Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Comcast, Liberty buy land for what could be third Comcast Tower

by Jacob Adelman, Inquirer Staff Writer

For the first time, Comcast Corp. and Liberty Property Trust acknowledged Tuesday they were partnering on a third real estate deal in Center City, which some have speculated could be the site of another Comcast office tower.

The companies have jointly bought land at 19th and Arch Streets, diagonally across the street from where they are building the 59-story Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, company spokesman John Demming said.

Comcast and Liberty have no specific plans for the parcels, as the companies concentrate on developing the new tower, Demming said.

The new innovation center will be the tallest building in the country outside New York and Chicago. Liberty also developed the 58-floor Comcast Center near the new tower's construction site.

Demming's comments came after Liberty CEO William Hankowsky discussed the deal earlier in the day during an earnings call with analysts.

It was the first confirmation by the companies that they were cooperating on land purchases at 19th and Arch.

"People have asked about this in the past," Hankowsky said on the call. "We are acquiring some real estate at 19th and Arch. This is a great relationship and has yielded, I think for both parties, good real estate and good investments."

Liberty spokeswoman Jeanne Ackerly Leonard had no immediate details about the size of the plot being acquired or the number of properties that have been bought.

Hankowsky said during the call that Liberty had yet to make any announcement about how it intends to develop the parcels.

"There's nothing around the corner," he said.

Bill Luff, executive managing director for Colliers International's Philadelphia office, said there had been speculation among real estate watchers that Liberty was acquiring the properties at Comcast's behest, since the cable company could soon need more space even after filling out its first two towers.

"I can see the logic that there could be a third building," he said.

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