would confirm they are working together on an expansion plan. In an interview, Liberty vice president John Gattuso said he was intensively studying conditions at 18th and Arch to determine what kind of project would be appropriate. That property was approved for a 1,500-foot skyscraper in 2008, but it seems unlikely that Liberty would aim for such altitude. "The tower will be as big as it needs to be," he said. "We need to understand the constraints of the site. We need to figure out the program and find a tenant."

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